Interviews / Operations

Balancing the Grind with Angus Rama Keck, Chief Operating Officer at AgUnity

Angus Rama Keck is the Chief Operating Officer at AgUnity, a global technology platform that empowers the thousands of organizations working to address UN SDGs.

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

Having studied a Master of Environment with Climate Change major at Melbourne Uni, my first professional role was as a consultant working for a boutique ICT consultancy in Melbourne.

Having spent the previous 10+ years in the organic retail sector (operations, customer service), this was my first desk job wearing a shirt and tie. And it was bloody stressful too. Our hourly rates weren’t cheap, and there was a huge amount of pressure on us as consultants to not stuff up. All our i’s dotted and t’s crossed.

While it wasn’t always enjoyable, I felt like the role set me up to take on most any task, project or idea with confidence. And overall the people were great too, lots of fun. For my current company, I initially started out as ‘social media’, that was literally what my first business card said. But it was just what the company needed at the time and I was volunteering, and happy to help how I could.

Then I was given the opportunity to be Chief of Staff, and finally now COO. In my role, I spend a lot of time on strategic activities, including capital raising and business strategy. I also spend a lot of my time on general operations – recruitment, people management, getting things done.

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

So my last Friday looked like this:

  • 6:30am – 9am: Yoga and Surfing networking event in the Gold Coast. Connected with other local fintechs and startups, while getting in some stretching and waves.
  • 9am – 10am: talking with my CEO on an idea to launch an independent token to support the people of Ukraine (just a ‘can we help, how’ situation).
  • 10am – 10:30am: talking with a recent investor under our SAFE note on other potential investors in their networks.
  • 10:30am – 11:30am: drafted a presentation for a pilot project using the AgriUT utility token with a major Australian coffee brand.
  • 11:30am – 12pm: call with the finance team to discuss latest updates and EOM activities
  • 12pm – 12:15pm: call with investor on potential pitching to Angel networks along the East coast of Aus
  • 12:15pm – 1pm: Lunch
  • 1pm: Daily Operations Team stand-up
  • 1:15pm – 2pm: worked on a current roadblock with a very large prospective client. Internal meeting to discuss approach and strategy.
  • 2pm – 3:30pm: worked on finalising our Information Memorandum for our Series A
  • 3:30pm – 3:45pm: tea break
  • 3:45pm – 4:30pm: cleaning up email and Asana inboxes ahead of the weekend
  • 4:30pm – 5:15pm: planning out key activities for next week
  • 5:15pm – 5:45pm: weekly Friday Drinks Zoom call with team
  • 6pm end of day

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

So I’m currently 100% remote, interjected with in-person catch-ups with my boss during the week. A lot of flexibility which is great for lifestyle (i.e. going surfing early or yoga in the afternoon), but honestly I miss a work office space even if only 1-2 days per week. Looking now at getting an office space back up and running.

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

There’s no point in doing any of what I do without work-life balance. But that doesn’t mean it’s also still pretty hard to achieve. The main things I focus on to achieve this are:

  • Exercise or meditation daily;
  • Daily gratitude journal;
  • No drinking wine/beer during the week;
  • Reading before bed;
  • Telling my boss when I’m feeling stressed;
  • Scheduling regular days off / holidays.

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

Yes. Surfing was new to me when I moved to the Gold Coast, and I’ve since fallen in love with it. During a particularly hectic part of the year last year following the launch of a new product (and effectively a new business), I was feeling burnt out and didn’t have my regular levels of energy.

I found that if I surfed in the morning for about an hour, it would fill me with the energy I needed to get through the day.

I’ve also re-started a regular yoga practice which has the same impact. Those two combined, plus a daily gratitude practice I’ve just started have been hugely helpful in giving me energy and getting through stressful times. 

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

Books: Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari; Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert Pirsig; Radical Candour, Kim Scott

Podcasts: Dare to Lead, Brene Brown on Spotify

Newsletters: Robinhood Snacks; The Atlantic; Morning Brew

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

Macbook, aText, BetterSnapTool, Asana.

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

Albert Einstein (think he had it nailed)

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

Ask yourself if you’re happy and or fulfilled in your job. If the answer is no, but you do it ‘believe it’s the right thing to do’ because maybe you get paid a lot or it’s a senior role, take a moment to rethink it. You only get one chance to be you in this life – don’t waste time working at something that might not ever bring you joy.

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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.