Balancing the Grind with Chloë Brault Billy, Head of Strategy at Samsara Eco

Chloë Brault Billy is the Head of Strategy at Samsara Eco, a company that has developed an enzymatic technology that recycles plastics.

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

My background is in strategy consulting and start-ups. I finally found a balance between these two worlds in my current role, and added a piece of meaning on top. I’m heading up strategy for SamsaraEco, a deep tech startup aiming at solving the global plastic issue. It has developed a unique technology of enzymatic recycling that can recycle any plastic, infinitely.

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

I’d like to think every day is different, but really I think my days and weeks are a succession of habits in between some outstanding events. My morning routine is a non-negotiable that gets me started for the day. A bit of writing, sport and meditation, when my baby doesn’t hijack it. A proper sit down breakfast with my husband. And my work day can start.

There are two important things in my work day. The first thing that I do, and the last.

First thing for me is to get concrete work done, with a clear output. I focus on the one task I want to accomplish for the day. 30 minutes to 2 hours. No email, no meetings. As I’m working only 3 days a week, I want to make sure to make substantial progress every day. So I make daily touch points with team leaders to force me into thinking prior ‘what’s something new I’m bringing on the table today?’.

The last thing I do in my day is essential to me, as it is both what sets my mood for the night, and what will influence my motivation the next morning. I take time to wrap up the day and plan for the next.

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

I’m completely remote for now. I find this flexibility amazing to be fully in control of my rhythm. It works for everyone: we have touchpoints as often as we need it, pinging each other as if we were in person, but the disruptions are less: everyone responds when they are available, in their best timeframe.

I met the team for the first time 3 months after getting started, and I have to say I got so much out of it that it made me look forward to having our flexible co-working space set up in Sydney. 

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

My ideal is to live a life where I’m making no difference between work and personal times. This means finding fulfilment and freedom in activities that allow me to sustain my lifestyle.

Fulfilment may link to some extent to finding meaning in what I do. Yet what really matters day after day is the type of activities I do.

So I have organised my week to maximise the number of activities that energise me, and minimise the one that takes energy away from me.

My current week is 3 days work, 1 day with my baby, 1 day for personal creative projects. When working, I keep for the end of the day the tasks that are less urgent but energise me, so it doesn’t feel like working and I am happy extending my day by a few hours.

Freedom. I don’t believe in absolute freedom. Constraints are everywhere, and they can be as stimulating as frustrating. From constraints comes more creativity.

So to me it’s all about finding the right balance between constraints and freedom. At work, and at home. At work, it means respecting my own rhythm. Feeling free to go out for a walk during the day or playing with my baby after daycare, as long as I deliver what I committed to. This means flexibility from my employer. And maybe the hardest of all, acceptance from myself. Recognising that sometimes, less is better.

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

The past 12 months have seen many changes in my life, having a baby, developing a portfolio of artworks (painting and writing) and starting a new job. I have tried to keep the routines I had, and I actually added some new ones to do more in less time.

For example, I started making weekly plans to progress on my personal goals and hold me accountable for my writing. This allowed me to make better use of my days off work (e.g. having clear painting and writing goals) and to move me faster into actions (e.g. I’m organising the first exhibition of my artwork).

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

Transurfing, by Vadim Zealand. A beautiful and abstract way of seeing our life potential and reclaiming control of our journey.

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

The only tech I keep wherever I go are Kindle for reading, and Evernote for writing. Keeping a daily journal helps me reflect and process events in my life. It’s like having a physical repository where I can dump my thoughts before they saturate my mind.

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

Anyone who is working less than average and being fulfilled in their life.

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

Whenever I feel I should work more, or push a bit further a piece of research just because I have been educated to bring things to their very end, I remember what so many generations reported before us. No one on their deathbed wished they had spent more time at work. In the end, the only thing we leave behind is the love we created.

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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.