Balancing the Grind With Laura Robbie, General Manager ANZ at Lightspeed Research

Laura Robbie is the General Manager (Australia/NZ) at Lightspeed Research, a market research company part of Kantar Group, the world’s leading data, insights and consultancy company.

Balance the Grind spoke to Laura about her work around the world, balancing a job with her 2-year old daughter, maximising quality time, swimming to recharge, meditation and more.

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

I have worked in Marketing and Market Research since I graduated in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2003. My career has taken me all over the world, managing teams in Europe, the States and across Asia.

Now I live in Sydney, which has been home for the last 11 years and I am the General Manager of a market research business. The travel that has accompanied my positions has been incredible and a better education than any kind of text book study could provide.

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

As General Manager, I lead the Australia based teams servicing Australia and New Zealand based clients with data for insights.

I love people and am at my best when our teams are busy and the office is abuzz, collaborating to deliver to clients. The energy is great and infectious.

The work day always starts with an almond cap but that’s about as structured as any given day in any given week. I spend a lot of time with clients, understanding how we can help them solve business problems using the right data.

As an international business, we also spend a lot of time collaborating globally and regionally on what initiatives we want to launch and what recent successes we have had and can replicate. Those calls may happen early in the morning or late at night.

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

I have a 2 year old at home and so the day starts early. I get up at 5am to start the day and my daughter follows about 6am. We have breakfast and read a book before daycare drop off at 7am.

I am lucky to drive to work and I have the ability to work flexibly, so I start in the office before 8am and finish at 4.30pm to get home for play, bath and bedtime. The day is typically spent in Sydney city, with client meetings close to the office or North of the city.

As the week is so busy and time to sleep is limited, we power through Monday to Friday and then collapse into bed exhausted at 8pm on a Friday night.

The simple things in life really are the best things in life – a walk at the shore, an ice-cream, a trip to the park to feed the ducks or just staying in and playing with toys is just as beneficial and joyful.

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

This is something that I am constantly making adjustments to try to achieve. My daughter and I live alone and so life needs to be hyper organised to fit everything in.

In striving to maximise the quality time I spend with her, what I’ve realised is that running around trying to do new things and activities all the time to ‘make up’ for time away from her isn’t necessary.

The simple things in life really are the best things in life – a walk at the shore, an ice-cream, a trip to the park to feed the ducks or just staying in and playing with toys is just as beneficial and joyful.

I make sure that I have plenty of time early or late in the day to catch up with friends and family back in Scotland on Skype and I’ve just bought a wetsuit to get back into swimming once a week.

Downtime for me now doesn’t need to be a fancy dinner or a spa day – I have a brilliant bunch of friends who are as happy ‘sitting in’ as they are going out and I couldn’t do without them.

Deleting Facebook has been a huge time saver and helped me add minutes to the day to focus on what’s important.

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

Bikram yoga and running used to be my favourite ways to recharge, but this year I’m going to be swimming through the winter. Bondi is such a great place to live, with everything on your doorstep.

The water will only get colder into these winter months and there is nothing like it to wake you up and speed up your stroke. I love Icebergs and won’t miss the summertime selfie-takers.

The Bondi-Coogee beach walk with a Yoga Girl podcast is another favourite and that walk just never gets old. It’s best during the upcoming whale season.

Saturday mornings at the moment are swimming lessons with my daughter and I love that time for us to do something focused and structured together, then the rest of the weekend can just flow.

6) Are there any gadgets, tools or products can’t you live without?

Between 5.30 and 8pm I try to be off my phone and laptop as much as possible during the week.

Those are my gadget free hours of the day. A friend recently recommended an app called 1 Giant Mind, which is a guided mediation technique.

I am trying to incorporate that into the end of my day, to help let go of the stress of the day and get a better sleep.

In terms of products, my beauty regimen has taken a bit of a battering over the last few years, so I’m going to say my fake tan. I feel better when my pale Scottish skin has a bit of colour!

7) Do you have any books that you love and would like to recommend?

On the work front, I tend not to get too into business or management books. I think that learning on the job through trial and error is more tailored and relevant.

If you take the time to really think about why your great teachers have been great and what behaviours you haven’t enjoyed from other bosses and colleagues, that helps you to find your own work style.

In my opinion, nothing matters more than genuinely caring about the people you work with and that’s not something you can learn to do from a book.

I do read a lot though and listen to a lot of podcasts  when driving back and forth from the office – my favourites are autobiographical and I love travel books (Bill Bryson).

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

I heard it said that you can find meditation in anything. For me, that’s the sound of my daughter sleeping first thing in the morning and last thing at night.

If she is cosy and warm, healthy and happy, then we have everything we need. It’s a moment of profound gratitude morning and evening.

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

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.