Coaches / Directors / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Catherine Heilemann, Director & Master Coach at The Salary Coach

Catherine Heilemann is the Director & Master Coach at The Salary Coach, which offers individual and group career coaching for professionals.

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

I’ve spent my career working across the fields of Human Resources, Sales, Business and Change Management with some of the worlds most renowned, blue chip clients including: IBM, Westpac, Allianz, Telstra, St. George, Blackmores, Xerox and Mobil Oil.

With a flair for navigating organisational compliance, I was the first to introduce and lead the Global Resourcing function at IBM and lead negotiations that won venture capital funding for my Data Workforce Measurement invention that served on-demand evidence around a workforce of 330,000 strong.

Now, as an expert coach I’ve worked with thousands of individuals to refine their focus, overcome career development blocks and progress their impact at work both personally and financially. My philosophy begins with the premise of change and my approach leverages positive, goal-focused and evidence-based methods to help my clients be the change they are targeting.

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

Being a business owner means you are ‘on’ most of the time and jack of all trades. Waking up thinking about work and going to be thinking about work. And its easy as I’m enjoy it so much that I forget about balance.

A regular day includes being up at 5am and working by 7am. Depending on the day I may be client-side, working with individual coaching clients, meeting prospective clients, nutting out what next with the website with my creative crew, working through marketing tactics with my Marketing Assistant, paying bills, talking to the book-keeper and/or account, researching ideas and so on.

Interspersed with that I aim to exercise two-three times a week and ‘be social’ at least once a week. As often as I can on Friday mornings I get on the water with my surf-ski and watch the sun come up while getting a good hour’s worth of exercise. Afterwards its breakfast with the crew and lots of laughing.

Mindfulness practise is also a part of my week and I take time for this with a renewed enjoyment of (don’t judge me) knitting. The rhythm of the needles and wool along with the creation of something special for someone is amazing energising. And each week I spend time in the garden – making sure all is well. Trying to attract bees and ensure they have a healthy space.

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

When I’m client side its tough to have flexibility – that is working from home or my own office. However, remote working is a part of most days. With coaching clients all over Australia and some internationally remote working is a must. Videoconference technology just gets better all the time.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Managing your workload and schedule takes a bit of focus. My tips are to make sure everything is calendared. Even if it’s a bill reminder.

Make sure your work and out of work calendars are integrated so you can see just what is coming up and make decisions about what can be accommodated and when. If you know you are going to be overloaded with work make sure you arrange to complete it in a timeframe you know can be met.

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

Progressively over the past 10 years I have sought more work-life balance. It started with me moving from Asia Pacific and Global responsibilities to National. And now I have my own business.

With that comes a sense of agency – that is being able to intentionally make decisions about what I will, won’t, can and can’t do. It means an enormous amount to me, and whilst I work ridiculous hours at the moment with a start-up business, it is on my terms. For me it has an enormous impact.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

For me habits don’t stand alone. Habits, knowledge of what I’m doing, being able to reasonably anticipate how a situation may pan out, my capability from years of experience and my willingness to focus on whatever the success and balance are together enable the way my habits have formed.

What I have done is to become very clear on what outcome I am aiming for. With that I have set mini-goals and milestones to achieve those outcomes – I am roughly clear on when I will be able to reach a milestone. That gives me confidence, and when I reach that milestone I am very satisfied.

Of course reaching milestones doesn’t mean I stop there. I am forever setting out plans and having to check myself in terms of when I can realistically achieve them.

So, having my wish-list is another habit I have formed. As I am able to find capacity I can start to tackle another item on the wish-list. Belief is an attribute rather than a habit. Believing in what I do enables me to focus on how to achieve an outcome. And how to create balance. When things are unclear its hard to have balance – IMHO.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Three books and one philosophy come to mind right now and they are Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, not so much a book as following The Gottman Institute for Relationships. They talk about the four horsemen of the apocalypse which I use a lot with my work.

Becoming by Michelle Obama for her thoughtful insights to life. And lastly Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity by David Whyte.

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

One thing? Wow, that is hard. I have a plan for each day that I work to. Its usually in my head and I get clear about my work allocations so that I don’t meander through the day.

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

Learning along the way what makes you tick. How you operate. What you value and why I think are great guides to help me to balance my life, and achieve what I can. Its never a straight line, and there are bumps (some larger than others) along the way.

What I have found has helped is knowing or working out what I want to achieve and taking small steps towards each. This I have found to have been especially helpful when having been through the bigger bumps.

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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.