Lisa Rumain has a few tips for going out to lunch with the President of the United States: Wear comfortable shoes (she didn’t); order what he’s having (she did); savor every minute (she absolutely did).
Earlier this week Lisa, a Total Rewards Manager for Johnson & Johnson based at World Headquarters in New Brunswick, NJ, got the surprise of her life when she found out she would be having lunch with President Obama in Washington, D.C.
“I had a fantastic time,” Lisa says. “It really was a once in a lifetime experience.”
The mom of three was in the nation’s capital representing Johnson & Johnson at the White House Summit on Working Families. Organizers of the Summit selected Lisa after learning about how instrumental Johnson & Johnson is in helping her balance work and family. After the premature birth of her twin girls seven years ago, and with a young son already at home, Lisa thought her career might be over. On returning from maternity leave however, the company worked with Lisa, offering a flexible, part-time schedule that she maintains today.
She was invited to the event not only to tell her story about being a working mom, but also to introduce the President as the keynote speaker of the Summit. Then, shortly before lunchtime, Lisa was told she and a few other participants would be having lunch with a few of President Obama’s senior advisors. It soon became clear that lunch would include the President himself.
“Knowing I was going to be introducing the President was exciting enough,” Lisa says. “I never imagined in a million years we would have lunch together. I was overwhelmed with emotion.”
Once President Obama arrived, he told the group they were going to go for a walk, leading them from the conference site to a nearby restaurant a couple of blocks away. Lisa walked as quickly as she could, but was wearing a pair of shoes that were slowing her down.
“I was having a hard time with my heels on,” Lisa says. “At one point President Obama motioned for me to catch up.”
At lunch with the President, Lisa said all she kept thinking about was what she could order that wouldn’t be messy. She followed President Obama’s lead and ordered a burrito bowl so she could use a fork and knife and avoid spills. Once the group sat down, Lisa said she asked what he and the First Lady do to limit their daughters’ use of technology. “
"He told me they limit it to weekends,” she says. “He was so down to earth.”
After returning to the event, Lisa prepared for her moment on stage. After she introduced the President to the filled ballroom, he gave her a hug and thanked her.
“I felt really proud being there and representing J&J,” says Lisa, whose husband Brian is a Senior Transportation Analyst for Johnson & Johnson, Consumer. “I’m so grateful to work for a company that values balance between work and home and provides medical benefits for my family. Because J&J is so flexible with me, I want to work hard for them.”