Balancing the Grind With Mark Randall, Country Manager, Australia/NZ at WP Engine

Mark Randall is the Country Manager, Australia/NZ at WP Engine, the world’s leading WordPress digital experience platform, where he has grown the team from three to thirty people, and doubling the customer base.

Subscribe to Balance the Grind’s newsletter so you never miss one of our conversations about work, life & balance.

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

I am currently leading the ANZ team at WP Engine, a platform that allows businesses and agencies of all sizes build and manage digital experiences on WordPress.

Early in my career I jumped right into the deep end and co-founded a couple of businesses, which was a fantastic experience and taught me about leading teams, finance, sales and operations. Prior to WP Engine I also worked at a couple of infrastructure hosting companies, Bulletproof and Rackspace.

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

My days start early, scanning my inbox for urgent emails from our Austin HQ, a 16 hour difference, followed by a number of calls with our colleagues over there. After that, I’m typically attending calls/meetings with the local team or working on presentations/reports to make sure the team is well equipped to do their jobs well.

At times I travel a lot to visit customers, partners and prospects, mostly domestically but a couple of times a year to Austin as well. Over 600,000+ sites are powered by WP Engine and it’s my job to ensure our ANZ customers and prospects have a lasting positive relationship with WP Engine.

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

I am always on the road for work, so it’s essential for me to work remotely. My days often start very early because I have calls scheduled with Austin.

To retain some balance I try to leave the office by 5:30PM so I have some time with the family in the evening. I almost always find myself clocking back on after the kids are asleep to finish more work, but I think it’s important to switch off and have that time with them.

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

I think you have to be realistic with your goals. Achieving big goals in a rapidly growing global technology business is unlikely to be compatible with a traditional 9-5 working day, especially when you’re leading a regional team. It’s important to have time when you’re not thinking about work, which for me is on the weekends.

Unlike our American colleagues I tend to take most or all of my annual leave, so I can recharge the batteries regularly bring back that balance. It also gives me a chance to do things I enjoy, for example I just got back from attending an international Futsal tournament in Spain with my son.

5. What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

I’ve always worked hard to avoid unproductive “dead time”, for example driving to work. I live close to the city to minimise commute time, but when I have lived further away I’ve used public transport so I can remain online and productive. I try and use small time slots effectively as well, so if I’m in a lift or queuing for a drink I’ll try and clear an email or two.

Exercise is hard to fit into your week when you’re busy, but it really helps you remain energised. I try and cycle to work when I can because It “kills two birds with one stone”.
Staying super organised with your tasks, and scheduling time for critical items in your calendar also helps you feel in control even when you’re juggling a number of priorities.

All these little things maximise your productivity, so even if you’re working >10 hours a day you can still get a decent amount of time to yourself and to stay healthy.

6. Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Getting Things Done by David Allen and 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey are two great books that help build a framework for staying effective, focused and productive. They help you retain control of your time and priorities which is the best way to avoid burnout and manage stress levels.

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

Organising my time and my tasks.

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

Jeff Bezos has a concept of work life harmony being a “circle” rather than a trade-off or balancing act. This appeals to me given I enjoy my work and my time away from it. I’d be interested in learning more about how he approaches it.

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

You have to enjoy what you do. I find those who say they struggle with work/life balance are often unhappy in their work. You don’t have to “love” what you do, for many people that’s just not practical, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your job every day.

Your day to day tasks may not be stimulating but you can find that in other ways through the people you work with, the value of your company, and supporting the incredible work your teams or customers are working on.

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

Become a Patron!

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.