Catherine Anderson is the Chief Customer Officer of Powershop Australia, Australia’s only electricity retailer to be certified 100% carbon neutral by the government.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I am just returning from five months parental leave to my role of Chief Customer Officer at Powershop Australia. I am really looking forward to getting back into work life, albeit virtually.
I’ve been at Powershop for six years, always in the customer space and have loved expanding my remit from marketing and now into customer service and sales as well.
Prior to Powershop I had been working in Indonesia and Vietnam for five years working for The Coca-Cola Company and in advertising. I’ve always loved working in roles that solve customer problems, that bring new ideas to market and that take a bit of a risk.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Given I’m relatively new to the virtual working world, I’m still navigating that.
In many ways, I’m more suited to the office environment as I really get my energy from constantly speaking to people and dropping over to colleagues’ desks to have a quick chat rather than an official meeting.
For the moment (Melbourne Stage 4 restrictions), my new typical day is my partner and I managing our work hours around looking after our two children who are at home.
My current strategy (which may change) is trying to keep the mornings for video calls that I need to be present in, then the afternoons I swap with my partner and I’m “on” for the kids. In the late afternoons I do a phone call (one that I feel doesn’t need video) while I walk the baby to sleep (and that ticks off exercise too). In the evenings I have time to read through things and do some work.
This is far from my preferred schedule, but trying to find some balance amongst the less than ideal COVID-inflicted conditions.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Thankfully – yes. I began my parental leave in March before working from home became the norm and I’ve returned to an organisation that is 100% remote working. I’ve always enjoyed working from home a day or so a week, but 100% from home is new.
I’m enjoying all the obvious things (no commute, ugg boots), but I’m already missing the face to face interactions. I look forward to a world where choice is returned and I can re-balance a in office vs remote working style.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’ve heard a lot of people say there is no “balance” to “work life balance” and I’m not sure I agree with such a strong statement. I think the key point is that the balance will always change and you have to be very aware that you’re ok with the changes that are happening each time.
If you’re not ok, you need to act. The difficulty arises if you don’t have the opportunity or flexibility to adjust (some circumstances just don’t allow for it). In those cases, you have to find some calm in the “out of balance” as best you can.
I think I constantly hover between being content with the balance and then into misalignment where I have to shift something again.
I’ve been thinking recently that many of us are lucky that we work for organisations that allow for us to shift our balance numerous times in our days/weeks/careers. However, we should all remember that not everyone has this flexibility available to them all the time.
Additionally, the only way I keep any semblance of “balance” is by having great support networks at home – whether it’s my partner, family, daycare. These support networks keep things ticking over so that I can focus on work.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve just begun running again post-baby. I’m using one of the “couch to 5km” apps and I’m really enjoying it. Perhaps it’s just my stage in life, but 30 minutes of quiet time while I’m running, with no one asking questions, is half the charm!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Pre-COVID I really enjoyed podcasts like PIVOT (Scott Galloway in particular), however I’ve found that right now, I need some time away from news-y podcasts.
I do some work with a not-for-profit called Missing Persons Advocacy Network (MPAN)– and they have launched a new podcast exploring the impacts of ambiguous loss on families of long-term missing people.
It’s something that (thankfully) I’ve never dealt with personally, but I’ve found this podcast a chance to get out of my own head and to listen to some stories of others. If anything, it gives me some perspective and reminds me life is very, very precious.
You didn’t ask about movies or music – but I’ve watched Hamilton more times than I care to admit and am working hard to learn all the words.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
AirPods: I’ve found them to be a game changer in elevating my penchant for multi-tasking to a whole new level. I feel guilty but I’ll be honest that a key benefit is that I can be on a call or listening to a podcast / music while I’m susshing the baby to sleep and she doesn’t realise they’re in.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
With so much focus on the healthcare industry at the moment, I’d love to hear from nurses, doctors and other professionals dealing with COVID and how they’re managing the amplified workload and their home life.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I don’t have thoughts to share yet, but I’m thinking about how our work-life balance will shift in a post-COVID world. I believe the benefits of working remotely have become really obvious, but they’ve also made many of us value working “more traditionally.”
I’m pondering how far we’ll shift to remote working vs eventually navigate back to the way things were. This impacts so many decisions and elements of your life, including even where do you live and what do you need at home and nearby. Anyway, this is what I’m pondering at the moment.
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