Mentorship Series #3: The Benefits Of Extended Paternity Leave

By Publications Checkout
Mentorship Series #3: The Benefits Of Extended Paternity Leave

In the third of a series of articles by the LEAD Network Ireland Chapter, in partnership with Checkout, Aaron Crinion, managing director, Kraft Heinz Ireland, talks about his experience of taking extended paternity leave, explaining how the benefits were not only reflected at home but also in the workplace.

I had the opportunity to take 12 weeks, rather than two weeks, after the birth of my daughter Isabelle last year, which was amazing.

Kraft Heinz were incredibly supportive and having seen senior leaders in the business take and promote parental leave, I felt confident in my decision.

That additional time really allowed us to bond as a family and gave my wife extra time to recover.

I wouldn’t have traded that first 12 weeks with them for anything.


When my son Hugo was born in 2020, I was only able to take two weeks, so the extended time together meant that my wife and I could get to know our daughter, support our son, and work out a routine to find our new normal.

It worked for me to take the 12 weeks consecutively.

However, I could have split it up, taking time off when my daughter was born and then again when my wife returned to work.

This means that when your partner returns to work, they can focus on just that, and don’t need to worry about their child being cared for by family or introducing them to nursery.

This is all part of Kraft Heinz paternity enhancements over the last few years.


As a leader, it has also set an example to my team.

While I never felt it, I am conscious that there are barriers to fathers taking time off, such as social stigma and professional penalties.

Opportunities for colleagues

My time away from work also presented others with opportunities.

Elaine McCague, head of marketing and commercial, stepped up to cover my role while I was out of the business.

I advised her and hopefully equipped her with enough support to take the business forward in her own right, as opposed to my agenda.


This not only allowed Elaine to develop her skills in a role that may not have been possible otherwise, but it allowed me to come back to fresh approaches and new perspectives.

It has given me a career refresh, and it is something that I would encourage all senior leaders to do.

Moving things forward

Paternity leave made me a better father, but also a better leader.

Personal responsibility is critical in allyship – a business can have great benefits and values that support, but without individuals taking responsibility impact will be limited.

When you see your male co-workers, or any co-worker for that matter, take family leave for a new child, celebrate them - ask them about their children, and let them know that you value them for being committed employees but also as committed parents.


When working with my team, I make sure not to make assumptions about their career aspirations.

I want to foster a culture where all members of my team, not just parents, can raise concerns or suggest flexible working patterns, so I can partner with them to design a career that enables them to thrive.

The culture we create and want for our teams is about having clear values and backing them up with consistent behaviours on a regular basis.

We can often fall into the trap of just supporting change, but if you really want it or believe in it, you need to be an advocate.

I understand how fortunate I am to work for a business like Kraft Heinz which supports this thinking and approach, but if you don’t or would like to, I would encourage everyone to get involved with the LEAD Network to learn more.


Learn More

Aaron and Elaine will be hosting an in-person event on Thursday, 13 June, discussing the topic of ‘Allyship; how to foster and embed it in your business’ alongside Breda McCague as part of the LEAD Network Ireland Chapter.

To find out more, please visit 


Read More: Mentorship Series #2: Allyship In Action

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