By Megan S. Willman
In 1935, the Shapira family opened a small distillery called “Old Heavenhill Springs.” Known today as Heaven Hill Brands, the 82-year-old business has become the nation’s sixth largest distilled spirits supplier. Three generations of Shapira family members have worked to see Heaven Hill expand in the U.S. and into 40 countries worldwide. Kate Shapira Latts joined the family business in 2001, and today serves as the vice president for marketing. The diversity of Heaven Hill’s brand portfolio means that there is no such thing as a regular work day for Kate. On the day we spoke, she had discussed the meteoric growth of Evan Williams bourbon and spoken with a rapper in Georgia who would be promoting HPNOTIQ, a top-selling imported liqueur, at his concert that evening.
Not only is Kate a busy executive, but she and husband Allan, who is chief operating officer at Heaven Hill, are parents to Jake (16) and Lindsey (13). These days, work and personal lives intertwine for most, but was it more so within a family business? “I never saw it as a negative,” Kate says. “My dad ate, slept, and breathed his work and it never occurred to me to expect anything different. But he was as passionate, engaged, and involved as a father as he was in business.”
|Although Kate juggles multiple responsibilities, she is still able to devote time to her family and get the job done.|
Before coming to Heaven Hill, Kate worked in marketing at Procter & Gamble, which she describes as “a large and progressive company that really enabled women to lean in.” Kate brought those flexible work practices to Heaven Hill. Staying home with a sick child or leaving work to attend a school play are examples of that flexibility, but that’s not the only secret to Kate’s success. Kate highlighted the tips below as her strategies for success at work and at home.
1. Love your work.
We have work on our minds whether we’re in the office or not. “If you don’t have passion for what you do,” Kate says, “you’ve got a problem.”
2. Flexibility does not diminish responsibility.
“A flexible schedule doesn’t mean getting the work done slowly or not getting it done at all. We make adjustments like working later from home or coming in earlier the next day.”
3. Involve family in your work.
“We joke at staff meetings, that even the youngest of our children can point out ads or appreciate a good display. They grow up with an eye for marketing and are a real part of our work. My kids are teenagers now, and I believe they are more mature, independent, and worldly in part because of their exposure to the business.”
4. Don’t miss the big stuff.
“Whether it’s for your spouse, kids, or the job, prioritize the big things. You’ll miss some here and there, but they’ll know you were there when it mattered.”
5. Know what’s coming.
“Women are innately good at being able to see what’s coming down the pike. Use that ability to manage your schedule.”
6. Don’t make rules for yourself.
“Don’t set strict boundaries between work and family. Life is not black and white. Allow yourself to make the best choice in the moment.”
7. Be genuine.
“Some people say they are different at work than at home. Not me. I’m not playing a part. I am comfortable with who I am and who I’m not.”
8. You can’t do it all.
“My example of that? I don’t cook.”
9. Invest in childcare.
“We couldn’t have managed without good, trustworthy, and consistent care for our kids.”
10. It’s all about choices.
Kate believes “work/life balance” is a dated term. “We used to feel that everything had its own bucket. We allotted separate time to being a parent, a spouse, and an employee. These are different days. Technology enables us to be productive at any time and anywhere so we can focus on what we need to do. It’s a much easier time to be a working mom.”