Interviews / Operations

Balancing the Grind With John Wilson, Senior Operations & Change Specialist

John Wilson is a Senior Operations & Change Specialist with over 15 years of achievements across companies such as Sony PlayStation, DHL and Coco Republic.

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

Well I have had an interesting and varied background, my first role was a games tester for Sony PlayStation in Liverpool in England, when I was just 18. From there I worked my way up the ranks within the business, moving to London and having a number of management roles in the Customer Service, E-Commerce space.

I took a break from working and self funded a trip to South America to assist in teaching English to children for a year, followed by an internship (of sorts) with the Financial Times in New York. I was approached whilst in New York by PlayStation regarding a role in Sydney and moved soon after (approx. 16 years ago).

I worked here for PlayStation for 4 years before moving into General Management of a medium privately owned Technical Repair business, this is where I had my first real taste of broad management and leadership.

A stint at DHL in a senior BD role followed which was a fantastic experience with great mentors before being headhunted back into a operational leadership role within Coco Republic.

At Coco Republic I was responsible for end to end Supply Chain and again leadership and communication was key to success, the company was on a fantastic growth phase and it was great to be a part of that team, brand, and business.

I decided after 2 years at Coco Republic I would like to commence studying at university, specifically counselling, and thats when I started my own management consultancy business.

I have been blessed during this period to work with some amazing companies and assist in real positive change whilst maintaining their culture.

More recently I was in a GM/COO role in a large food processing and fresh produce business, I am now actively seeking a new challenge.

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

As I’ve said I’m currently looking for my next challenge but I will refer to my previous role. It was an early start with the business being 24/6 so generally at the facility 5.30/6am.

First up would be checking the days operation and any issues, with direct comms to the line managers involved. This would be followed up by emails/phone calls/and what I used to call Central Station – My Office, with multiple personnel coming through the office to discuss things, this is natural and warranted in a change management phase of a business.

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

Given most of my roles have been in large scale change management projects there is very little typical about each day. There will be issues that need to be addressed and importantly rectified, but more importantly understanding and developing processes to fix the root cause, this is often overlooked in business.

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

Root cause. I cannot stress this enough, every business will have its issues, but addressing the fundamental cause is the absolute priority, this removes the need for time spent on reassurance of the issue.

Delegation is also key. You cannot be a true business leader without having the ability to train, trust, mentor and delegate to the team.

This is its simplest format is ensuring that each individual is clear on their responsibilities in the organise and what is expected of them, then having simple measure to be able to judge that performance.

It is amazing how many businesses do not, however, have this setup, which causes confusion, blame and overlap of roles.

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

My business card will not be my tombstone.

Balance is key to maintaining the highest performing levels within the workplace, without this there is risk of under performance, stress and burnout.

Boundaries are a must, whilst I am available 24/7 across all of my roles there is time out required, where the phone is not checked and we appreciate the life around us.

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

Holidays are key here, a great manager and mentor of mine would switch off emails and his phone for the entire time he was away, whilst not always practical this is a great example of balance and trust in your team.

For me personally time with my son is the most important thing in my life, which gives me great perspective.

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?

As I’ve noted you need to set boundaries and also understand your own trigger points for stress, I have learnt over the years through experience and personal reflection what these are

8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

Its probably a very unfashionable statement but I am not an avid reader of management books.

I do however like to understand the psychology of the human brain, Rewire Your Brain: Think Your Way to a Better Life by John B. Arden is a fantastic read.

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

For personally, you have to feel like something has been achieved during the workday, this can be small or large but achieve something daily.

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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.