Daniel Lai is the CEO of archTIS, a Canberra-based cybersecurity firm that has developed a platform (Kojensi) for sharing and collaborating on sensitive or classified information.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in the wine industry, then the music industry. I finally shifted to public service looking after IP Industries including software, books, music and games, as well as parallel imports.
I shifted to ICT Security as the inaugural Director of ICT Security for Customs, where I managed a number of incidents. I left and went to the private sector in CA software. It was my passion for security that led me to start archTIS with two other colleagues. I started as COO in 2006 and CEO in 2016.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday at archTIS?
My regular work day involves emails, coffee, exercise, tasks, meetings, more coffee, stand-up with the crew, cooking, emails, and finally time-out.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, the whole company has flexible work hours, from home and the office. We treat the team as adults and respect. We all need to balance our lives.
For me, I like the office and probably only work from home when I need to get my head in the zone. Otherwise my role is really one of facilitation and I like the buzz of people around me.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Near death experiences always help you prioritise your life. Better ‘work to live’ not ‘live to work’ and sport for me does that. I exercise a lot and coach rugby.
I cook and most recently my partner has got me into gardening. Most importantly, you need to have people in your life that you have meaningful relationships with, socially and at work.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Working from home has been the biggest one. Not because we didn’t have it as a policy at work, just because I hadn’t done it until Covid-19.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Conversations with Richard Fidler at ABC (Podcast), Hardcore History with Dan Carlin (podcast), Radical Candor by Kim Scott (book).
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My phone seems to be the most important gadget. A phone, network, music, distraction, internet, map. Pretty amazing.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
My partner, her opinion is probably the most honest and important one I need to understand
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Build a team, trust them and let them be accountable and responsible, be part of the team not the boss. You will be amazed what can happen. Prioritise the things that balance you. I have blocked out time in my week. Time to exercise. When meetings come up I know the team can manage it, they know I’m out and if they need me we work round it. I also expect them to do the same.
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