My Daughter Lisa Hillenbrand is Director of Global Marketing for Proctor and Gamble and is Author of this inspiring article
Written Jul 29, 2012 11:00am

No doubt most of you have seen the Thanks Mom campaign that is part of this summer’s London Olympics. June 29th was my 25th P&G anniversary so I decided to celebrate by thanking P&G not just for my career but also for the positive impact P&G has had on my children.
I joined P&G right after business school and planned to stay no more than a few years to get my marketing skills honed and get back to the East Coast. But each year I worked on new challenges, learned more, made lifelong friendships, and came to love the company, its people and its brands.
Every working mom struggles with working and raising children. From everything I’d read, I assumed that working would negatively impact parenting. Now, as my kids leave home, I’ve found the opposite is true. My P&G job has shaped their character, their experiences and their life choices in so many positive ways.
Without P&G, I might literally have not had Adam, my oldest. I went into pre-term labor at 20 weeks and spent the next 20 weeks on bed rest to lessen the contractions. Among my worries was how we were going to pay the bills. I remember the call from Janet, my HR contact, who said that disability would pay most of my salary while I was gone and that P&G would supplement that to ensure I got my full salary. “You just focus on having a healthy baby,” she said, “I’ll take care of all the forms.”
And, more recently, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, P&G helped me and my family every step of the way through a 7 month leave of absence and my reentry into full time work.
Adam is now 20 and Helen is 18. Throughout the years, they’ve learned a lot about business through me. They critique advertising campaigns and grieved like members of the family when we sold Pringles. Helen learned about the Who, What and How of brand building through a “bring your daughter to work” day I did with colleagues in Geneva (in French!).
I took Helen on her first business trip when she was 3 months old. I’d just gotten back to work and had an agency meeting in New York. I was still breast feeding so she came along, cared for during the day by a hotel nanny. Business lunch break that day was for her!
When Adam was 15, I took him on a business trip to China. I was speaking in front of 500 Chinese colleagues about new marketing models. Adam was part of the talk (see attached photo). He talked about how he and his generation were using the internet to connect. In fact, he said he knew people in Guangzhou already. A group of Chinese kids who lip synced the Back Street Boys songs from their dorm in GZ had just become a global sensation on You Tube. His talk was a huge hit. The first question I got in China a month ago was “So how’s your handsome son?” Justin Bieber watch out!
The biggest benefits to them have come from our 2 international postings – 4 years in Geneva and a year in Singapore. When we first told them we were moving Adam (age 11) said “Mom you’re ruining my life! You’re just doing this for your career.” I talked to them both about how much their Dad and I wanted them to experience the world but they were inconsolable. And I felt guilty as they struggled with their new lives.
Six months later both were gaining fluency in French and happily immersed in real football (soccer) and skiing. Four years later we moved again and then a year later were back in Cincinnati. They went through 3 schools in 3 years, my divorce, 3 sets of friends and all those painful goodbyes every time we left. And I struggled as a single parent.
All the advice books said this was too much change and yes it was tough. But the kids have a resiliency, empathy, a world view and experience with transitions that most of their friends don’t.
Today they are reaping the benefits of all that experience. Adam spent the summer in Senegal, speaking French, living with an African family well off enough for a toilet and hose type shower. The mother was a warm hearted widow who rented rooms to make ends meet. One day at work, I got a call from a 24 year old who introduced himself as “le frère d’Adam.” (Adam’s brother). My new son had a sonorous voice and beautiful French accent. We had a lovely conversation (en francais). “Que le monde est petit,” said I. It is a small world !
Adam will spend the fall semester as a student at St. Cyr, France’s West Point. Founded by Napoleon and Charles DeGaulle’s alma mater, it is one of France’s “grandes écoles.”
Helen is in Seoul, South Korea for 7 weeks on a State Department sponsored language trip. She is living with a Korean family with 3 kids. Helen sleeps on a mat on the floor, eats lots of Korean food and studies daily at Sogong University.
On June 29th, both kids were home. Adam made a steak dinner and we celebrated and thanked P&G for the many blessings in our lives that have come through my job.
Thanks P&G!
Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand


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