CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Ben Hutt, CEO & Managing Director at Evergen

Ben Hutt is the CEO & Managing Director at Evergen, a joint venture between AMP Capital and CSIRO, to support the enablement of a more distributed and decentralised energy system in Australia and overseas.

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

I’ve always believed that “people make the world go around”. My career has been split almost equally now between fixing problems in large companies, and building and scaling startups.

Super powers seem to be inspiring amazing people to do impossible things, and seeing the solution to really complex problems. Have founded several companies, listed one on the ASX (very educational), and have been the CEO / MD of Evergen for almost 18 months.

We’re a software business focused on accelerating the transition to renewables by optimising the performance of batteries and orchestrating large fleets of batteries in virtual power plants. Our mission is to destroy a coal fired power station in each of 10 countries in the next 3-5 years.

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

  • Wake at 5am. Make fresh celery juice and strong black coffee.
  • Crossfit style gym from 6-7am.
  • Home for healthy breakfast, brief journal/meditation.
  • Time blocked out (i.e. no meetings) between 8-10am to allow me to get on top of what I need to do or need others to do.
  • Day’s usually a blend of external meetings and standing internal meetings (e.g. all hands standups on Monday & Friday, Leadership meetings daily at 11.30)
  • Lunch – usually spare portion of previous days’ dinner.
  • Afternoon – external meetings 2-4pm then UK & Europe focused meetings 4-5/6pm.
  • From 6-7pm I aim to have a walk by the ocean (lucky I live on the beach), then evening meal with a friend or my three daughters.
  • In bed with a book between 8-30 & 9pm.

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

Yes, I’m lucky. As a tech business we’ve always been pretty flexible but the COVID-19 period this year has really enabled us all to demonstrate that productivity can be just as high (if not higher) when we are all at home.

We have offices in Sydney and Newcastle now, and anyone in the team is welcome to go there whenever suits them.

For me, I’ll choose my days at home or in the office based on what I need to accomplish or who I need to work through something with. Whiteboard sessions in person still beneficial sometimes.

Sometimes quiet time at home is the most effective use of a day. Culturally we have some routines (quarterly goals, OKRs, weekly sprints, weekly wins and stand ups) designed to keep us all rolling together. I will speak to each of my team or people I’m working on initiatives with daily.

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

I think it’s a mistake to try and separate work and life (at least in my chosen life as an entrepreneur and company builder).

If you work 9-5, sure, they’re separate, but in what I do there’s often little separation. I’ve chosen to embrace this and do lots of work, but also do lots of life. By being present and focused on the current moment, I believe you can maximise the value of every activity or block of time.

Five years ago work consumed life. Now I do both on my own terms and recognise that I should be able to block time out for me, for being healthy, for not being on my phone. I know that if I don’t do this I am less useful to my team.

I think experience teaches you that it’s not just how much of something you do that matters, its really how well you do the things you do. I believe in being really focused, and doing the things that really matter to 100%, and that includes staying sane and healthy.

Meditation, exercise, healthy food, all super important.

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

I’ve improved my diet and significantly reduced my consumption of alcohol, dairy, and flour. I’ve started going to a Crossfit gym religiously every day, first thing in the morning, and I’ve begun an evening walk with an audiobook (or friend).

I stopped domestic travel in January (before COVID) with a view to having more productive time.

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

Absolutely – favourite podcast is “Acquired” and highly recommend the Acquired LP Show (well worth the $100 per annum).

Current favourite books – Atomic Habits – get 1% better every day. Lifelong favourites – The Old Man and the Sea and Man’s Search for Meaning.

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

It’s a cliche but I’d really struggle without my iPhone and AirPod Pros. Instapaper is good for news, and my go-to publication is the Economist. At work Google Apps and Asana absolutely essential.

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

Albert Einstein.

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

Lets assume we only have one life. We should use it wisely. Have impact where we can. Be kind to ourselves and others, and really try and enjoy the ride.

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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.