HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Dora Peake, General Manager, People and Culture at Versent

Dora Peake is the General Manager of People and Culture at Versent, a technology company, focused on architecting, building & operating cloud native applications, data streams, platforms and services.

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

I have worked as an HR professional for my entire career across a diverse range of industries including finance, infrastructure and development and technology. Throughout my career I have been very focused on creating an environment that is inclusive and delivering people strategies that invest in, develop and reward people. 

My current role as General Manager of People & Culture for the Versent Group really enables me to bring this vision to life and it is an absolute pleasure to be part of a dynamic Australian born Technology company that enables businesses to deliver their best and help enterprises think and act like a start up.

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

Variety really is the spice of life and my workdays offer a range of interesting opportunities and challenges. My key priority and focus every day, particularly since COVID-19 and remote working is on ensuring the wellbeing, health and safety of our people, so this features strongly in my workdays.

In the mornings I start with a wellbeing check with my own incredible team. This might only take 10 minutes but maintaining connection is especially important, particularly as we are working remotely. I then spend a large part of my day working one on one with our people leaders, focusing on key business priorities, supporting them in developing their leadership capability and tackling any employee concerns they have.

A good portion of my day is also dedicated to developing strategies that invest in our employees and I’m lucky enough to have a very supportive executive team that fosters a culture of inclusion. 

Most recently I’ve been working on our wellbeing strategy that builds on the work we did last year to support our people on a diverse range of health and wellbeing topics including maintaining motivation, resilience, leading hybrid and remote teams and financial self -care. This strategy is focused on the ‘whole person’ not just who we are as employees.  

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

The Versent group is hands down the most flexible workplace I have ever worked in and is a business that actively promotes and demonstrates flexibility as part of its DNA.

I believe that this has made our transition to remote working so much easier as we already work in a way that best suits our individual circumstances and lifestyle. There is trust there and we accommodate our employees who feel supported and enabled.  People always come first and the family spirit is an important part of our culture. 

I enjoy the fact that I could pick up my children from school a few days a week and work in a way that best suits me. I know that I can shift my days around to suit my priorities and I have the backing of my team and business. There are great days and more challenging days but I have learnt to set more shorter term goals and adapt to changing circumstances.

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

Work-life balance means that I get to choose what is important to me and shape my day and environment to help me achieve my goals for that particular day or week.

We can all be guilty of setting unrealistic expectations for ourselves and expecting that we can maintain everything to perfection then feeling deflated and disappointed when we don’t achieve our own impossible standards. Getting the basics right like sleep, exercise and protecting your time are skills and habits that can transform your life and help you feel like you have balance.  

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

I have had to totally rethink my routines and habits over the last 12 months because of the restrictions placed on us during  COVID-19. Meditation has been a real tonic for me as it helps to manage my stress levels, gain perspective and focus on the here and now that is always so much more manageable than the future which can be unknown and unpredictable.

My family and I have also taken up walking as a dedicated activity and I’ve really rediscovered my neighbourhood. Who knew that the simple act of walking could bring so much satisfaction.  

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

I am a voracious reader and am always interested in hearing about different perspectives and views, particularly on how people make it all work. Some good reading I would recommend includes, Enough: True Measures of Money, Business, and Life by John C. Bogle, founder of Vanguard Mutual Fund Group, and another is A Woman Makes a Plan by Maye Musk.

I have recently come across a great podcast called Impact Theory – highly recommended as a source of inspiration and learning from others about how they achieve success and manage their whole lives.

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

I became a Slack convert in 2020 and love how easy it is to communicate one on one or dedicated groups and teams. It truly is a very efficient and effective tool.

 My favourite app by far is Breethe, a meditation app that offers a menu style range of meditations on topics such as making your mind matter, feeling happier, getting healthier and achieving success. 

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

I can’t go past Jacinda Ardern, a woman with heart and soul who serves as a real inspiration for all.

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

Work, life and balance is about managing your life in a meaningful way and creating a life that drives greater satisfaction and happiness. It’s about moving away from ideals of perfection and obsession to find lasting fulfilment. 

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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.