Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Anil Patel, Co-Founder & Chairman of VIRTUAL MGR

Anil Patel is the co-founder and Chairman of global regulatory technology (RegTech) solutions business VIRTUAL MGR.

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

I’m the co-founder and chairman of VIRTUAL MGR, an Australian technology company innovating regulatory technology (RegTech) solutions. VIRTUAL MGR offers completely customisable software platforms across a range of industries.

I co-founded the business in 2014, acting first as managing director for the UK and US operations before taking on the role of chairman in 2018 and relocating to the Gold Coast. 

VIRTUAL MGR is ranked as the 181st fastest growing software company in the United States in the Inc 5000, a list of America’s fastest-growing private companies. We have seen significant increases in turnover year-on-year, with a phenomenal growth of 469% for the past financial year.

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

I generally wake up at 5 am and start the day with my journal and an espresso (or two). Every journal I complete works out as a 13-week sprint, broken down by week and daily goals and activities. I fill out my daily gratitudes and then look at the goals for the day.

The early start means I can start my calls with the US office to cross over with their end of the day, usually ending at around 8 am. 

After that, I hit a reformer pilates class designed to increase core strength. I enjoy the community feel of the classes and the greater flexibility and rotation have benefited my golf game massively.

I head into the office around 10 am and assist the team where I can and meet with our Australian clients. Generally, the early start means I can finish my day at 2.30 pm and head to school to pick up the boys. Most nights they’re doing sports training, and some nights I help coach one of my boys’ cricket teams. 

Most evenings I relax with my wife and dog Archie watching Yellowstone, Ozark or sports. The early start means I am usually in bed early, although there are some rare occasions where I will have a call at 8/9 pm with our London office. 

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

Work-life balance to me means that I can exercise five times a week, pick up the kids at least three times a week, play golf every Friday afternoon and schedule work commitments from 5 am to 2 pm Monday to Thursday. 

I reserve Friday mornings for chores, so we can enjoy the weekend and then golf from lunchtime so it does not impact the kids’ sports at the weekend. I achieve that by only scheduling meetings on my calendar during specific slots. I prioritise school pick ups, then exercise, then meeting availability after that. 

Another area of balance is through giving back. I mentor several start-ups, scale-ups and not-for-profit ventures. There was little support nine years ago when we started the business, so I am passionate about giving back. I enjoy working with founders and seeing their passion and vision for their businesses. 

In my work life, balance means ‘alignment’, whether it’s alignment with the exec team, staff, or stakeholders. If any of those are misaligned, then action is required – even if it sometimes feels painful in the moment. 

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

No, because I try to keep things as consistent as I can. I was away in the US for 10 weeks from May to July this year, with a family trip to Mexico and Disney in between. Even with all of that going on, I still maintained my gym schedule by signing up for F45 gyms in every city I was based over the period. Consistency is king.

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

I love recording our podcast, The How Did We Get Here Podcast? It has personally helped me to grow and learn from global sports stars and successful entrepreneurs. Aside from my own, I love Tim Ferris and his podcast. 

I also have a subscription to Blinkist which summarises books across all sectors, so I can often listen to one book on the way to and from work.

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

Richard Branson. I am a huge fan of the variety of business sectors he is involved in and why he starts various ventures. He also seems to have a great life out of work.

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

In the past I worked 80+ hours a week, never went to the gym and rarely went to the kids’ schools. To get past that point, I implemented a mantra of always hiring someone better than myself. This has facilitated my role to be less hands-on from an operational standpoint so that my team can get on with running the business without me acting as a bottleneck. 

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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.