Women in focus: How COVID-19 affected LSG Group employees worldwide

There is no doubt that the past year presented many around the world with unique challenges, but the pandemic has hit women particularly hard. Last week, PwC published its annual “Women in Work Index”, in which they reported that the “disproportionate burden of unpaid childcare falls on women”. So large is the burden that women are leaving the workforce in much higher numbers than men.

As the world continues to reel in and deal with the impacts of COVID-19, we wanted to take the time on International Women’s Day to recognize some of the many women who keep the LSG Group running.

Whether they have been with the company for years or they are just starting their career; whether based in Germany, Thailand, Brazil, the USA or South Africa; whether they are mothers or not, these are their individual struggles and successes over the past year. (Gallery below)

“During the strict lockdown phases, I sometimes had just one wish: some space and silence,” said Anne Herbert, echoing thoughts that many have had over the year. While it’s been a challenge to balance her heavy workload, her two children’s homeschooling and the chores that pile up, Germany-based Herbert has found comfort and strength in the newfound flexibility of working from home. “I can now organize my work and life in a more flexible way, and I enjoy having my family around me. I get so many little kisses and tons of drawings from my children,” she said. Not forgetting her close-knit team, who she has learnt to appreciate even more. – Anne Herbert, Head of Human Resources Emerging Markets at LSG Group
Carolina Fonseca’s biggest role model is her mother, so it’s only fitting that on International Women’s Day, she celebrates her. “My mom was the one who taught me the power of dedication, hard work and the magic of a hug,” said Fonseca. “She is my spark of light and a constant source of inspiration, reminding me of all the power within me too.” – Carolina Fonseca, Manager Global Environmental & Global Infrastructure at LSG Group
For Edmara de Araujo Ferreira, who works in the cold kitchen department, the pandemic stoked her interest in Psychology. She said: “I’m now taking a course, and pursuing this field feels very fulfilling.” – Edmara de Araujo Ferreira, Assistant Cold Kitchen at LSG Sky Chefs Natal
Elizabeth Baas, who joined the company in 2007, has extensive experience in Lean and Operations. In 2011, the Los Angeles local worked as the General Manager for Las Vegas, before taking on the role of Head of Last Mile Logistics. Now, the mother of three is back to her home city, serving as the current Market GM for Southern California. – Elizabeth Baas, Head of LSG Sky Chefs LAX Market
Working from home has meant that Elizabeth Repolho da Silva’s colleagues have become well acquainted with some of her family members. “My son loves chatting on my headphones, and my dog often decides to bark in the middle of a call,” she explained. It has also meant that Elizabeth’s relationship with coffee has deepened over the year, she added with a smile. The big downside, however, has been “load shedding”, or rotational power outages to meet the country’s electricity demand – a “uniquely South African challenge”, described Repolho Da Silva. – Elizabeth Repolho Da Silva, Head of LSG Sky Chefs South Africa
After successfully juggling her full-time job with the LSG Group and a full-time graduate course, Erin Cisneros graduated in December 2020 from the University of North Texas with a Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management and Disaster Science in December last year. “I didn’t get to attend a graduation ceremony due to COVID, but it didn’t stop me from feeling accomplished and proud of myself. All that effort was worth it!” said the Security Analyst. – Erin Cisneros, Security Analyst in North America at LSG Group
Through the pandemic, the Natal-based employee found strength in her mantra: “Empty what weighs you down, cherish what cheers you up, speak what affects you, allow yourself to feel strongly about what moves you, silence what wears you down and be grateful for the good that happens to you.” – Fabiane Mary Ramos de Lemos Soares, Supervisor Procurement at LSG Sky Chefs Natal
While there are many challenges Leanne Hutton has faced over the year, her biggest issue is the lack of office space, as she now works from her dining table. “Every day, I hope that no one trips over them and pulls my laptop off the table,” she said. However, it has also meant spending more time with her family. “I’ve enjoyed the extra time to try out new recipes like a traditional milk tart, fudge and birthday cakes,” added the Johannesburg-based Sales Director. “We have a lovely country and we were so privileged to be able to enjoy an African Safari during lockdown.” – Sales Director for LSG Sky Chefs South Africa, Tanzania and Lagos
One year in, and Liisa Rugele has, in her words, ticked many boxes on the “quintessential lockdown experience”. “I’ve baked many, many loaves of bread, completed numerous puzzles and even adopted a COVID-puppy from the shelter,” she explained. By now, she’s adjusted to virtual meetings, although she still finds limitations in bringing on new team members via video conference. “That, and coming to the realization that no one really cares if my hair is messy,” she added. – Liisa Rugele, Retail Director, Onboard Retail Europe at Retail inMotion
The pandemic has taught Manuela Miranda to value her family time more. “Creating memories with the people most precious to me has been priceless,” she added. In the photo: her two daughters. – Manuela Miranda, Unit Supervisor in Latin America at LSG Sky Chefs
