CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with David Davies, Co-Founder & CEO of AgUnity

David Davies is the Global Agripreneur of the Year 2018 for his work as CEO of AgUnity and helping lift low-income farmers out of poverty.

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

I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm in outback South Australia, before spending most of my career working in technology for global investment banks. But before all this, I travelled through Africa with UNESCO recording a documentary series where I saw firsthand how poverty and exclusion were powerful forces keeping many communities in cycles of bare subsistence.

After travelling to Japan and Singapore where I founded two companies that were acquired, this led me to start AgUnity and eventually, AgriUT.

Apart from growing up on a farm in rural Australia, I feel I have led a unique life having the opportunity to travel through West Africa, seeing extreme poverty as well as challenges with which rural communities in Africa face every day.

In my current role as CEO of AgUnity and co-founder of AgriUT, I have had the amazing opportunity to travel to countries worldwide to meet with farmers and their communities and see how each culture has a unique approach to both farming but also creating social connection and trust.

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

This is a loaded question! My days aren’t your typical workday. I have a daughter who is special needs and non-verbal and that takes a lot of time out of my day. My wife is my best teammate and we both structure our schedules around my daughters needs as well as my sons needs.

My daughter needs to be carefully cared for outside of school, so we have various activities we plan for her as well as plan for my son, so he doesn’t miss out on interests he has. Even though I typically have a fairly full work schedule each day, I make sure that my day is structured around my kids, I will always put them first and schedule work around what’s left in the workday.

Other than that, I typically have 10 tasks in priority that I balance through my calendar. Working for a startup that has team members all around the globe and projects in different time zones means my day doesn’t always end at 5pm. Some days I have pitches or meetings anywhere from 11pm to 2am which always keeps things interesting.

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

Having a special needs daughter and trying to run a startup can be quite the challenge and almost impossible to be honest. When I do get a break, whether it be a holiday or school holiday, it is still structured around my kids.

When there are school holidays, my wife and I have a holiday from the holiday. We call it “Survival Day”. This is where we get a day to ourselves, kid free and obligation free. Other work-life balance I keep in my regular schedule is participating in cricket games every two weeks and training with my son as something we can do together. 

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

One thing that I have started and stopped at the same time is avoiding Facebook when possible. It is difficult to get rid of it completely, but I have started to make an effort to stop social media. I believe social media is very toxic and it would be in your best interest and one of the most positive things you could do for yourself. 

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

For all my current topics, I check Dr. John Campbell’s YouTube channel for current news and what’s going on in the world and I believe it is worth watching religiously. 

One of my favourite books everyone should read is called Spillover by David Quammen. If you want to get perspective and understanding on major factors that have influenced the world, this book is for you.

Another good read for anyone working for a company that works in different countries and with different cultures is a book called Cultures and Organizations by Geert Hofstede. This book explains how cultures react to different situations and how to cope with conflicts. 

I recommend checking out the TV show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. He recaps the last week’s news, politics and current events in a satirical way that makes news a bit more bearable. Another good show is The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. 

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

Jacinda Ardern. She achieves more than any politician and manages to have a family.

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

The most important thing is to have work that you feel has a deep, visceral meaning. If that’s the case, work becomes a big part of your meaning. It gives you meaning and becomes less work and more life. 

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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.