Balancing the Grind with Elizabeth Sargeant, Chief of Staff at Skyports

Elizabeth Sargeant is the Chief of Staff at Skyports, the leading enabler of Advanced Air Mobility (AAM), providing the critical link between the ground and the sky.

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

My career to date hasn’t been a typical one. I didn’t join a grad scheme straight out of university and climb the ranks. The truth is, it took me a while to figure out what I wanted from my career and the kind of roles that keep me engaged, interested and excited.

As someone with an over-active mind and a desire to get everything I can out of life, I have never wanted to limit myself to one area and as a result, I have tried and tested a variety of different things, from analyst roles to business development, in several sectors including real estate, automotive, technology and now aviation!

All the experiences I have gained to date have positioned me well for the Chief of Staff role which requires a real generalist with experience in a broad range of areas as well as the attitude to feel comfortable facing and embracing entirely new situations which I may have no experience in.

This role is the perfect fit for my experiences and my personality so I am very glad I never settled for something that didn’t inspire me.

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

What works so well for me is that there is no typical day in the life of a Chief of Staff. For those of us that get bored easily and crave diverse experiences, this is the perfect role.

One day I may be working on improving business operations processes to enable the business to run more efficiently and the next I might be planning a company event/off-site or dealing with people-related issues.

This role isn’t the one for people that like to have a set plan for the week ahead, it definitely keeps you on your toes and requires you to pivot between projects and tasks constantly and this is exactly what I love about it.

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

Work-life balance is extremely important to me. Life is short and, as cliché as it sounds, it is important that we work to live and not live to work. I achieve work life balance but starting my days early.

I get up at 5am and get to the office to have a couple of hours of being super productive until my colleagues arrive. This enables me to leave the office at 5pm and get home to spend time exercising, spending time with my dogs and relaxing in the evening.

I like to get an early night so rather than working late into the evening, I much prefer to get up early and tackle a project with a fresh head. We are all responsible for work-life balance and we therefore need to set boundaries.

Just because someone emails you on a Sunday, it doesn’t mean you should reply on a Sunday (though I have been guilty of this!). The most important thing is to find a job which you enjoy so that there is less distinction between work and life.

It took me a while to find this but now I’m in my current role, if I find myself working on the weekends it’s because I want to. I’m engaged with the company, supportive of the mission and therefore never begrudge committing those extra hours where necessary.

Oh and lastly, be sure to take those holidays! It’s so important to make memories with friends and family. I’ve been away for 4 weeks this summer – luckily my employer is supportive of this providing we are all doing a good job.

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

I was a swimmer growing up and recently started swimming training again to support my fitness goals. Swimming is so therapeutic and such a great workout so this is definitely a positive change.

I have always led a healthy life and never done anything to the extremes, I’m certainly not one to be going out every night on a school night! I also always make sure I make time for myself on the weekends.

I don’t favour a weekend filled with activities as I find I need time to switch off from socialising! In the past 12 months I also welcomed my second dog home. Having two dogs holds you accountable and makes sure you get out in the fresh air and off your backside each day.

Having an office-based job is really important. In my opinion, the more dogs, the better for a healthy and happy life!

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

I am a fan of Steven Bartlett’s Diary of a CEO. I appreciate the diversity of guests he welcomes on the show and the rich experiences they bring.

I also have a subscription to Masterclass which is brilliant. It enables you to immerse yourself in and learn about lots of different areas from the key experts in the field.

For example, I am a big interiors fan and there is a class led by a world-renowned interior designer which I found really interesting.

There are also lots of other classes, everything from dog training to economics and communicating with influence. I highly recommend the platform as there is something for everyone and something to match every mood.

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

I have read several interviews by successful business people on work life balance, many of which I have taken some good tips from for example, Sheryl Sandberg’s commitment to leaving the office by 5.30pm every day.

However, I would like to read an interview on work-life balance by an elite athlete, like Adam Peaty (swimmer) for instance. Athletes have to be extremely disciplined and their work (which in many cases is also a passion), has to come first in order to achieve their best performance.

They can’t jet off on holiday whenever they like or socialise with friends every evening so I would be interested to hear how they switch off and create separation between sport and other commitments in life such as family.

I think swimming is an interesting one as it’s such an isolated sport with the majority of time spent under the water alone with your thoughts and I can imagine that can take its toll. It’s also not known to have big pay cheques and so I think this may make it harder to juggle other commitments as it doesn’t necessarily offer the opportunity to hire help to support in other areas of 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.