Balancing the Grind With Fintan Lalor, Regional Manager APAC at Wrike

Fintan Lalor is the Regional Manager APAC at Wrike, a collaborative work management platform founded in 2006 and headquartered in Silicon Valley.

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

I moved into my current role at Wrike in November last year, just a few weeks before the opening of our new APAC headquarters in Melbourne.

Before this, I was based in our EMEA HQ in Dublin specialising in multiple areas of the company, including new business, expansion, and customer retention.

The first decade of my career was spent in sales and business development positions, but my interest in tech was piqued in 2013 when I was contributing to Citrix’s growth in the EMEA region, before making the move to Wrike, where I have now been for over three years.

2) What is your current role, and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I am currently Wrike’s Regional Manager for APAC, and my primary focus is to expand the team within the region.

What I enjoy about my day-to-day is that it’s always varied.

Although on Monday I might be focusing on managing the territory strategy, customer base or making sure the team hits their targets, my Friday could be blocked out for customer relationship building meetings and interviewing new talent.

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

Because no day is the same, I’ll take you through my day last Friday:

6:00 am – Got up.

6:45 am – Cycled to the office. I find this commute gives me time to think and allows me to kick off on the way in and switch off on the way home.

8:00 am – Settled in at my desk and caught up on emails, Wrike tasks, and updates that came in overnight from the teams in EMEA and the US.

9:00 am – Reviewed our figures, forecast, and pipeline ahead of the bi-weekly stand-up sales meeting.

10:00 am – Interviewed a candidate for an open role. Given how quickly we’re growing, I typically have interviews scheduled in at least two days out of the week.

11:00 am – Worked on running reports and crunching some numbers

12:00 pm – Held a weekly meeting with our Customer Success Team to get up to speed on any new customer stories and best practices in their pipeline.

2:00 pm – Joined some of the team reps for customer meetings.

4.00pm – Had our weekly team meeting, covering updates, successes from the week, and any upcoming team events.

4.30pm – 5.30pm – back on admin work and focused on my plan for the following week

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

Daily planning needs to be personalised, and a lot of that is about knowing when to catch yourself at your most productive.

I try to get the highest impact work off my plate earlier in the morning, then I can focus on smaller or less urgent tasks throughout the day.

I’m also very conscious of cutting out any non-essential activities from my schedule and am continually reviewing where my time is spent and where I have wasted it. Nine times out of ten, there is something I could have taken out or postponed.

It may seem simple, but so many of us forget to take a break, and it can really hinder productivity if you don’t. Set a routine, take small breaks often, and you’ll thank yourself for it in the long run!

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5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

Balance is critical to keeping yourself and those around you happy, but if you don’t hold yourself accountable to your own rules, you can quickly fall into bad habits.

Each day outside of work, I make a conscious effort to both make time for exercise and to sit down and have dinner with my wife.

6) What does work-life balance mean to you?

For me, it’s making sure to put time aside for your family and your hobbies every week. Given Wrike’s recent expansion into APAC, the lion’s share of my time is spent at work, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t made time for my family.

My wife Angie and I have a date night every Tuesday – something I make a point of never breaking.

I still set time aside to relax and indulge in the things I like such as cycling, golf, reading, wine, and movies, because as much as I enjoy the work portion of my life, I recognize that my hobbies are an equally important part of my routine.

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

Focusing on one thing at a time is a principle that can be applied both in the workplace and at home.

Being present in a conversation, a meeting, or even just when cooking dinner at home is a great habit to get into. It forces you to separate and manage your time most effectively.

Planning in advance will also help you avoid unwanted stress and manage your time effectively. Meeting moved? No problem. Plan which tasks can be completed in this slot ahead of time to keep your day running smoothly.

Once you’ve made sure each corner of your personal tripod (work, social, and hobbies) has been given equal attention, get plenty of sleep. I have to say, this is the one habit I’ve always been very good at!

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

Yes, I regularly read about productivity, and I am fascinated by the psychology behind it. Covey’s book 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is excellent. As is David Allen’s book, Getting Things Done.

Aside from reading, I regularly listen to Guy Raz’s podcast How I Built This. It’s really great. The podcast dives into the fascinating stories of some of the world’s best-known companies and the entrepreneurs behind them.

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

Structure is huge for me. No matter how long I’ve been sitting at my desk, I never leave the office without running through my plan and schedule for the next day.

This applies to meetings too. Even for internal meetings, I always confirm attendance in advance and ensure we have a set agenda so that we don’t deviate from our main priorities and have a clear idea of what next steps are expected from whom.

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

Yes, one thing that I am actively pursuing is staying focused on what is important and learning to say “no” to what isn’t.

If you don’t differentiate between the two, you run the risk of being pulled in multiple directions and potentially burning out further down the line.

All in all, don’t sweat the small stuff – it’s unnecessary stress. Stick to what’s important and put those things into your day deliberately and systematically to ensure you get the most out of your time.

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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.