CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Carrie-Ann Leeson, CEO of Lifeline ACT & Beacon Group

Carrie-Ann Leeson is the CEO of Lifeline ACT & Beacon Group, two mental health organisations established to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness and suicide. 

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

I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and developed a love for creating purposeful solutions to leave situations and people better than we find them.

I started working as soon as I was legally able to and have been fortunate to have worked alongside, and learned from, some incredible people. Seeking out roles where passion meets purpose has been a key determinant in what I do workwise in volunteer roles.

I am currently the CEO of Lifeline Canberra and Beacon Group, two mental health organisations established to promote mental wellbeing and prevent mental illness and suicide. I am also currently serving on a few boards, both in the business sector and the community sector.

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

The beauty of my role at Lifeline is that no two days are the same. My position is responsible for translating the strategic vision for the organisation into operational outcomes and this involves tapping into and challenging many facets of my personality and skill set.

I love working at the coalface, in the crisis support centre in Canberra, as well as leading our advocacy, community, media, operational and cultural objectives. This often has me working unusual hours in and around my children and social activities.

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

My role does allow for remote working, however it is not ideal to work from home. This is due to the fact that the content that we deal with on a day to day basis is confronting. In the office I have the tools and a protective environment that helps to shield me mentally from risks and vicarious trauma.

When I am at home I let my guard down, it is my sanctuary, with my children and that is not something I can see interacting well with the content at work. It takes discipline, and I do work from home, to ensure that the work I am conducting at home is of an operational (and not crisis) nature.

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

I don’t view my life as a balance between these two things. I believe that, in doing what I love, I have never worked a day in my life. I endeavour to find that place where passion meets purpose and I give it 100%.

It doesn’t matter what I am doing on any given day, I see the gift and am grateful for the ability or opportunity. That involves my children, my family, my friends and colleagues (sometimes all at the same time / event).

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

One element of my life that stopped was travel. My entire family (children excluded) live overseas. I am therefore no stranger to planes and new places as I love exploring the world with friends and family. I intend to get back into this as soon as it is safe enough to do so.

I have developed new routines which I will work hard to maintain. One example being to enjoy my home and neighbourhood more. Another being to hold walking meetings, where you discuss business on the move and achieve two great outcomes at the same time.

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

With little ones I am not at a stage where reading for leisure can occur J I limit media and social media as a strategy to maintain my wellbeing and resilience and therefore am only exposed to my musical playlists. These help me to focus and alleviate the day’s stressors. Music has the most incredible impact on our sense of wellness.

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

I’d imagine most people would be interested in business leaders, millionaires who live their brand. I think I would be most interested in hearing from someone whose role is entwined in how they live.

Someone like the Queen for example. If anyone would be able to articulate where they end and their role begins it would be her, and I think the Queen would have some incredible stories of humanity, philosophies on resilience, sticking to it, and finding the joy in every day.

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

I am a firm believer in the fact that a life of substance, meaning and joy is not the absence of pain or the unpleasant. You need one to appreciate the other. Finding the joy, the gift and the lesson in the everyday is what builds resilience and help us to be #unstoppable.

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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.