Chris Russell is the Managing Director, Australia & New Zealand at Tealium, a customer data hub and enterprise tag management company based in San Diego, California.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
During my career I’ve spent a lot of working with enterprises across APAC advising on matters of cyber security, governance and risk and other infrastructure projects predominantly around traditional IT architecture.
I have held various leadership roles across numerous global startup SaaS organisations that have become highly disruptive and innovative in their respective industry niche.
Having spent a lot of time working with CIO’s and CISO’s I felt compelled to take my skills and experience to Tealium where we are focused on capabilities that more directly influence the strategic vision and financial metrics of customer acquisition and retention.
The past 1.5 years at Tealium has been very rewarding. We work with many of Australia’s leading brands across retail, publishing, banking and online platforms or marketplaces.
We are very strategic as a platform and partner and we bring a lot of expertise and knowledge to our customers, helping them transform digitally, which especially in the current pandemic landscape is vital to their long term success.
I feel like we are doing our part to help our local economy by keeping people in jobs and helping the organisations that are important to our sustained economic growth, remain viable and deliver exceptional experiences to their customers, both online and offline.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I am responsible for the growth and retention of our customer base across Australia and New Zealand, and I do this with a very customer-centric approach and philosophy.
I hold my team responsible for ensuring our customers receive a seamless, personalised experience on our platform, to enable them to achieve their company vision and goals. It is important that every activity we undertake is designed to help our user base continually grow and ensure they obtain incremental value from our platform and our expertise.
We have a strong culture of excellence at Tealium and I’m heavily focused on the team’s personal development and professionalism, helping make sure they have the right environment to flourish.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working?
Yes, we offer a flexible and remote working model at Tealium as the majority of our colleagues are really enjoying working from home during COVID-19.
This has led us to implement a hot desking environment as well as explore more events and activities we can do in the office to bring the team together when they choose to come in (for example we added a ping pong table to get the creative juices flowing).
We’ve also really upped our virtual team building events, for example we hosted a virtual escape room recently.
I’ve seen a whole new creative side to my team during the pandemic, experimenting with virtual lunch and learns, vodcasts and so on – we even sent a gourmet cheese platter and a bottle of wine to some of our key clients and bonded over discussion about business and the industry one night.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
COVID-19 has made many of us realise that we can have a better work-life balance. We now have more time for our families, to help out with the school drop off and to play sports with the kids.
Not only is it invaluable to our mental health and wellbeing, it’s also increased productivity in many ways. To me work-life balance means making time for a yoga session in the morning, playing my guitar in the evenings and spending as much time with the family as possible.
Like many parents during COVID-19, it’s definitely been a juggling act. If I need silence, I hang with the cockatoos and lorikeets on our balcony and listen to music or sneak to the bedroom for some me time while the kids are entertaining themselves in the playroom.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
The 9-to-5 workday doesn’t exist anymore as many of us are working all kinds of hours, especially as a parent.
COVID-19 has led to a fundamental shift to how we live our lives – we’re having to make decisions about work-life balance and it’s given us a deeper interest and appreciation of activities that make us happy during and outside work.
For me I’ve really got into my home cooking and have had the time to get the cookbook out and experiment with different dishes for the kids. I’ve also had more time to connect with people, both personally and professionally, and even reconnected with people from my past. I’m keen to continue these habits post-COVID-19.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Having a better work-life balance has allowed me time to appreciate new books and podcasts. I recently downloaded Blinkist, the book-summarising subscription service that is the perfect short cut for reading when you are time poor like me.
Audible is another big one that helps me unwind. In terms of my favourite books at the moment, as a team, we’re currently reading Financial Intelligence: A Manager’s Guide to Knowing What the Numbers Really Mean.
It’s helping us speak CFO which is invaluable in a tech company like us, especially in fostering positive customer experiences and having strategic financial conversations with clients.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Our world is filled with so many nifty gadgets and one that comes to mind is the personalisation of online shopping and social media these days.
I recently made an impulse purchase for a chin up bar via social which has been super handy to have at home during this time. In many ways, my family and I have gone back to basics and revisited some traditional activities like arts & crafts and boardgames.
We’ve really got into colouring in books, drawing and playing scrabble, along with doing science, art and engineering projects together with the kids on the weekends.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
David Attenborough. How he combines travel with a somewhat normal routine and leisure amazes me. I am passionate about the environment and especially with what’s happening with COVID-19, it has really shed a light on human practices that can do more harm than good.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for organisations to take a more considered approach to how they do business and that includes looking at more flexible and remote working strategies.
People are prioritising work-life balance now more than ever and it’s now having an effect on where we choose to work. Businesses must adapt now to attract good talent.
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