CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Allys Todd, Co-Founder & CEO of ValAi

Allys Todd is the Co-Founder & CEO of Val.Ai, a company building the tools industry needs today so they can meet the sustainable finance demands of society tomorrow.

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

I have a Bachelor of Technology, from Flinders University and over 15 years of experience driving

business strategy with a history of people and national program management across conservation, climate action, and natural capital carbon offset.

I am a shared value partnership specialist with a Prime Minister’s Award for Community

and Business Partnership.

As a brain tumour survivor (11 years post resection), I act as an ambassador for the Neurosurgical Research Foundation of Australia.

I am a strong supporter of reducing the gender investment gap and an active member of UBS Global Female Founder Collective, Coralus, and am a Board Member of the Hen House Cooperative.

I am the co-founder and CEO of climate-tech company ValAi which has a vision of contributing to decarbonizing the global economy by 2050. Our team are residents of ThincLab The University of Adelaide.

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

I’m a mum to 3 young kids, 4 guinea pigs, 1 cat, and 14 indoor plants. My day starts when I realise I have slept through my alarm and have lunchboxes to prepare and school drop-off deadlines.

Regularly I meet my start-of-day timelines but at least 1 day a month we forget something in the carpool and have to return home landing us all back in peak hour traffic.

I straddle work from the office (30 minutes commute) and home Monday – Friday. 

Every day is different with overseas zoom meetings, team check-ins, and presentations occurring in different time zones so it is not uncommon to be logging into a presentation at 1 am or sitting at my child’s dance practice and logging into my laptop to push a few emails out on weekends.

The juggle is real but so is my family calendar which holds the roster for the whole family including who is at what when and who is responsible for what chores/actions to keep our family functional.

A flexible routine does keep me grounded at home and in the workplace. Our company team uses agile tools to keep us moving forward. I can’t live without Slack or the Atlassian suite (Jira, Confluence, Trello) and any social media channel that delivers quality life hacks – I’m a subscriber.

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

My mantra is to work smarter, not harder, and not let perfection get in the way of possible. This is my current work in progress.

I set myself daily, weekly and monthly goals and swear by a timer when completing set computer tasks – it keeps me focused and I achieve more with less.

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

I have made audiobooks and paperbacks part of my routine. I listen to an audiobook a week on my commute and read a paperback ensuring I prioritise time off-screen – savouring the smell, feel, and daydreams that only come from a real book.

I also maintain my connection to nature which is my chance to slow down – dirty fingers tending to our veggie patch, bushwalks in my local national park, or an evening stroll at the local beach, toes sandy. This habit is one I will always strive to maintain.

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

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F**k, Sarah Knight
  • Dare to Lead, Brene Brown
  • Not Now Not Ever, Julia Gillard
  • Finding my Virginity, Sir Richard Branson
  • The Art of War, Sun Tzu
  • Zero to One, Peter Theils
  • The Lean Startup, Eric Reis
  • The New Yorker
  • Daily Humor E-news
  • The Startup Playbook Podcast, Rohit Bhargava

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

This question made me think about others – perhaps a woman in a war-torn country walking for days to seek water, food, shelter, or medication for a family member or a child born into a culture or era that didn’t support their hopes and dreams. 

I am blessed to exist in a time when I have the luxury of defining my own work-life balance. Stories that remind me to never take this for granted are important and should continue to be told. They keep me grounded and remind me to keep life and how I choose to live it in perspective.

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

As a self-confessed workaholic, I will have succeeded when the concept of work-life balance has been made redundant!

Work and Life should exist together as simply ‘living a full life’. I haven’t mastered this just yet, but when I do I’ll be sure to share the Kool-Aid or vintage Women’s Weekly cookbook recipe – whichever is more appropriate.

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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.