Balancing the Grind with Emilio Romeo, Managing Director of Ericsson ANZ

Emilio Romeo is the Managing Director of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, and a member of the leadership team covering India, South East Asia and Oceania.

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

Upon finishing high school, I was faced with the same challenge all new graduates face – where to next? Tossing up whether to take on law, I quickly quashed that idea and my interest in computer science grew stronger – which was of course supported by my zeal for Mathematics.

All the while, I had only been in the country for five years, but my determination to succeed placed me in the school’s top three, giving me an abundance of tertiary options to choose from. I went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Applied Science, with Distinction – a credit to my tenacity and persistence throughout my time at university.

I then tried to look for something that gave me a future and was intrigued by the idea of applying technology to improve business and vice versa.

With a bit of sales experience in my back pocket, having worked in sales for a number of years as a teenager, I joined the IT industry by taking on various IT management and sales positions, taking on the role of ‘interpreter and orchestrator’ between business and technology.

In 1997, I joined Ericsson and soon after I took on a newly created hybrid role between IT and telco and worked my way through various Sales and Leadership roles. In January 2016, I was appointed Managing Director of Ericsson Australia and New Zealand, a role I am incredibly proud of, and a member of the Leadership Team covering India, South East Asia and Oceania.

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

Seven months ago, a typical day for me was spent on planes. Obviously now, it is quite a bit different. I’m not the most pedantic person when it comes to routine or structuring my day, however I like to begin with one hour of exercise and some Yin Yoga.

Currently I exercise in my home gym, making sure to keep my phone away and emails unchecked (unless incredibly urgent!). I also use this time to catch up on the daily news and current affairs. 

Once the body and mind are awake, I feel I can tackle whatever tasks are ahead of me for that day. The rest of the day is spent working in my study, mainly on video calls. I have dinner with my family each night, usually followed by whichever TV show we’re watching together.

Some days I get back to further work but I always finish the day with some meditation, mindfulness and stretching. 

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

I am very fortunate to be in the position I am, with the ability to work from home without too many hitches. I love nature so I will often try and find time to walk by the river or cycle in the forest, particularly on the weekend, to take a breather from the work I am doing. 

Beyond this, the current circumstances have given me more time at home with my family. In fact, a few months ago, we became the proud owners of four chickens – much to my dismay and my wife’s joy – just kidding, I do love them. But, safe to say a fair bit of my time has been spent building the chicken coop. Or as my friends call it, “the Romeo Palace.” It has been fun!

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Everyone is different in the work they do, the people around them and the goals they set. But how I approach my time in general is split into three – learning, serving teams I lead and working alongside my peers. 

You can learn so much from the people around you. Fortunately for me, I am surrounded by an amazing team, so managing my time is made a lot easier by the hard work they put in.

I see the value in empowering colleagues by giving them the opportunity and latitude to run and own their ‘pillars’ of the business, while simply supporting them when they need it. This involves a lot of trust, but if you have the right people for the job, this drives the most success. 

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

I often look at work-life balance like I do a bank account – you need to constantly replenish and refill it to keep the balance healthy, like credits and debits. 

The credits are of course spending time with my family. For example, every night we always try to have dinner together, and the current circumstances have certainly helped with this, given the time I used to spend travelling. I’m sure this is the same for many people who travel for work across the country. Replenishing “me” time is also important.

The other way I look at work-life balance is a juggling analogy, outlined by a friend of mine: in life we are constantly juggling a number of balls – all of them are made out of rubber; except two which are glass, being your health and your family – you can’t afford to drop them.

The rubber balls are bouncy of course, and if dropped can bounce back. To me, work-life balance is about prioritising the things you can sense need your attention and care.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

I am a believer that you should be ‘short-term obsessed’, channeling your energy into excelling at whatever is in front of you, rather than always looking too far ahead and being overly concerned about what is next.

Be passionately dedicated to the pursuit of short-term goals. Of course, it is important to have a long-term outlook in mind – but it is so important to address every step of that long-term journey with care and tenacity. 

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

The Rules of Work and Scotwork’s Negotiating Skills are two books which come to mind. I also take a lot of value and inspiration from quotes I have read or been shared over the years, of which I jot down in a small notebook I keep with me.

One that has stuck with me over the years is by Huseyn Raza, “Every single one of us has the power to make and shape our own moments. Remember, we are our own griefs, we are our own happinesses and we are our own remedies.”

8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

To maximise productivity, every day I focus on the execution of short-term goals. Too often one can tend to focus on the long-term end goal and forget to do a great job at what’s right in front of them. 

My morning wellness (body and mind) routine sets me up for a productive day.  I also try to find the time for 10-30 minutes of meditation or listening to music, which goes a long way in keeping me grounded and focused.

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

To me, one of the most important things in life is connecting with people – authentically and genuinely. I feel that networks are more critical than hierarchies.

Another quote that I love, and one that sums this up beautifully comes from an American poet and civil rights activist Maya Angelou, “People will forget what you say or do but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

And finally, passion. Nothing of significance in the world has been achieved without passion. Listen with empathy, relentless commitment and dedication, and a positive attitude. 

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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.