CEOs / HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Rebecca Houghton, CEO of Bold HR

Rebecca Houghton is the CEO of Bold HR, where she works as a coach, facilitator and advisor, working with a range of medium-large businesses experiencing change.

This conversation is sponsored by graphic design platform Canva. Empowering millions of people around the world to design.

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

I’ve been in Talent all my working life, and was most recently a senior HR executive with Australia Post for several years.

This gave me a headstart on what it means to deliver HR solutions that work for a business in disruption. Because of my ability for impact, my remit was pretty broad, from Talent Acquisition & Onboarding, Internal Careers & Workforce Reskilling, People Change & People Experience and I led the flagship program Post People 1st.

Now, I help HR Leaders to strategically respond to disruption with confidence – I’m a coach and thought partner who’s been there and knows what assumptions need challenging.

I also know what’s viable in a complex environment and how to make the biggest impact. Partnering with me makes all the difference to HR leaders under immense pressure to do business differently.

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

I spend my time coaching and facilitating, so my day will be a mix of zoom calls, session or content design, and delivering workshops. It’s a fantastic mix, and I love it!

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

I work mainly from home, which means I get to hang out with my 2 kids a lot more. I hadn’t realised how epic they were until I gave up the 8-8 office routine and actually spent some time with them! I’ve also reconnected with my love of exercise, so getting more of that into my life has been a treat.

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

Balance is a pretty important word for me. As a thought partner, it’s pretty crucial that I give myself time to think, as well as connect and deliver.

So my typical week will have a dedicated day for each of those activities and then two days to mix it up. I’m lucky that I enjoy all three parts of my job, and I only get off-balance when I’m skewing too much in one direction, so managing the balance carefully is quite key for me.

I need to balance my thinking, connecting and delivering time because I’m an ambivert. I need pretty equal amounts of social and alone time.

I’m also strong in both strategy and implementation, so I need to balance my thinking and my delivering time to make sure I don’t become too academic or too thoughtlessly action-oriented (if that makes sense).

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 don’t do well with routine, so I tend not to have a great answer for this, but the one thing that I’ve developed over the years is a daily focus. Some people might call it reflection, or even meditation.

I’m not sure what it is – but it’s literally five minutes of stand-still focus which keeps my mind clear of all the background noise that usually gets in the way of success.

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

Millions! I love a book, I love reading history, I’m always surprised at how much clearer many of my social and behavioural questions become when I look at them through the lens of history.

We’ve face significant disruption in our long and varies histories, and on balance we’ve responded and adapted, but not without challenge. There’s so much to learn from how we handled change in the past – and how we handle it now and into the future is the focus of my practice, so I find it fascinating.

What am I reading now? Traction: The Neuroscience of Leadership and Performance by Kristen Hansen about how the brain works. I’m an avid follower of the neuroleadership movement, and she lays down some brilliant groundwork for that.

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

Intent. That’s what helps you focus and means you measure progress, which gives me a massive sense of satisfaction. Without intent you’re meander through your day – which is great if your intent was to have a meandering day, but otherwise, not so much!

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

The Obamas. They seem to have it all – and not without its challenges – and I’d love to know how they make it all work, and when it doesn’t, why not.

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

Aren’t we lucky to even be having this conversation about work-life balance? Stop for a moment and congratulate yourself on the immense privilege it is to be able to contemplate such a thing instead of where the next meal will come from, or if you’ll be safe today.

I know I’m one of the incredibly lucky ones on this planet, and I’m thankful for it every day. So what I think I’m saying is: retain your perspective, and appreciate what you have.


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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.