Candy Ko is the co-founder & CEO at EduMatch, a platform with a mission to make quality education accessible for South East Asian students.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Prior to EduMatch, I was in marketing for a number of years between large corporations, bootstrapped to funded startups.
I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of solving old problems through new lenses, so I’ve been in a number of industries across hospitality, property, healthcare, fintech and now edtech.
Despite forgoing the traditional schooling pathway, I completed short courses to complement my career and in 2017, decided to put the nuts and bolts to the work experience and pursued a Master of Marketing degree, graduating last year from Griffith University.
In my final year of studies, I contemplated pursuing a higher research degree on a topic with social impact, and after some twists and turns co-founded EduMatch, an e-learning platform for South East Asian students to have access to quality education.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I get up at 7:30am, prepare and take my son to school, then I’m back home for half an hour of quiet time.
Mornings and late evenings are my prime time for deep work, so I have a quick catch-up with my co-founder, check emails, and then onto my priority list. This varies daily as we’re at the early stage of building the business. A recent work day involved writing a job listing, a product meeting, a strategy meeting and then working on output from the meetings.
As a parent, I juggle between work and family so no two days are the same. Some days I sign off at 2pm to take my son to an after school activity, come back to catch up in the late evening, or otherwise try to finish by 6pm if I don’t sneak off into the study room after he goes to bed!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, my co-founder, Diep, and I work remotely. I catch up with her in person sometimes as I find it works well for collaborative tasks. Working from home has allowed me to spend less time commuting and more time creating habits that work better mentally and physically.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance for me means being able to make choices. Because there’s only so many hours every week, I’ve learnt that it’s about picking a few things that you value most and want to be good at, then making a commitment to the routine you design. My work is my life as I love what I do so it’s a constant, but I make sure I block out time for family and personal goals.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I started playing volleyball again as I was out of routine from COVID last year. Since working from home, I’ve been taking breaks in the afternoon where I’d take my dog for walks or sit in the sun to read.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I love a mix of non-fiction and fiction books, so I’m always in between a few at the same time.
For non-fiction, I recently read a book called Business of Belonging by David Spinks which is about building a community that drives measurable business value.
For fiction, my all time favourite is The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, beautifully written and holds life lessons that ironically goes back to what work-life balance can mean for different people!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Slack, Notion, my MacBook, a notebook and a good pen.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Jacinda Ardern, it’s never easy juggling work and family let alone with her level of responsibility but she does it with so much grit.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Work-life balance can mean something entirely different from one person to the next, it’s certainly changed from my 20s to 30s. I think the most important things are to look after yourself mentally and physically, be really passionate about what you choose to do, surround yourself with people who love you for who you are, and the rest will fall into place.
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