If there is one thing Marieluise Bruch has enjoyed the past year, it is how her time spent waiting in traffic jams has significantly reduced. “I’ve learnt to enjoy the small moments in life every day,” said the mother of two. As other parents might relate, she has also had to find novel ways to entertain her two children – especially when enjoying her cup of tea. Perhaps it’s no coincidence, then, that Bruch has picked up a new skill: hula hooping. – Marieluise Bruch, Controlling and Financial Analysis at Retail inMotion
Lockdown for Nisa Philips has meant more flexibility in organizing her time. “The control I now have over my work schedule is invaluable,” explained Philips. “I have a much better work-life balance. I can be there for my daughter in the mornings or schedule meetings around a contractor fixing something in my home.” However, it has also brought newfound challenges like needing to upgrade her Internet plan and wearing multiple hats. “I have to be an employee, a mother, a teacher and a chef all at once,” she added. That, of course, has meant that her culinary skills have improved quite a bit. Laughing, she said: “My knowledge in Indian cuisine has expanded quite a bit. I might be ready to start my own Indian Food Truck.” – Nisa Philips, Manager Human Resources Emerging Markets at LSG Group
Between long working hours and the many distractions the home environment brings, lockdown has not been the easiest for Palabadi Tlhoaele. On the positive side, “working from home has helped me save on petrol and lunch money,” she explained, the latter of which is a direct result of having more time for the Assistant Accountant to experiment with new recipes in the kitchen. – Palabadi Tlhoaele, Assistant Accountant at LSG Sky Chefs South Africa
“It might seem paradoxical, but this ‘antisocial’ period has taught me a lot about my needs as a social being,” said Phyllis Fercho. “It’s been really tough not being able to see my friends over the past year.” Not one to pass on a learning opportunity, Fercho instead learnt to put in more of a conscious effort to maintaining relationships. Some of her highlights of 2020 include taking on a new role as Sustainability Manager, growing closer to the Sustainability Acceleration team and her cat. “She’s been my loyal companion, and she’s probably spent as much time in front of the screen as I have,” added Fercho. – Phyllis Fercho, Sustainability Manager at LSG Group
The unprecedented year provided the Brazil-based Human Resources Assistant time for introspection. “I did a lot of soul searching, and realized I needed to take better care of my body, mind, spirit and faith,” said Raíssa Pochalsky. “It’s given my life more balance and bettered me.” – Raíssa Pochalsky, Human Resources Assistant in Latin America at LSG Group
Where Richa Dagar’s commute to work used to take a total of three hours, it now takes her no time at all to set up. That convenience, however, came at a cost. “Since my workstation was available 24/7, separating work from my personal life became a challenge,” she explained. To solve that, the Dublin-based analyst now uses the extra time for evening walks after work with her husband and even learnt to bake. – Richa Dagar, Customer Success Analyst at Retail inMotion
“At the beginning, adjusting to a new workspace was challenging, especially when that workspace involves my dog, a television and snacks,” said Sashni Moodley. “It’s unsurprising that many of us struggled with being productive. We were also distracted by ongoing developments, anxiety about the situation and concern for our loved ones.” Now, however, she finds it easier to resist the temptation of working in bed. She smiled, sagely offering her advice: “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” Her biggest takeaway, however, lies in the little bit of good working from home has done for the planet. “Greta Thunberg will be proud,” she said. “Fewer cars are driving to work, and we no longer need to print as much as before.” – Sashni Moodley, Finanacial Accountant at LSG Sky Chefs South Africa
Though Sirirat Janthanit’s working environment has changed significantly due to the pandemic, she has found solutions over the past year. “I found that physically setting up the work area really helps me stay productive,” she said, citing familiar distractions like pets, a comfortable couch and Netflix. Perhaps because of that, she discovered a new favorite activity in home decoration. – Sirirat (Kob) Janthanit, Airline Catering Information Manager at LSG Sky Chefs Bangkok
The one difficulty of working from home for people-person Stephanie Brady? “Missing people,” said the Head of HR for RiM. “But, working from home has meant that I feel like I have achieved some balance in my life! I can finally be a good mother and a good employee on the same day of the week.” Next on the agenda: training her new 7-month-old puppy, Buddy. – Stephanie Brady, Head of HR for Retail inMotion

More findings from the “Women in Work Index”:

According to research by UN Women, women on average spent six more hours per week on unpaid childcare than men every week.

According to the OECS Short Term Labor Market Statistics, that number has increased significantly during COVID-19. Women now spend 7.7 more hours per week on unpaid childcare than men. This increase equates to 31.5 hours per week in total – almost as much an extra full-time job.

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