Simmons Leadership Blog

Why work life balance is important from beer industry innovator Rhonda Kallman

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A widely-recognized innovator in the beer industry, Rhonda Kallman opened the door for women in the beer business when she helped launch The Boston Beer Company at the age of 24.

We asked Kallman about the importance of work/life balance and how her fearless ambition allowed her to jump far ahead in her career, or what she prefers to call "an adventure."
What women in business, current or former, do you most admire? What has she taught you?

I'd have to say Madonna is right up there! She has managed to break through in an extremely difficult male-dominated business and make millions doing it on her terms. Madonna's abilities to reinvent herself are incredible. She's a devoted mother, a generous philanthropist and continues to break through and be relevant.

How did you get started in your career?

I attribute the start of my success to being in the right place at the right time. I was a secretary at a world-class consulting firm and moonlighting as a bartender and waitress. I met Jim Koch [the cofounder and chairman of the Boston Beer Company] in 1980 and three years later, he asked me to help him start a beer company. He knew a lot about business and beer. I knew a lot about how and where people enjoy their beer. I had enough fearless ambition to help execute his vision.

Why do you think women still have not attained more leadership positions in all industries/careers?

Frankly, I think it is by choice. Sometimes it is difficult to juggle family and career. I believe the success of a woman/mother/wife/daughter largely depends on the support of the people around her and her ability to manage it all.

What do you like most about your job?

It's not a job, it's an adventure... really!

Who's on your iPod playlist

All kinds of artists. My favorites and my kids' too: Sinatra; Adele; Andy Grammer; Carrie Underwood; Black Eyed Peas; The Beatles; Alicia Keyes; Colbie Callait; The Rolling Stones; Taylor Swift and of course, Madonna.

Rhonda Kallman is a signature speaker at the 2012 Simmons Leadership Conference, the premier professional event for women, on April 5 at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston. You can follow the conference live on Twitter @SimmonsConf and #SLC12.

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