Parental Guidance

A conversation with Baxter's Working Mom and Working Dad of the Year

Baxter was recently named to Working Mother magazine’s prestigious lists of 100 Best Companies and Best Companies for Dads. Companies named to these lists have an opportunity to select two employees — one Working Mother and one Working Father of the Year as part of this recognition. For 2020, Baxter is honoring Hiranda Donoghue, a mother of two, and Mike Nassif, a father of three. Here is an interview with Hiranda and Mike.

Q: Tell us about your current role at Baxter.

Hiranda: I am deputy general counsel and vice president supporting several of Baxter's global businesses and Global Research & Development.

Mike: I’m vice president of our Commercial Excellence team within the Americas region. We support the commercial staff and their initiatives to help maximize their effectiveness in the field.

Q: Both of you are involved in a business resource group (BRG) in addition to your day-to-day work. Why do you feel it’s important to serve?

Hiranda: I serve as co-president of our Baxter Black Alliance (BBA) BRG and on the steering committee for our global initiative to advance racial justice for the Black community. While neither role is directly related to my job at Baxter, as a Black woman, both are deeply personal to me. As a mother, I feel it’s my duty to do whatever I can to make sure my daughters – and all future generations – inherit a just and equitable world. We can do better.

Mike: I’m co-president of BaxVets, our BRG that supports veterans, service members, military families and civilian partners. Through its commitment to BaxVets, Baxter provides a very public platform to increase awareness around veterans' issues while breaking down misperceptions that might limit the success of our veteran colleagues. As a veteran myself, I was strongly drawn to being part of that work.

Q: How has COVID-19 altered your parenting?

Hiranda: Baxter has been very flexible about allowing us to work remotely during the pandemic. I believe in structure, but COVID-19 has forced me to become more flexible in my parenting as well. I’ve learned that easing up on the rules can be fun…  going to bed late to squeeze in a last-minute movie on a Tuesday night can be a great thing.

Mike: I've learned that it is much easier to get distracted with the kids, especially before school resumed in the fall. You're at home, and kids — especially younger ones — don't necessarily understand the "remote work" concept. To them you’re in the house and therefore you're fair game. During COVID-19, I've learned that it's important to explain more about my job and ask my kids for "quiet time" to do my work. And of course, I build in "micro engagements" during the day to spend more time with them.

Q: How has Baxter supported your ability to be a successful working parent?

Hiranda: Many of my friends were forced to return to work, without childcare, in environments with high risk of exposure to COVID-19. Baxter prioritizes the health and safety of its employees and their families every day, with strict safety protocols in place if you are going to a Baxter location, be it a manufacturing plant or an office.

Mike: I've felt very supported working from home; my leadership, peers and team have all been respectful of the situation. Most importantly, they don't hold it against me when a child interrupts my video presentation to ask where the Cheerios are! Also, Baxter has kept the topic of remote work and the challenges it poses front and center in its communications. We are talking about it every day, and we’re always trying new things, especially for our colleagues who need more support.

Q: What’s your advice to other working parents?

Hiranda: My goal is to raise two happy, resilient, empathic citizens of the world. To do that, I have to set a good example. My advice is that, as a parent your actions are more important than your words, because your children are always paying attention.

Mike: In my opinion, there is no such thing as work/life balance — there's just life. Each of us must decide how we want to spend our waking hours, and most importantly, the quality we want to get out of those hours. When I'm working, I try to be 100% present with my work, and when I'm spending time with the family, I try to be 100% present with them as well. The greatest gift you can give your family is your time; it's a perishable resource.  

Photo caption: On left, Hiranda Donoghue with her husband and daughters. On right, Mike Nassif with his daughter and sons.