Balancing the Grind with Ben Owen, Chief Strategy Officer at RAA

Ben Owen is the Chief Strategy Officer at RAA, a South Australian automobile club who provides a range of member services.

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

Let’s flip the question. My current role is Chief Strategy Officer (CSO) and General Manager of Home and Energy at RAA. As CSO my role involves identifying growth opportunities, analysing market trends, and constantly evaluating the competitive landscape.

I am directly accountable for our Data Research, Analytics, Innovation and Group Strategy functions, and work with our Board, CEO and Executive on establishing our purpose, vision, and critical goals, linking to where we play, how we win and developing the organisational capability we need to achieve our strategy execution.  

In addition to my strategic responsibilities, I am responsible for overseeing our Home and Energy business. This involves supporting our respective leaders on their day-to-day operations with a strong focus on executing our growth strategy.

Critical success factors for my role are the ability to have diverse strategic thinking, financial acumen, influencing capability and strong leadership skills – with close to 20 years in financial services working for two of Australia’s largest banks, I have been fortunate to learn from excellent leaders and mentors; I leverage those insights and lessons daily. 

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

My role is multifaceted, combined with the fact that we have three daughters all under the age of ten, and an entrepreneurial wife involved in multiple businesses – no one day is the same, which I love.

However, I try to deliver some consistency and I have an element of operating discipline in my day at work. My role as CSO involves strategic planning, business development, performance monitoring, communication, and collaboration, focusing on delivering our innovation program, talent management and constantly monitoring the external environment.

As busy as life is, I try to find time to be with my kids, perform some fitness and unwind with my wife by watching a streaming TV series. 

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

There is no secret here, it’s a constant prioritisation shuffle. For me it is about setting my priorities and aligning my daily focus accordingly. It’s a mix of personal priorities, family focus – maintaining a positive relationship with my daughters and wife.

Work is a passion, there are always challenging days, but I am positively engaged with work, for me that’s about delivering on our strategy. The main insight I can see from the world’s best CSOs is that they are selflessly dedicated to help the CEO and Executive be successful. Ultimately my role is to help them shine and therefore I spend time building relationships and understanding.

Breaking the routine with something powerful, join Ben at _SOUTHSTART, March 8-10, 2023 for an incomparable three-day event that celebrates the Australian spirit of innovation.


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

I have started to focus on waking earlier to maximise the morning – take some time to enjoy my double shot latte and started to train earlier in the gym. It is a work in progress. But I must say it is getting easy and I am starting to make some inroads. I am also focused on ensuring that I take some time to connect differently with those close to me. 

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

I am generally obsessed with Audible, and my library is diverse – from the Internet of Things by Samuel Greengard to Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey and everything in between. I don’t mind audible fiction with my favourite Audible book being The Orchard with Eric Bana. Favourite podcasts change all the time. I am currently into Future Cities which covers everything from Sustainability, Energy, Innovation, to the Circular Economy. I also like Bloomberg, The Economist, WSJ, and NY Times channels – while I read and listen to the New Yorker and Conversations.  

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

I think it would be Ryan Serhant. I admire how he works so hard in a competitive field, manages an effective team, and seems to balance it with a focus on personal goals and family commitment. Plus, he makes me laugh, he seems to have a pretty good time and from what I know about him – he makes others feel good when they are around him.  

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

Take time for yourself, go with the flow and be adaptable. Work life balance is like strategy, it is fine to have a plan and direction, but the landscape is constantly changing, just like your day changes – trying to oppose the flow can probably add more stress then is needed.  

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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.