CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Kiarne Treacy, Founder & CEO of Sustainable Choice

Kiarne Treacy is the Founder and CEO of Sustainable Choice, a digital platform where brands can publish their environmental actions and impact with full transparency, to help consumers make more informed sustainable choices.

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

I am a brand and marketing strategist by trade and have worked in marketing leadership roles for nearly 16 years. Most notably I was the General Manager of Consumer Marketing for Vocus Group, leading iconic Aussie brands Dodo and iPrimus.

Over the past 5 years I have worked in my own boutique agency consulting in brand, marketing and communications for purpose-led businesses or those on a journey towards environmental transformation.

It was in this capacity that I recognised an imminent need for a universal consumer-centric information resource that brands could use to publish and substantiate their sustainability commitments, and I set out to build one in June 2020. 

I am currently the Founder and CEO of Sustainable Choice, leading a rockstar team in a technology start-up with ambitious plans to change the world, and have fun doing it. 

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

Every day is so different, but they generally start with 30-45 mins in my home gym with my Personal Trainer on Zoom. I’m not great at self-motivating in the gym so I really need my coach to get me out of bed.

Once I’m ready I either jump in the car and head to our co-working space in South Melbourne or jump in my sweats and head to my home office. These days most meetings are on Zoom so I have been spending less time on the road, but I still try to make time to see people face-to-face for a coffee when I can. 

Running two businesses means anything could be on the agenda; some days I am in recording studios overseeing advertising production, other days catching up with fellow founders and industry experts, or meeting with clients over Zoom to talk about how Sustainable Choice can enrich their business. 

I love having a laugh with my team – we are all massive animal lovers. When we’re together in the office we talk about all the wonderful dogs in our co-working space and when we’re WFH, we have a dedicated Slack channel to share pictures of our dogs and how cute they are at home. 

I try to spend 9-5 actively meeting people, connecting with my team, responding to emails, taking important calls, and tackling time-sensitive business. I tend to keep solo work outside of business hours.

Most days after dinner I will sit down for a few hours and go into focus mode: anything that requires me to stay uninterrupted, like completing business documents, refining presentations, reviewing reports, preparing for upcoming pitches or media opportunities, and so on. For example, answering these interview questions is an after-hours / weekend thing for me.

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

That’s the joy about being the boss, you can write your own rules! 

Sustainable Choice was born in the height of Melbourne’s lockdowns so my team has a pretty seamless technology stack that connects us to work anywhere, anyhow. We are extremely flexible but try to work together physically 2-3 times a week.

Our co-working space allows us to not only connect with each other, but also with a bunch of other brilliant start-up minds we meet in the halls (and steal cuddles from their dogs). 

I really get to choose how and when I work and from what location, so does my team. But I generally like to start my workday around 8-9am. My mornings are busy with home, gym, dogs etc, so I’m lucky that I can take it slow and start later when I need to. 

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

To me, work-life balance is about getting everything done that fulfils me. For me that is giving my husband and dogs the attention they need, never missing milestones with family and friends, and then using every other minute building my businesses and keeping my team employed. 

It’s certainly not for everyone. I skip ‘down time’ to keep the ships sailing. If I do not have plans, I’m generally working on something. For me, that just means that when I DO have plans, no matter what day/time I can comfortably be away from my work and focus on the people around me. 

The biggest ‘balance’ for me is ensuring I can do all the things I want to do and be there for all the people (and pets) that need me, whilst keeping my businesses moving forward, growing, prospering! 

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

Probably not in the past 12 months, but lockdowns certainly changed my life, and my routines, dramatically – when many things that I used to have to do in-person could suddenly be done on Zoom, sometimes without even having to wash my hair!

These days, thanks to hybrid working, I have more time throughout the day to get a lot more done , since even travelling to the gym is off my list so I am more efficient. 

Also, I would say that hiring people I trust to take on my workloads has definitely changed my life. Because of this, I have been able to shift from running a business and working ‘in’ it to working ‘on it’, now focusing on preparing to raise capital. That being said, capital raising is a full-time job in itself, so I still work a lot.

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

Oh, yes. Start Up Therapy with Ryan Rutan and Wil Schroter is my absolute favourite. I never miss an episode and find myself going back to re-listen to old ones. It’s great for entrepreneurs who are running businesses, building businesses or thinking about starting one! 

A few favourite books: Decoding Greatness by Ron Friedman, How to Avoid a Climate Disaster by Bill Gates and the ever-loved and widely regarded bible of start-up culture, The Lean Startup by Eric Reis. 

Also, follow Trevor Noah’s The Daily Show on every social platform you can. He is incredibly smart, articulate, thought-provoking, hilarious and human. Honestly, his ability to communicate what most of us are thinking in a way that is witty and unbelievably accurate is a gift. 

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

Oh, absolutely all of them. My life is a digitally connected universe. I am an early adopter of technology, I push it onto the people around me so I can have access to them in my circles too.

Group WhatsApp chats are so important. It keeps me connected. I have a family chat and a few different friendship group chats that keep us so much closer and in each other’s daily lives. I live for my group chats when I can’t be physically with people every day. Especially when we show each other our cooking skills (or lack thereof). 

Slack, Trello, Google Drive, this keeps the wheels turning every day. I think sometimes we take for granted how seamlessly we can work from anywhere and everything is always at our fingertips. Also Spotify, because music cures all!

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

Hmm, interesting question. Perhaps Sheryl Sandberg. She’s been through ALL of the ups and downs while carrying one of the most high-profile, influential jobs on the planet. 

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

I think work-life balance means something different to each person. There is no single definition, no right or wrong. For some, it’s working 40 hours a week and switching off the rest of the time.

For me, it’s about trying to fit it all in, in my experience those hours are often closer to 60 or 70, but I love it. When you love what you do, when you are passionate about it and when work is a part of your life, they can work harmoniously together.

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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.