Brenton Charnley is the Head of Australia at TrueLayer, a global open banking platform founded in 2016 and used by millions of consumers and businesses globally.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
In my first professional role out of university, I worked for KPMG as a Chartered Accountant, initially in corporate tax and later in business advisory for high growth enterprises. I loved working with entrepreneurs and private companies. That role introduced me to the amazing world of start-ups and innovation and I’ve never looked back!
When I left KPMG, I moved into an internal innovation role for a large insurance company and I saw the potential for insurtech to make a big impact. A few years later I was given the amazing opportunity to join the C-Suite at Cover Genius, one Australia’s biggest insurtech success stories.
Since October 2020, I’ve been Head of Australia for TrueLayer which is a global leader in Open Banking. I’m building our local team and product suite to allow our global and Australian clients to leverage the Consumer Data Right and open up finance.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m currently in lockdown in Sydney, so the day usually starts early around 6am with a bike ride, then I walk our dog, grab a coffee and enjoy some outdoor time before settling in for a day of video calls.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, both. TrueLayer has its headquarters in London so all of my interactions with the head office are via Slack, email or video conference. Given the time difference, the video conference is late afternoon or early- to mid-evening for me.
Most of my local team are in Sydney plus a couple in Melbourne. Everyone works flexibly and remotely. We use a WeWork location if we need to have a face-to-face meeting and our weekly team talks are via vidcon.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Life is a continuum and I take a holistic view of how I spend my time. I’m currently leading the local expansion of a tech company and I enjoy that challenge in my work life because I love building things and solving problems. It’s in my DNA.
The fintech ecosystem in Australia is very friendly and collaborative, so I’m fortunate to have a professional network of relationships that can also be a support network.
I find it’s important to be in control of my mental focus, so I turn off notifications for most apps. When I’m able to focus and give the right amount of time, I’ll go and check. My team can always phone or SMS me at any time if there’s something urgent.
I like to be outdoors, even if it’s just in the backyard or on the porch, so sometimes I’ll just pick up the phone to make a call and go outside.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
We got a puppy! So I’ve started walking the dog and I’m enjoying giving him the attention and nurturing that he needs.
I’m a keen road cyclist – have been for years – and there’s a nice social element to cycling. I find that’s a really positive daily habit.
When you don’t have a commute to offer that transition time between work and home, it can be difficult to switch off, so I’ve been using the Calm app to help wind down in the evenings. For example, it has a guided meditation routine and sleep stories. For me, that’s more relaxing than, say, listening to a podcast or watching Netflix.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I really enjoy the a16z podcast which discusses tech and culture trends, news and the future.
One of the best books, in my opinion, is Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike by Phil Knight. It’s the story of Nike and it’s the most awesome story you’ll ever read about a PwC accountant who created a global brand.
I also really like Blitzscaling by Reid Hoffman and The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Yes, a bottle opener!
I find LinkedIn is good for professional connection and knowledge.
I use the Strava app to track my cycling and I do have a lot of cycling gear but I won’t get into that here!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d nominate Richie Porte, the Australian Olympian and champion cyclist.
I think it would be really interesting to be a professional athlete because your body is your work.
I admire elite road cyclists for their physical fitness, strength and endurance plus their mental determination.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m grateful to be a professional working in tech in Australia. Even if I’m stuck in a lockdown, I can get my work done and look after my mental wellbeing, physical health and social connection.
And that’s an immense privilege.
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