Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: General Manager

For our Day in the Life series, we look at the daily work habits, schedules and routines from people in a variety of roles and careers around the world.

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Balder Tol, General Manager ANZ at WeWork

Balder Tol is the General Manager of Australia and New Zealand at WeWork, a coworking company providing flexible workspaces and community. 

Every day is different and I’m truly energised by working in a fast-paced, customer-focused organisation. Growing up I have always been passionate about customer success and genuine hospitality. 

Our teams across Australia are laser-focused on delivering the best possible member experience. Day to day, this involves chatting with members to understand their business needs, communicating with stakeholders around the world and liaising with our Community team to ensure the operations of our locations are always running smoothly.

Most days, my morning starts with a surf, following an early morning wake up call from my two little ones. In the office, I run through various business dashboards to understand any potential issues that need urgent attention. 

Following that I’ll organise my email inbox and note down the priorities that I’d like to complete for the day. I wear my heart on my sleeve and I care deeply about the success of our members and the wellbeing of our people so my day revolves around ensuring everyone is aligned, feels motivated and deeply supported.

Mark Nichols, General Manager at MetaLab

Mark Nichols is the General Manager at MetaLab, one of the top design agencies in the world that has worked with companies such as Slack, Coinbase, TED, Apple, Disney, and Google.

Like everyone else in the world right now, my workdays are suddenly very different, and I’m doing my best to adapt. 

I have two small kids at home, so my workdays used to include going into the office, and having my day punctuated by lots of surprise meetings and encounters in the hallway, with a few planned meetings. Now, my days are very much oriented around my schedule.

I had a day last week where I had a 1:1 with a design lead, a contract review with a new client, a post-mortem with an old client, a new business call, and a 1:1 with our CEO. 

It’s a very wide-ranging role, which requires wearing a lot of different hats. But luckily, all those meetings were with good people that I’m happy to talk to.

Jason Toshack, General Manager ANZ at Oracle NetSuite

Jason Toshack is the General Manager ANZ at cloud-based business management software suite Oracle NetSuite, where he’s been for more than thirteen years.

The first thing I do when I wake up is check my emails, action requests, book or accept meetings and scan for important news or announcements. With the priority items in my inbox addressed, it’s time to get some exercise before I start my work day, usually a run or gym session.

My day is more or less the same since our team has moved to WFH during the COVID crisis. I meet with the sales managers in the morning to see how conversions are progressing with customers and see where I can help – I still love getting hands-on wherever possible!

I have noticed that there has been an increase in meetings lately as a casual chat that may have taken place by the water cooler in the office may now become a more formal meeting. As such, I have started a fortnightly all hands meeting to make sure the broader ANZ business stays in contact and updated.

On a more personal note, I do love the extra time I have with my kids and not having to wake up quite as early!

Anna MacIntosh, General Manager at Polkadot Communications

Anna MacIntosh is the General Manager at Sydney-based full-service marketing, communications & PR agency Polkadot Communications.

As a competitive swimmer growing up, I have not been able to shake the early morning rise. I am generally up between 5.30am and 6am depending if I have Pilates or spin class. 

However, if you had asked me this during lock down, I would have said all of this was out the window! But our team is transitioning back into the office now, so my old routine is coming back to life a little but with a lot more flexibility thrown in.

After exercise, I get home around 7.15am to wrangle my 14-year-old teenager out of bed to get him ready for school. Before exercise, I do a quick scan of the news and Twitter to see what’s trending then properly read the news between coffee and leaving the house around 8.30am. 

If I have calls with some of my global clients, I will stay home to do those then head into the office later that morning.

My day is a diverse mix of client work, new business, and team discussions. I thrive on people and creativity and must admit, I am loving being back with my team and feeding off their energy from bouncing around ideas (social distancing style of course). 

I am a newshound and have been given the nickname of Chief of Staff in the agency. I am always sharing news, politics, pop culture, reality shows, you name it, I am reading and sharing it.

I always make time during the day to get out of the office. Having worked from home the past three months, it has validated just how important it is to have a break.

If my son has sport, I take him to training and most nights I am out of the office around 5. I try not to log back on unless necessary (like a pitch). Nights are for cooking and family time as well as the dreaded high school homework, followed by TV, Netflix or Stan. I am not a night owl, so lights are out early.

