Interviews / Operations

Balancing the Grind with April Scott, Head of Operations at Portt

April Scott is the Head of Operations at Portt, an intelligent source-to-contract and supplier management platform.

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

My career path has been an interesting one – from real estate to government, then to founding my own professional services firm, and now back into the corporate world again. I have a burning desire to always be learning, which has taken me many places and presented many opportunities for growth.

My current role is as Head of Operations at Portt – my remit includes management of Finance, People and Culture, Facilities and Internal IT – leading and supporting the teams, functions and well-being of all staff across three offices, in Australia and Vietnam.

As part of the Executive Committee, and reporting to the Co-CEO’s and board, I contribute to strategy development and implementation, along with leading the finance and operational component of all high-level strategic projects.

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

My days are varied and sometimes unpredictable – which I love, life is never boring.

A typical day sees me up at 5am and working out at home – something that I started doing in lockdown, and now prefer! I have a small gym setup and do 30-45 mins weight training to start my day every day.

This time is key to starting my day in the right mindset. I am a single mum to three beautiful kids, so 6:30-8am is dedicated to getting them up and off to school. The commute is around 40 mins, another time I’ve learned to treasure since the pandemic – who knew I’d miss the commute!

My days are often packed with meetings, and time for focused work needs to be carved out when required.

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

I ran a virtual team in my own company, and flexible working practices were key for me when I reentered the corporate world. At Portt, being a tech company, we have always been quite flexible with remote/work from home.

I really missed the face to face time with colleagues during the lockdowns in 2020 and 2021, so now aim for around 75% in-office per week.

I usually spend 2-3 days each in our Newcastle and Sydney offices, and average 1-2 days from home. Sometimes I will need to be home with sick children, school holidays etc. so flexibility is definitely important.

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

When people ask me this question I usually respond with “there’s no such thing!”. I’ve been a full time working mum for a long time, and have spent much of that studying also (I am currently completing my MBA).

I think of it as a work-life juggle, there is no magical place you will get to and feel “balanced” – you will always feel you’re losing a little in at least one area.

Someone said to me once – you will always be juggling multiple balls when you’re a working parent – the key is to work out which of those balls can bounce if you drop them, and which are glass. I remember this often.

There’s key things that I need to function well – daily exercise, enough sleep, and good fuel for my body. These are non-negotiable. Then there are the million competing priorities that come with my role, and being a mum. Sometimes things get prioritised over others, it’s a constant re-adjustment.

I have always been a planner, which helps – and Sunday evenings in our house involve a big whiteboard and many coloured markers defining priorities and schedules for the week ahead.

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

Two things come to mind – this year, because I’ve started studying again, I knew I had to be even more efficient and protective of my time.

I have started time-blocking two mornings a week for focused work, to avoid it slipping into my weekends – I jump in and work on whatever I’ve planned for that time and turn off all notifications until it’s complete, it’s going great so far.

I’ve also started automating some tasks at home – the kids and I came up with a monthly meal schedule, and put together re-usable online shopping lists for each of the four weeks, saving much time on the weekends planning, shopping and preparing.

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

My goodness – so many! I don’t read as much as I’d like, due to my schedule – though I always have a “wishlist” going and read 8 books over the Christmas Break this year. My favourites would have to have been Women and Leadership by Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, and Delusions of Gender by Cordelia Fine.

I am an avid listener of podcasts, and listen to them exclusively when exercising, driving or completing domestic duties at home. I’m currently listening to Inside your mind – Stephen Fry, Invisibilia – NPR Media, and my two weekly can’t miss podcasts are True Crime and Cocktails with Lauren Ash and Christy Oxborrow and Wilosophy with Wil Anderson.

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

Funnily enough, I’m a traditionalist when it comes to organising – I still love pen and paper and whiteboards. I would have to say my AirPods – they’re an extension of me these days. I did splurge on an espresso machine at home halfway through 2020 – and I don’t think I would have survived lockdown without it!

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

It’s impossible – and may already exist somewhere, but if I could choose anyone, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She has always been such an inspiration to me – a large majority of her career, and even study, happened after becoming a mother, and she reached such heights and was a force for so much change in her lifetime. 

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

The conversation around work-life and time management always comes back to the same things: what is important to YOU? Define this, then decide how you are going to protect your time, physical and mental health to make sure those things are prioritised. We live in a society where attention is the biggest commodity – make sure you are intentional with your attention.

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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.