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Is it possible to be the mother of triplets AND a manager? I at least plan to give it my best shot.
At work I am known for my resistance to stress and my talent for multi-tasking and improvisation. As Head of Central Controlling in the Powertrain Division’s Fuel & Exhaust Management Business Unit, after my return to work in October 2016, I am responsible for a team of four employees in Dortmund (Germany) and two employees in Timisoara (Romania). Putting in overtime and showing flexibility in my working hours were no problem for me in the past before having kids. I love my job, so I’m very dedicated.

My getting-down-to-business attitude is now proving useful in other parts of my life as well. Since December 2, 2015, my husband Marcus (who also works for Continental in Dortmund) and me have been the parents of triplets. The odds of giving birth to triplets are less than 0.1 percent. Charlotte, Elisabeth, and Marlene were delivered in my 27th week of pregnancy, and have been living happily at home since March.

But getting them there wasn’t easy. They were only 30 cm long at birth and weighed between 630 and 700 grams. They were in the neonatal ICU for the first two months of their lives, and then moved to the ward for premature babies for an additional month. They were on respirators and feeding tubes. It was a time of terrible uncertainty. We were in a constant state of anxiety.
Now that the triplets are growing and thriving, my thoughts are turning to my job. Starting in August we gained the additional support of a home daycare provider, and I came back to work in October – initially on a 30-hour week. I know that it is ambitious to combine being a mother and a manager. But I love a challenge, and I am sure I’ll be able to manage both my family and my career. It won’t be easy. I really wanted to go back to my old job, though, and adapt it to my new reality as a mother.

The most important thing was to take the necessary time to work out a plan with my boss on how to structure my daily work. I am not able to work as much as I used to, or be as flexible. So we had to define on who will take on certain aspects of certain tasks, who will jump in when I’m not there, and who will be able to handle commitments late in the day.

It is my aim to be productive, just like before. But I also know that being a successful manager as well as a good mother to three young children is not something I can manage singlehandedly. I am counting on the support of Continental. I work for a modern, progressive company. So I hope that working from home and flexible hours are going to be possible. Who knows, maybe someday there will be an on-site daycare center in Dortmund like we have at some other locations :-). Our three children aren’t the only ones who would benefit. So many employees here have young children – it really would be wonderful.

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Kathrin Spusta

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