Designers / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Andrew Peacock, Senior Product Designer at Atlassian

Andrew Peacock is the Senior Product Designer at Atlassian, where he is a part of the Growth team, working across the company’s suite of tools.

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

Currently I am a Product Designer on the Growth team at Atlassian. My career really started towards the end of my time at the Enmore Design Centre (Sydney) when I was offered a role in a new design and branding team at Ogilvy.

The role was my introduction to the world of design and offered me the opportunity to work on some pretty incredible clients (Coke, KFC and Qantas amongst them).

After a few years there, I decided to chase my dream of living in the US and headed to the beautiful city of Seattle to work at Microsoft, where I worked on products that were used by over a billion people and would bump into billionaires like Bill Gates in the elevators.

After 6 years there, I headed over to Google and worked on a product you have probably never heard of, Compute Engine. After 7 wonderful years in the states, I decided to return home to Sydney to be closer family (and be in a city that doesn’t rain 150 days a year).

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

I really try and prioritise the things I both enjoy doing, and also the places where I can bring most value. So for me, that is prioritising relationships.

In software development, like possibly all fields, I believe people are more important than products. If you look after people, and invest in the culture of an organisation, a quality product will follow.

I spend a lot of my day working with people, establishing and maintaining relationships and working hard every day to be the best and clearest communicator I can be. It’s funny, even though I am a Product Designer, I end up spending much more time in these areas than actually designing anything.

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

Well as I write this, we find ourselves in the middle of a global pandemic, so like it or not, employers have had no choice but to go all in on remote working. My impression prior to this, was that while Atlassian (like most tech companies) had the capability to support remote work, they encouraged workers to be in the office where possible.

I feel like we are on the cusp of that changing forever with companies like Twitter already announcing that employees can stay home indefinitely. Remote and flexible working will be the new norm.

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

There is no two ways about it. I work to life and not the other way around, and I draw clear boundaries between work and life. Being in isolation has challenged that because physically I am in the same space almost all day long – the two realms have somewhat merged.

In my head I establish some clear goals for the things I want to achieve that day, and being at home means you have the flexibility of when you actually get them done.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Separating out the signal to the noise. We talked a lot about this concept while at Microsoft on the Outlook team. It was important for us to distill the important email messages from all the noise that users get in their inbox.

So too with work, you are constantly bombarded with requests, messages, meetings and interruptions and it’s critical you seperate all that out from the important things you want to get done. I’m still learning what are the critical things to focus on, and what is the noise that you can just ignore.

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

Not really. I’m a little ADHD so sitting down and focusing on a book for me is really challenging. I am a bit of a news junkie though – and my favorite articles come from The Atlantic and The Economist.

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Prepare ahead and know what is happening tomorrow. And also prioritising mental and physical fitness. When things get stressful, I close my laptop and go for a walk.

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

Probably Bill Gates – I really look up to him. Obviously his accolades speak for themselves – but I love that he is incredibly successful, insatiably curious and still manages to almost come off as an every day kinda guy.

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

Work-life balance shouldn’t just be a priority for employees, it should also be a priority for employers. People are the biggest cost for organisations but also potentially their biggest asset as well.

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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.