By AnaMaria Bech
Click aqui para español- >Boss Mother:Teresa Lawrence
Name: Teresa Lawrence
Occupation: President, Delta Personnel | CEO, Delta Administrative Services
Biography: Teresa Lawrence is a Cuban-born entrepreneur who came to the United States in 1973 under President Nixon’s “Freedom Flight.” It was this pursuit of freedom, mingled with sheer uncertainty, that inspired Teresa to dedicate her life to helping people find jobs, obtain financial stability, and support their families. Under her ownership, family-owned business, Delta Personnel has gained national recognition in the staffing industry. Teresa currently serves on the following Board of Directors: WBEC South’s Board of Directors as Regional Director for New Orleans, Jefferson Economic Development Board Vice-Chair, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, New Orleans Chamber and Jefferson Parish Workforce Development Council.
Tell me about your work, schedule, some of the responsibilities.
Delta Personnel was founded by my father-in-law, Victor Lawrence, in 1968. My husband, David Lawrence, and I took over this business about 30 years ago, developing our offerings across several industry sectors including: administrative & clerical, healthcare, hospitality, professional, and skilled labor. This year, I also became the majority owner and CEO of Delta Administrative Services, LLC, a PEO firm founded by my husband in 2001. As valuable community partners, our work involves helping our clients meet HR demands and mitigate some of the risks that surround labor management. Furthermore, partnering with more minority businesses and advocating for diversity and acceptance will be a major part of our companies’ growth plans.
Mother of # of children, names, gender, ages: Two Daughters: Francesca (28) and Alexandra (26) + One Son: David (24)
What is the best thing about being a mom?
I became a mom in 1992. The first day I held Francesca in my arms was a true testament that God does not call the qualified…He qualifies those He calls. This role has so many twists and turns – like that of a business owner. There are no right or wrong decisions when there is no road map or instructions, however if you have a great support system like I did, then you will have the confidence to have two more! Apart from the laughs and friendship with my kids, the best thing about being a mom is watching them transform before your very eyes to make their marks on the world in their own unique ways.
How long did you take before getting back to work?
I was blessed to have my mother and grandmother, who eventually moved in with us (I married a good man!), to help me create a routine with Francesca so that I could quickly get back to work in just a few weeks. Alexandra had some health issues as a baby, which led me to make the decision to step back for two years, which turned into three after my son was born.
What was your biggest fear about becoming a mother and the ability to continue to thrive in your career?
My biggest fear about becoming a mother was the world that my children were entering, and I had faith and trust in my family to face any obstacle we would encounter both at home and work. Coming from a matriarch household, it was not hard to follow suit. My mother said: “Teresa sigue con el negocio que aquí estamos nosotros – nunca dejes de echar pa’ lante. Ahora más que nunca tienes que luchar por ti, por ellos, y por todos los empleados que dependen de ti.”
How did your work dynamic change, or did it?
Being an owner of a company at the same time as I became a mother gave me the freedom to be there for my children when they needed me. My work dynamic with my husband at my side changed between the years I took off to raise my babies, however his expertise in finances allowed the company to improve profitability, and I was able to focus on sales efforts to drive the business further.
What is the hardest thing about being a working boss mom?
Being a working mom, I missed many of my daughter’s basketball games (she went on to play in college), especially when it involved travel as my husband would go with her and I’d stay behind to manage while he was gone. It was hardest when the kids were young, and I would call to check in with my mom and would hear them crying for me in the background.
What can women do to find that mom/boss balance?
There is no magic formula for balance, so doing your best to be there when it counts. Having a support system with family and friends as well as a trusting relationship with my husband helped me to prioritize what was important to me, while dedicating time to learn as much as I can to help my business.
Are there biases against mothers in the workplace in general?
Motherhood has helped me to empathize more with working mothers, and I try to accommodate my staff as much as possible when life’s precious moments require their presence. I have never given them the opportunity to choose work over children – they know children come first, no matter what, and they are the reason they spend 8 plus hours a day with me. My staff is 95 percent women, and some are single moms, so in the same sense, they are empowered to make decisions when I need to be there for my family.
What would you tell a career woman who is conflicted about starting a family because of fear of jeopardizing her career?
To have enough emotional energy for your career and your family you need to make sure you have some personal time to do what you love without feeling guilty. This will help you change your life battery and keep you focused. When your mind is in the right place your decisions are clear and concise both for your personal life and work. At the end, life is about how many lives you’ve touched, so following your heart will reap in benefits.
What should the government do to create a better environment for working mothers?
I employ many non-salaried workers, and I feel for them when they cannot afford to return to work so quickly. While I'm not one to talk politics, I would advocate for some of the rights of these staffers, especially essential workers as outlined by the government these days.
What does your support system look like?
What would I do without my family? My blood relatives are mostly in New Orleans and Miami, and I am lucky to have such great in-laws spread across the south, as well. In addition, I have a wonderful work family with staff that sincerely care for one another.
How does motherhood make one a better professional?
Mothers are equipped to handle anything life throws at them.
How have you handled the COVI19 pandemic regarding work and family?
As an HR partner, we have shown commitment to our clients and employees, working longer hours, and responding to questions while advising them on the government policies that affect their ability to put food on the table for their families.
How has this situation affected you personally, and as a mother?
Personally, I’m being reminded of Katrina, and thankful that we had measures in place to get through another hurricane, although this pandemic of course affects more than just where we operate. I’ve learned to take things one day at a time and pray for a new tomorrow.
What are your feelings towards New Orleans’ current situation, specifically to festivals, and live performances?
New Orleans is better equipped to handle a rebirth than most cities in the US. We are the epidemic of resilience!