Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Andrew Gilham, Co-Founder of Solar Architects Australia

Andrew Gilham is the co-founder of Solar Architects Australia, an accredited renewable energy company providing engineering, design, installation and retailing services to the wine growing and agricultural industries around Australia.

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

I started following my passion for sports in Melbourne working for the premier sports marketing agency, Elite Sports Properties, which was a dream job for a 20-year-old sports-mad graduate. During 2012-2013, I based myself in London and took some time off to travel through Europe.

I was fortunate to return to an amazing opportunity working within Diageo Australia’s Sponsorship team. Diageo is the largest spirits business in the world and held the lion’s share of the sponsorship rights to major events throughout Australia. It was a fantastic ride, but after six great years with Diageo, I decided it was time to give back to communities and the planet and pursue work that contributed net good to society.

I have spent the past three years running businesses rooted in sustainability, including Solar Architects Australia, which is an accredited renewable energy company providing engineering, design, installation and retailing services to the wine growing and agricultural industries around Australia.

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

It’s typically an early morning start with our 10-month-old, Angus, which means we get to enjoy the morning before work calls start to kick in from 7am when our solar installers begin arriving on site all around the country. Most mornings, I’ll either head to the gym, go for a walk with Angus, or enjoy a beach dip and a cup of coffee with my partner Lucy before arriving at the office between 9am-10am.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

Technology makes everything remote and flexible, which is fortunate given Solar Architects Australia’s work spans from the Hunter Valley in the east to Margaret River in the west, and everywhere in between.

A phone and laptop mean we can stay connected from anywhere. We can chat with our installers on the ground, our technical team back in the office, our suppliers, and our customers – wherever they are based. Video calls are an excellent substitute for in-person interactions and use fewer carbon footprints than air or road travel.

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

To be the best father, husband or business manager I can be, I know I need to feed myself first to remain present with my responsibilities across work and family. Feeding myself first means carving out time in the day to be me, whether that be in the form of surfing, going to the gym, reading or meditation.

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

Angus was a big change. Being a parent is full-on, but the rewards are like nothing else. He lights up our life. It just means I need more structure and self-discipline to ‘do me’. Also, working in a purpose-led business has made me appreciate nature a little more, so we do make a point of getting out amongst it as often as possible.

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

I love books. I’m reading Awareness by Anthony de Mello at the moment. It is so full of wisdom that sometimes I can only absorb a single page at a time. Highly recommend it. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Definitely my iPhone and AirPods (just ask my wife!), but also Spotify and Kayo Sports to unwind at the weekend.

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

I’m all ears for anything Elon Musk has to say about business and life. We use Tesla Powerwall batteries for our solar systems and I admire how he’s driving electric vehicle innovation and making it more accessible.

I’ve always had an incredible passion for building businesses that leave the world in a better place. To me, Australia’s transition to renewable energy is our greatest opportunity yet. Personally, it meets at the junction of a few things for me: one is financial freedom for my family, and the second is working in a field that I truly believe in.

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

Feed yourself first – in order for you to bring energy to your business, you’ve got to be operating on a full charge. Also, be your own CEO. Don’t wait for permission. I think in today’s work environment, it’s up to the individual to structure what works for them.

Also, I think part of today’s work-life balance is also about caring for the world we live in. We try to minimise our environmental footprint where possible when it comes to waste and energy consumption.

Before you go…

Check out more daily routines from Barack Obama, Arianna Huffington, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Michelle Obama, Sheryl Sandberg, Richard Branson, Warren Buffet and plenty others.

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.