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Balancing the Grind With Christina Chia, General Manager & Principal at North Shore Coaching College

Christina Chia is the General Manager & Principal at North Shore Coaching College, Australasia’s leading tuition college, with over 65 campuses in Australia.

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

I have over 20 years of senior management experience responsible for delivering strategic outcomes and multi-site operational efficiency in a fast paced environment across a range of service sectors, notably in the not-for-profit sectors, education sector and aged care/health care sector.

Some examples of roles held include Executive Officer at Royal Freemasons Ltd, an aged care provider; Director of Marketing at Freemasons Victoria; Project Manager at The Salvation Army Employment Plus.

I am a married mother of two daughters, multilingual, a Malaysian born Chinese who resides in Melbourne for over 28 years, I hold a MBA and Bachelor of Business Marketing & HRM with RMIT University. Being a migrant, I see great importance of connection, inclusivity, equity, fairness and trust for better quality of life of its people and community.

I am passionate about a fostering community connections and legacy of giving and service to our community. When individuals thrive, families get stronger and our community becomes abundant and a better place to live. This is to keep the “circle of abundance” going!

I see myself as carrying out a dual role on a daily basis.

1) My role as a business leader.

I am currently employed as the General Manager & Principal for North Shore Coaching College. I am responsible for multi-site operations of 20 Campuses across Victoria providing strategic leadership and management oversight to drive inclusive growth and organisational change for our learning community.

My workplace and our customers are predominantly from diverse and multicultural backgrounds.

2) My role as a community leader.

I am involved in the following communities:

  • Rotary International – I am currently the Assistant Governor for District 9810. I have been a Rotarian since I was a teenager in Malaysia.
  • Mental Health Foundation Australia (MHFA) – I am currently the Vice Chair to the MHFA Ambassador Program and also, its Multicultural Ambassador.
  • Asian Australian Family Association (AAFA) – I am currently the President to AAFA, a not-for-profit organisation that embraces multiculturalism and has served the community for over 50 years.

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

No two days are the same in my role.

As a senior Executive and business leader, my day is predominantly responsible for trouble shooting, putting out ‘spot fires’ so to speak and problem solving, stakeholder engagement and expectations management. This requires good communication skills and ability to communicate effectively particularly in a multicultural workplace environment where several languages are used.

I am cognisant to be strategic and this means that appropriate delegation of duties, educating and empowering my team members are essential to achieve the organisation goals. So, a portion of my day is spent with my team members or stakeholders – mostly meetings with Campus Directors, teachers, parents, etc.

I normally attend to emails at the later part of the day or after work (at home) or after a business/ community events. I normally go to bed around midnight and my day begins around 8.30am and it is a requirement to work weekends!

I see myself as a key person of influence, setting standards and investing time and energy on my people as key success factor to my role.

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

I do not see my role as confined to a 9 to 5 schedule. As a senior executive, the expectation is that I deliver the desired outcomes for the organisation. This means that I am not measured by the hours I spend in the office, so to speak.

I work seven (7) days a week or when the need arises to the “get the job done”. Over the years, it is difficult to fully separate my work, community and personal life – especially with the trend of building your personal brand.

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

My iPhone – I have fully embraced and utilised the iPhone to the optimum! My emails can be responded immediately or less than 24 hours, better access to communication, time management and increased my overall effectiveness and efficiency as an operator.

Having an hour of power each week – this allows me to reset, focus and be strategic.

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

I see it as life-work balance – getting my life balanced first and then my work life will balance itself. I will be more productivity, energised and valuable to achieve better outcomes for the organisation by putting my life in balance first.

Given the heavy work schedule and my myriad community commitments, I make sure that I take time off from work as a priority every quarterly to reset, reflect and recharge. If I am not able to go away, I take a weekend off where I just read a book, meditate or just sleep – not reading work emails or entertaining any work related matters.

This also means that I have to prioritize my happiness and health above all which means that I have to be super organised, efficient and effective and ensure all things that I do honors me, my family, my priorities and my organisations goals.

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?

Taking the time to reset, reflect and recharge, and to be still! Focus on my inner self, identify my true essence and understand my soul purpose and value for this planet.

Taking action appropriately and not procrastinate. With my hectic schedule, to ensure I am productive, effective and efficient, I normally do the following:

a) make a decision so the matter is resolved or completed

b) If I am unable to make a decision, I will park it but a reminder to revisit later

c) delegate the matter

Utilising the convenience of digital technologies and social media, I am able to optimise my busy day by listening to Ted Talks, YouTube videos – when I am driving, on the tread mill or getting ready for work. It also gives me motivation, inspires me and adds more knowledge.

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

There are many books that I have read over the years that have assisted me professionally and personally. The books I read are mostly recommended books by friends, my mentors and are mostly written by famous and popular authors such as Simon Sinek, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou and the likes. However, I would recommend this book:

Destiny Put Yourself First by Karina Godwin. The key message is to find your own brilliance and to put ‘me’ first.

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

Meditation – I meditate before I sleep and also when before I rise each morning.

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

It is the nothing new or extraordinary – 2 things:

a) I believe in dreams and setting goals

You have the power to create the life you love and take your dreams and make it your goals.

But you must manifest, dream and set goals!

b) Speak to the heart of things – ‘say what you mean and mean what you say’

It will drive you and push you forward. Be clear and true to yourself. Sometimes you can stand tall by not saying anything and walking away – pick and choose your battles.

If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.