Nathan Knight, Director & General Manager – ANZ Data Center Group at Lenovo

Nathan Knight is a Director & General Manager for at Lenovo, where he leads the Data Center Group business across Australia and New Zealand. 

As I work with stakeholders across several time zones, I get an early start by checking my emails at 5:30am and responding to anything urgent before heading to the gym at 6am. 

My diary is typically packed from 8:00am to 6:00pm with calls and meetings to connect with my local teams, business partners and customers, with time in between spent on business planning and execution. 

Given I’m working with people from New Zealand, to Perth, and Singapore, if I’m commuting into the office I’ll use those hours at the very start and very end of the day for calls that are better suited for stakeholders in those time zones.

Anton Schiavello, General Manager of Nura Space

Anton Schiavello is the General Manager of Nura Space, a unified working platform (UWP) designed to understand, redefine and optimise workplaces of the future.

Since late 2019, I’ve been working remotely for around three to five days per week.

I’m up bright and early at 7am, to help my wife prepare breakfast for our daughter. I often don’t eat breakfast, however, I will make an almond latte at home.

Around 8am I’ll take a seat at my desk, read some global news, financial news, crypto news, and some local news.

From 9:30am Monday to Friday my team has stand-up meetings, which can run from 15 minutes to two hours. This really depends on how much collaboration is required.

Lunch is often at 12:30pm, and then an afternoon walk with my daughter around 3pm, with work and video calls in-between.

I touch base with all team members directly throughout the day. We use Microsoft Teams, which integrates nicely with various other productivity apps, and more importantly Azure, our cloud. 

My workday can finish quite late, with breaks in-between for dinner and a glass of wine. 

Brett Vincent, General Manager ANZ at Snow Software

Brett Vincent is the General Manager ANZ at Snow Software, a technology intelligence platform providing insights across software, SaaS, hardware and cloud.

I generally do not look at my role as day by day but rather by week. I divide my week up with daily themes — and ensure that each day has a focused list of things to accomplish.

For example, Monday and Tuesday is customer-focused but also sees me forecasting for the weeks and months ahead. Wednesday is usually spent travelling and on BP. By the time Thursday and Friday roll around, I like to focus on internal staff management and any other outstanding admin.

One thing I do have to bear in mind is how I structure my days around any calls I may need to have with the US and UK teams — taking into consideration their time zones.

Lastly, I try to prioritise all my activities by remembering that customers come first with partners closely behind.

Roger Dunn, General Manager of GroupM Commerce

Roger Dunn is the General Manager of GroupM Commerce, the world’s leading media investment company responsible for more than $63B in annual media investment. 

I’m often woken by my two girls running into the bedroom, they’re 5 & 7 and jump up to the bed for some morning cuddles and maybe some French cartoons on the TV – they go to Lycee Condorcet, the international French School of Sydney. 

As we’re still mainly working from home, I then use the commute time to clear out the inbox before 9am, so I can start the day afresh.

From here the day can be fairly varied, it might involve working on a client consultancy project, perhaps helping them create an e-commerce strategy or establish a presence on an online marketplace. 

I also run commerce bootcamps and present at client digital summits, so it might be involve finessing a presentation, or preparing for a panel or interview.

I might also be working with internal teams, developing a new product or solution with our product team, or discussing an upcoming campaign with our programmatic traders or the agency teams. I’m passionate about e-commerce and love to be a thought leader in this space, evangelising with clients, internal teams, or regularly via LinkedIn.

Sanjay Rohatgi, Senior Vice President & General Manager APJ at NetApp

Sanjay Rohatgi is the Senior Vice President & General Manager APJ at NetApp, a hybrid cloud data services and data management company headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

My role is best surmised as keeping the wheels turning by helping my teams to succeed. My typical day usually starts and ends with a Zoom call because my role involves countries from multiple continents and many different time zones. 

I could be providing an update to my manager in Europe, joining a call with the HQ team in California or working with regional teams within JAPAC. 

I like how my teams have been able to work remotely with ease during the pandemic, although I am aware of ‘Zoom fatigue,’ and encourage everyone to prioritise and not be afraid to say ‘no.’ 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.