Balancing the Grind with Cheryl Hayman, ASX Non-Executive Director

Cheryl Hayman is an ASX Non-Executive Director, who is currently on the boards of Shriro Holdings, HGL, Chartered Accountants Australia and NZ, and more.

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

I’m a c-suite marketing executive who has transitioned into the boardroom as a non-executive director with listed, unlisted and non-profit organisations.

I’m currently on the boards of Shriro Holdings, HGL, Chartered Accountants Australia and NZ, Darlinghurst Theatre Company and Peer Support Australia. I’m also on the Digital Experts Advisory Committee, part of the Prime Minister’s Digital Technology Taskforce. 

In my marketing career I specialised in retail and FMCG, working with George Weston Foods, Yum! Restaurants and Unilever in roles where I delivered significant growth and developed and launched new products here and overseas.

My background as a senior marketer is considered ‘non-traditional’ in a boardroom setting, where my colleagues are typically past-CEOs, CFOs or accountants. But I use my marketing experience and whole-of-business thinking to help companies that want to grow, innovate, digitise and transform how they operate with the customer front of mind. 

I’m also a passionate mentor to women.

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

I wake up, check LinkedIn and read some articles. I comment on and share anything of interest to me. Then I’m up for pilates or a walk. After that, my days are usually peppered with things to do for the many boards I’m on.

Some days can be really busy and others can be more relaxed. I can be reading or preparing for meetings, completing a specific role for a Board or committee I’m on (I’m the Remuneration & Nominations Committee Chair for two of my Boards) or going to meetings. 

Usually I’ll meet someone I’m mentoring over a coffee locally or catch up with a work colleague in town. If I have some free time, I’ll catch up with a friend or grab a bite with my husband.  

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

Yes it does, it always has and I love it. It fits well with my life. I have a home office or I’ll work from one of the many cafes in Balmain (where I live) or the city if I’m between meetings. I also attend regular in-person meetings or events. They’ve been mostly remote over the past year, but they’re becoming more frequent now. 

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

I think work-life balance is defined personally. For me it’s about juggling multiple things I love to work on. I have a huge capacity to do a lot fast and I enjoy being busy. My work as a director and mentor is fulfilling and challenging, but I also make time for my friends and I love trying new restaurants or going to the theatre.

I am usually busy with Board work, colleague catch ups, writing blogs and reading. I also love professional learning, so I get great enjoyment from learning about new products, businesses and people doing great things. 

I’ll check in on my daughters, aged 19 and 24. They don’t need constant care as they did when they were younger and at school, but we’re close and I love to hear what’s happening for them.

So balance for me is to be really busy but able to be agile and flexible to fit the private, personal and professional into my day at times that suit me.

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

I’ve recently decided to write a monthly blog. I want to share with other people, especially women, about how I made the transition into the boardroom so they can too.

I’m very happy with the boardroom career I’ve developed to date, but I have more to give and I want people to know that. I’m being more proactive on LinkedIn and I’m making specific reach outs to the chairs and directors of businesses where I believe I can add value. Especially for companies that are utilising technology, new thinking and want to digitise to achieve transformational growth.

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

I love NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz. I also regularly listen to Take on Board by Helga Svendsen, as well as the Women on Boards podcast and the AICD’s Board Level podcast series. They help me stay informed about the key issues and trends Australian Boards are managing today.

In my own time, I read crime novels as I love a great mystery and as a young girl I wanted to be a detective.

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

My iPad comes everywhere with me. I jump on and off it constantly. I also love my AirPods, they’re so freeing and easy to use. I’m a visual person, so I enjoy Instagram and use it regularly. 

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

Coca-Cola Amatil chairman and ANZ Bank non-executive director (among other positions), Ilana Atlas AO.

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

Don’t be hard on yourself! Your version of life doesn’t have to be the same as anybody else’s. I like the term “a flexible life” because it suggests our lives can vary daily and flexibility allows us to find a balance that suits us. Do what makes you happy because then it never feels like you’re giving anything up. I see being flexible and having a different day every day as something very positive.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.