Ajay Unni is the founder & CEO of StickmanCyber, a specialist cyber-security firm providing a full range of services to protect customers from cyber attacks and data breaches.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career at the age of 16 as a freelance software developer. Having failed Year 12 my parents put me through a diploma course in software development where I learned a skill that made the rest of my career.
I worked as a freelancer before starting a small software development firm that grew to about 100 staff over time before selling that business to one of my clients.
About 15 years ago I started StickmanCyber, a specialist cyber-security firm providing a full range of services to protect our customers from cyber attacks and data breaches.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
The main three pillars I try to focus on day-to-day are business development, strategy and innovation. Thankfully I find all these areas inspiring and they offer the best way for me to contribute to the business.
Although I am the CEO I still enjoy engaging directly with my clients and staff. Most of my day is meeting with clients and introducing StickmanCyber and showing them how we can help solve their challenges.
I also spend a lot of time on strategy, planning and execution of our business plan to ensure we are on track. Lastly, part of my day goes to looking at new possibilities, new ways of doing things and new opportunities.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
StickmanCyber has been 95% remote and 5% face-to-face on a needs basis. Over the past two years we have seen an increase in productivity, peace of mind, business growth, better work-life balance and overall fulfillment and satisfaction. Being in tech, if we don’t embrace technology to be productive whenever and wherever we are, who else will?
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I believe that life is all encompassing, work, home, personal time, family and friends. Since COVID I have been able to balance all these quite well and spend more time with my family than I ever did and also allow more time for myself and everything I need to do.
Some days are crazy with back-to-back meetings, however overall balance has been great. All I need is a rough plan for the day then I just wake-up, shower, pray, meditate, walk the dog, have breakfast, drop the kids at school, start work, break for tea.
Then lunch, continue with work, before finishing for the day and then I meditate, pray with my family, eat dinner, maybe walk the dog again, reflect and write in my gratitude journal, call a friend or family member before wrapping up and going to sleep.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have tried a few routines since COVID and found what I have shared above works really well for me. There are times when my schedule is interrupted but I just adapt and work around it. My non-negotiable is my twice-daily meditation – I never miss it as it is the one thing that resets and re-charges me every single day.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I don’t get a lot of time for books and most of the reading I do is around cyber attacks and cyber crime. I am more of an observer. I like to watch and learn from people as opposed to reading.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My Apple Watch is on me for most of the day although I do remove it before I go to sleep.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Many years ago I discovered that the founder of the Bose corporation was Amra Bose, an Indian American, whose company made, and continues to make, a huge impact on the audio industry.
After he passed away I saw a video about him that showed his journey to creating Bose but also highlighted how he enjoyed a simple life. What I especially admire about Amra was his generosity; he donated most of his company shares to his former university MIT to help fund future education pursuits.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Focus on your life holistically and understand that work forms a big part of it. Create a balanced life with time for work, family, friends and yourself too. When you spend time working on yourself, doing things that make you happy, you will pass on that happiness to others. It all starts and ends with you and you must be prepared to cherish and embrace the life that you’ve designed and created for yourself.
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