Balancing the Grind with Alex Mcdonald, General Manager at GO Healthy Australia

Alex McDonald is the General Manager of GO Healthy Australia, a premium natural supplement range founded and manufactured in New Zealand.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I’m currently the Managing Director of GO Healthy Australia. 

I studied sports science and marketing initially and found myself in the Sports Apparel industry at Adidas through an internship. This eventually led to launching AND1 Basketball into New Zealand which was an incredible experience.

I loved the sports industry and I loved the perks,but I quickly realised sports was a passion I had outside of work and I made the move into the Healthcare industry with a genuine desire to help people live healthier lives.

I had many roles in the healthcare industry with GSK and Novartis in Sales, Marketing and General Management until 6 years ago, when an opportunity came along to start the GO Healthy vitamin business in Australia and China.

Though I was living in Australia at the time, being New Zealand born and raised, to launch such an iconic New Zealand brand to the rest of the world was a dream come true. It has been a pretty wild ride, but building an incredible team in Australia and being the fastest growing brand in the vitamin space over the last 3 years has been a career highlight.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Every day and every week is quite different for me. I travel a lot between Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney which can be disruptive to routine but provides variety which I really thrive off.

Each day, regardless of where I am, typically starts with some exercise at 530am – either a workout at the gym or an 8km run. Then, before I get into my day, I like to do a quick scan of my emails from overnight to prioritise anything urgent or filter down my inbox. I don’t like having any more than a screen worth of unread or unactioned emails at anytime, so this helps me stay on top of things.

After that, I get on with the rest of my day which will consist of one on ones with my staff, external engagements and meetings with retail or supply partners and a lot of strategy planning sessions for the business. I usually like a clean break from work around 6pm which is when I love to hit the kitchen to make dinner and turn my mind to home and life outside of work.

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Good work-life balance to me is being healthy in all facets of your life –from having a healthy mind and body through to a healthy attitude and approach to work. I find if all these things are in sync, I am the most focussed and perform at my best.

I work across multiple time zones and geographies which makes time management and sticking to a typical workday tough, but as a general rule, the evenings after dinner and the weekends are dedicated to home and all the important and amazing people I have outside of work. 

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Since COVID lockdowns in Auckland and Melbourne, I’ve been working from home, which means I’m not spending at least 10 hours a week in traffic. From the outset, I was determined not to waste this time and decided to put that time into my health and fitness.

I have never been a great morning exercise person but over COVID lock downs I continued to religiously exercise and start my day at 530am. I’ve managed to maintain this ever since and it has become one of my favourite parts of the day. 

I also love to cook at the end of the workday, it gives my mind a mental change of pace from work, so the extra hour not being spent in traffic at the end of the day has been invested into cooking tasty, healthy food and just have that time to mentally unwind from the stresses of the day.

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

When I am relaxing, I love reading fiction as I see it as great escapism from the daily grind. I have just finished The Club by Ellery Lloyd, which is a smart and sinister murder mystery set in the secretive world of exclusive celebrity clubs.

When I am driving or flying I like to listen to podcasts. Top of the list at the moment is “Hacking Your Leadership,” which is hosted by Chris Stark and Lorenzo Flores. I think empathy and emotional intelligence are two of the most important aspects of leadership.

They are often overlooked in the recruitment of leaders seeking traditional hard skills, but these soft skills are becoming ever more important in the changing landscape of juggling working in the office and working from home. That’s what “Hacking your Leadership” focuses on as well as developing leaders to create cultures at work that people never want to leave. 

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Chris Hemsworth – this guy is everywhere! Acting, impressive business ventures like Centr (which I am an avid user of) on the work front, while still managing to keep himself in great shape and spending quality time with family and friends. 

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Keeping a healthy work-life balance can be really difficult, but I really believe it is key to high performance and having a healthy life. If you think you don’t have a good work/life balance, don’t try and change everything overnight which is totally overwhelming. Try changing one thing at a time and be confident you will get it right in due course.

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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.