CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Dayana Yermolayeva, CEO & Founder at JiPay

Dayana Yermolayeva is the CEO & Founder at JiPay, a start-up on a mission is to provide financial independence to migrant domestic workers.

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

My name is Dayana and I am from Ukraine. At present, I’m the founder of a Singaporean fintech startup called JiPay focusing on payments for migrant domestic workers.

Prior to this I graduated from the World Bachelor in Business triple degree programme administered jointly by USC, HKUST and Bocconi. I worked in consulting during my degree, then started JiPay fresh out of college. 

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

I wake up around 8 am and the first thing I always do is walk my dog while checking emails and catching up on messages I receive throughout the night from people in Europe – that could be work or friends/ family.

At JiPay we work a hybrid model so I’ll either head to the office or work from home (I spend around 3/5 days a week in the office). In the mornings I’ll either do quiet work or catch up with individual team members. At 2pm we have our team-wide standup where we run through daily priorities and open questions.

Afternoons are usually for meetings/ calls or more involved teamwork as the whole team (even developers based further West) is online. If I’m in the office I leave around 19.30 and head home or out for dinner.

One of my teammates does customer support throughout the day and I do evenings and weekends, so from this point on I’m a bit glued to my phone as I need to make sure I don’t miss any customer incoming messages. I try to monitor this until around 11pm.

I sometimes get back to work after dinner to finish off “quieter” tasks like designs or going through emails. Before going to bed I usually walk my dog and call my best friends back in Europe to give them in depth updates about my life – this one’s non negotiable no matter how busy I am. 

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

One of the perks of being a founder is you get to choose your company’s work style! So yes, I’m able to work remotely or from home. Personally I prefer to work in the office as there are fewer distractions and it’s easier to work collaboratively with the team.

That said, working from a different time zone I find very difficult. I spent a few months working from Europe last year and after a while the 4 am wake-ups got unsustainable! 

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

I think ultimately work and life should not be separate concepts. Even in a basic 9-5 a person would spend about 50% of their awake time working, that’s more than on any other activity! So if work is considered external to “life” you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

To me, the balance is an internal feeling. If I wake up anxious or tired in the mornings I know something’s off. But some of my most “balanced” periods are those where I’m working the longest hours. Getting in a bit of exercise goes a long way – I’ve recently started doing yoga a few times a week which definitely helps me with my zen and general fitness.

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

I moved to Singapore just over a year ago so I’ve had to change up a lot of routines in the past 12 months, particularly with the many COVID restriction changes which made us go back and forth in terms of social distancing and travel.

The biggest one is that I’ve had to become quite consistent in terms of my day-to-day routine because our team is growing and is very international, which requires a lot of synchronisation to make sure everyone can communicate.

After going through raising our Seed I’ve also started giving more thought to my mental state and I try to prioritise seeing friends at least a few times a week as I feel that being stuck at my desk 24-7 actually decreases my productivity. 

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

The Defining Decade by Dr Meg Jay is a must for any twenty-something year old (founder or otherwise). This book kind of reaffirmed to me that building JiPay is exactly what I should be doing. 

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

Notion has made my project management visualisation dreams come true. 

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

Any successful female founder who is also a mother. I’m struggling to do this with a Pomeranian, how do people do this with mini humans (multiple!)? 

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

In Ukrainian we say “the best rest is a change of activity” and I really live by that mantra. Feeling reseted or balanced isn’t necessarily about doing less work, but about switching up tasks or structuring your day in a way which prevents burnout! 

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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.