Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Sharon Melamed, Managing Director of Matchboard

Sharon Melamed is the Managing Director of Matchboard, a business matchmaking platform helping users find suppliers online.

Named by Optus as Australia’s 2018 “Business of the Year”, and by Westpac as 1 of Australia’s top “200 Businesses of Tomorrow” (2017).

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

I’m the Founder of an online business matchmaking platform called Matchboard. Think of an online dating site but for B2B!

I jumped ship from a big corporate role 7 years ago to pursue my entrepreneurial dream, but learnt a lot along the way, living and working in 5 countries. New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and Tel Aviv were amazing career opportunities, but now I’m firmly settled back in my hometown, Sydney.

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

From a work perspective, every day is different, as I’m overseeing the matching of buyers and suppliers across all sorts of services. Take yesterday – we matched a small business looking for a digital content writer, a government agency seeking a cloud contact centre solution, and a big company after a customer experience consultant.

I get a thrill every time we make a match! In the morning, I went for a swim. Under the water, with no distraction, I find incredible moments of business clarity. But the truth is, as much as I love my business, I can’t wait for 4pm when my kids come home from school. I’m home nearly every day for that.

Between 4pm and 9pm I’m hopping between homework help, housework and – when my teens don’t need or want me – work emails. I always finish the day with an online scrabble game (I was a Scrabble champion in my younger years), and time with my husband.

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

The beauty of running an online business with a virtual workforce is that you can really be anywhere. I choose to work from home half the week.

The rest of the time I’m out meeting with buyers, suppliers and partners. I schedule work stuff around my family commitments. In corporate, it was the other way around, and that really got to me.

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

I think it’s important to acknowledge your priorities in life and stick to them – the business world offers so many temptations which can suck you in before you know it! Managing a big workload requires physical and mental energy, so allocate time to look after yourself in both those areas.

I had a rude shock several years ago with the sudden onset of severe RSI – I couldn’t even lift a plate and had to use speech recognition software to type. Most likely it was brought on by the totally non-ergonomic setup I had. Take ergonomics seriously as it can be a productivity killer.

Here are some tips I published: Office Ergonomics: top 10 tips.

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

I have a hard time separating work and life. It’s all a big blur for me. My goal is to have enough time to look after my health and my relationships, and then cram as much as possible into the time left over.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Having a supportive partner is key for me. Sometimes my husband will tell me to hand in my phone if I’m overdoing it with work emails, and on the flip side, I’ll tell him to hand in the TV headsets if I’m not getting enough attention! We keep each other in check!

Since I started my entrepreneurial journey 7 years ago, I’ve also involved my kids in the business, which really helps keep the balance at home. They’ve “bought in” and help out, whether it’s my daughter designing a PowerPoint or video with me, or my son entering some data in Excel. Success to me is partly about setting a great role model for my kids, and I like to think I’ve done that.

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

The first book I read when I started my business was The Lean Startup by Eric Ries – it’s still a bible for founders.

Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins by world chess champion Garry Kasparov is an amazing book about the future of the human-machine relationship, something we all need to grapple with.

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

Scheduling! If it’s not in the calendar, it doesn’t happen.

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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.