Balancing the Grind with David Price, CEO of Employsure & BrightHR

David Price is the CEO of Employsure, ANZ’s leading external employment relations advisors and BrightHR, which is quickly becoming the most popular HR software and support service for SMEs.

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

My entrepreneurial spirit has driven me since I was a child, granted it’s led me down a very different path than my early days selling frozen berries, door-to-door with my twin brother Alan!

The two of us started and grew a handful of small businesses, but we eventually sold those and I went to work alongside my brother at Peninsula Group – the leading UK HR, employment law, and health & safety advisors for small and medium-sized businesses.

I started as a graduate there and eventually worked my way up, taking every opportunity I could. Eventually, I moved to Sydney to head up the Group’s acquisition of Employsure and get it in a solid position before I moved back to manage a similar acquisition for a company called Health Assured, followed by Croner.

As luck would have it, I was made a Group Director and moved back to Sydney in 2021 (I can’t say it was an overly hard choice to make to be so close to these golden beaches!) 

Fast forward to today, I wear a few different hats. I’m the CEO of Employsure, responsible for leading the company into its next phase of growth as we continue to support more and more of the SME community. I am also the CEO of its sister company, BrightHR, which offers HR software for small businesses. Finally, I am the Group Business Development Director, responsible for Peninsula Group business growth. 

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

Every day for me brings a slightly different routine so I will try and condense it into the highlights! 

I start every day with a 6am jog from Bronte to Bondi – Monday to Sunday, rain or shine. It’s the one routine that I’ve picked up over the past year or so that gives me time to think and enjoy some fresh air. On the weekends, my wife and young daughter come with me, which is quality, uninterrupted time with them that I look forward to each weekend.

I’m in the office every day before 9am and the first hour or so is spent reviewing my day with my EA and clearing global emails that have come in overnight. On Mondays and Fridays, my time is taken up with frequent direct report meetings and executive team updates, to keep me across various projects and initiatives we’ve got on the go. 

On Tuesday and Thursday afternoons, our offices enjoy a delivery from our famous tea trolley – an Employsure and Peninsula Group tradition that’s too good to say no to sometimes! Team members come around with a sweet treat and a cuppa and I find this one of the best opportunities to have a chat with them and hear more about what they’re focused on for the week, and hear firsthand where improvements can be made. 

At present, we’re in a pretty significant growth period so many of my days are full of interviews. Some of the candidates that come through to be interviewed are often surprised that the CEO is involved at all, especially given our company size. For me, this is one of the most fulfilling and vital parts of my job, ensuring that every employee is invested in our vision and dedicated to small businesses across Australia and New Zealand.

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

It does. For example, last month I continued my usual CEO duties while I was back in the UK in my Group capacity for a few weeks. The time difference makes things a little more complicated but nothing makes it impossible!

In saying that, our company prioritises an office-first working culture which I am incredibly passionate about and want to lead by example with this. I love being in the office each day as it helps me to feel fully integrated into all aspects of the business – often challenging with a company of nearly one thousand! 

Coaching, collaboration, and face to face communication is the key to our ongoing success. 

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

This may be a controversial opinion but I’ve never really seen my career as work. Although I’m technically not a small business owner, I do see my work as similar to running my own business. I feel emotionally invested in it, I can work unusual hours but I never see it as ‘work’. 

The beauty of this is that I don’t need to switch off because I technically don’t switch on. In saying this, I am only human and I do set boundaries, but they feel more like a cooling off period rather than a complete detachment. I don’t even have a personal phone which I imagine some business leaders are screaming at me through the screen about!

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

I’ve set more boundaries for myself (see aforementioned answer above!) to make sure I maintain energy and focus. 

I’ve also placed more emphasis on prioritising healthy habits for myself such as my morning coastal jogs and walks. Given my unusual and long working hours when I connect with my global counterparts, prioritising sleep hygiene has had a significant improvement on how I feel overall.

A year ago, it would be easy to stay up the extra few hours a night, getting caught up in planning. Now, those extra hours make a world of difference to both my mental clarity throughout the day, and even my interactions with my colleagues and family. 

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

A podcast I’m really into at the moment is the Diary of a CEO. Not because of the style of chats or the host, but because of the diverse range of fascinating guests that they have on the show.

A recent episode that resonated with me was with who has a great personal story that not any people would know about. His mother would insist that he wore suits to school, isolating himself from his peers, so that he’s stay on the straight and narrow and set him up for success. I’m fascinated by a good backstory from leaders’ formative years and it makes me think back to mine and my brother’s upbringing that was seen as different from our peers. 

 In terms of books, I’d encourage anyone in a leadership role to read Jack Welch’s Real Life MBA. It’s a fast-paced read that perfectly sums up the challenges that modern businesses are facing, and insights into how they can be overcome. 

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

Nothing too out of the ordinary! I’d be lost without my iPhone, Outlook app, and Apple Music to get me through the day. My new Apple Watch is also really helping keep me on track with and focused on my fitness.

If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d probably say Gary Vaynerchuk because I appreciate his candidness about working A LOT! He’s a successful leader and is clearly doing something right so I’d love to read more about what he considers a balanced lifestyle.

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

Know what works for you, set your routine and respect it. What work life balance is to you may have an entirely different meaning to someone else. Create work and home situations that work best for you and your family’s needs, disregarding what other people think. Ultimately, it’s about enjoying what you do and feeling like you never truly have to do a full day’s work in life!

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.