Balancing the Grind with Carly Watterson, Managing Director of MU Australia

Carly Watterson is the Managing Director of MU Australia, an e-store specialising in skincare, body care, bath products and home and personal fragrance.

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

My current role is as Managing Director for MU Australia. Previous to that I worked as a non ferrous metals trader in Hong Kong.

After September 11 I was retrenched and when unable to secure a role in a similar business I decided to start my own. After living in Asia, I noticed there were many brands that weren’t available in the Australian market and so I decided to import them here.

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

My work day involves balancing being a single mum to my teenage boy with meeting the demands of the business. I hit the ground running at 5:50am, check emails from overnight and address anything that can be dealt with before US suppliers close for the day.

Then it is time for school drop off and into the office to try and achieve as much during the day, so that I am not working late into the evening.

This isn’t always possible as many of our suppliers are based in Europe or the US, so a late night or early conference call isn’t uncommon. I have a really strong and supportive team who are able to work independently, which is a blessing.

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

My current role does allow for some level of flexibility. I will always try to step out of the business and work remotely on upcoming projects, so as to not get distracted in the day to day operations.

I also try to allow flexibility for our staff, so they can attend events for their children and we work as a team to ensure that no one misses out on a sporting day or music concert. Having that balance to really ensure family is a priority is really important to me. 

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

For me, work-life balance is something I am always thinking about, but know I won’t necessarily achieve as a finite state. Rather it is something I will always work towards, or factor in.

For me it is about making considered choices with my time, prioritising activities or events that work well for both myself and my son and just saying ‘no’ when it doesn’t work (instead of trying to make something “fit”). 

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

I have started doing pilates once or twice a week. I will always try and do some type of exercise after work, even if it is just for half an hour to close out my day.

I will also read at night before I go to sleep, as opposed to watching TV or scrolling through social media. It really is so much more relaxing for me and helps me switch off much easier. 

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

I can’t recommend The Talent Code by Danielle Coyle more highly – I found it so fascinating and whilst it’s not exactly a light read, some of the insights have really stuck with me.

Being in the business of beauty, I can’t go by the Gloss Etc newsletter. It’s a no nonsense guide to beauty, so I never miss an issue. 

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

I can’t live without my iPhone, my son’s school app and Excel spreadsheets. They each have their place in keeping my days moving like a well-oiled machine. 

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

Amal Clooney – for her huge career success and being a mum to twins!

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

I don’t see what I do as traditional work, because I genuinely love what I do. However, I do sometimes feel that I am not giving enough to both the business and to being a mum – it is a constant balancing act.

Someone reminded me the other day that I have three summers left until my son turns 18. This really hit home, as he has grown up in the office and has a few “second” mums, thanks to the amazing tribe of people around us.

With that, I am trying to focus on getting as much done during working hours, so that I can spend quality time with him at home. I guess what I really want to communicate is this – take stock of those things that are truly valuable to you, spend time with those that you love and even when making work a priority (whether because you love it, or need it), finding that balance is paramount.  

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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.