Balancing the Grind with Emma Ferguson, Head of Legal at LUNA

Emma Ferguson is the Head of Legal at LUNA, a Melbourne based startup hub specialising in helping Australian startups start up.

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

I’m the Head of Legal at LUNA. We’re a startup studio that provides services and support to startups, founders and investors.

I currently lead a team of 10 lawyers and paralegals who work in tandem with our accountants and other advisors to help Australian founders and investors navigate their legal, financial and commercial decisions and rapidly scale their ventures. 

Prior to joining LUNA, I worked in the commercial team at Arnold Bloch Leibler (ABL), one of Australia’s leading commercial law firms. At ABL, I worked across a broad range of commercial matters including M&A, ASX listings and compliance, capital raisings, IP and general / operational contracts.

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

Since LUNA is a startup, my role is quite varied and not strictly legal related. One minute I’m providing complex strategic legal advice and the next I’m assembling office furniture (you need to be prepared to pull your sleeves up in a startup!).

A typical work day will involve meeting with my team for a quick around the grounds and setting targets for the week ahead. I’ll usually have a handful of client and internal meetings throughout the day and touch base with my leadership team to regroup on broader company strategy.

In between all of the meetings, I carve out time to review my colleagues’ legal work, answer queries and prepare legal documents for our clients. There’s also a number of projects on foot – e.g. driving growth and development for our team, organising wellness programs and end of year events. There’s certainly never a dull moment! 

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

Absolutely. We were pretty flexible before COVID, but the lockdowns have certainly broadened our approach to hybrid working. We currently have team members all across Australia and are committed to providing flexible working opportunities.

Essentially – as long as you have access to the internet, you can pretty much work from anywhere! That being said, the LUNA team still has HQs in Melbourne and Sydney and most of us enjoy working from the office a few days a week.

We do recognise the value in connecting and working together IRL and there are certain days scattered throughout the year where we get together in person. In particular, we have a company-wide retreat each year that serves as a great opportunity to get away from our desks and connect with the whole team outside of the zoom grid. 

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

For me, ‘work-life balance’ isn’t necessarily the best way to think about it. They’re not two separate domains. I consider work as one of the many important elements of my life.

I think it’s more worthwhile for me to first and foremost enjoy my work and make sure I have purpose, ownership and satisfaction in what I do. Of course there are elements to every job that are difficult or trying, but on the whole l need to feel aligned with what I’m working towards and who I’m working with.

Surrounding myself with a great and supportive team at LUNA, who challenge and push me to be my best, is really critical to this. 

The other aspect is setting boundaries. Doing this at work has been pivotal to my overall happiness. As a fairly ambitious and career focussed person, it’s easy to let work and clients creep into all hours and aspects of my life.

I’m getting much better at switching off and having evenings or taking leave where I don’t think about work at all. I work best when I recognise that work is just one part of my life. There are so many other valuable facets to invest in – family, friends, exercise and other hobbies (that I’m pretty average at but that give me a lot of enjoyment).

Ultimately, setting boundaries makes me a better advisor and colleague because it allows me to be really present and turn up with a great mindset. Building a team culture that respects boundaries and understands that we all have lives outside of work has been key for us at LUNA. 

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

I’ve been constantly iterating over the years, but I feel like this year I’ve reached a great rhythm and process with my daily work to-do lists. Everyone works differently, and not everyone is a “list person”. But for busy people with multiple tasks and projects on the go, I cannot recommend daily list-making more.   

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

Harvard Business Review – The Management Tip of the Day: a daily newsletter with management gems. Sign up here.

Sorry I’m Late: a weekly newsletter with thoughtful and witty musings on life and the weirdness of humanness. It’s so nice to see something pop up in the inbox that isn’t work related and can give you a bit of perspective outside of the daily grind. Sign up here

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

The Calm app is excellent for those evenings where your brain won’t turn off and you’re struggling to get to sleep. I highly recommend the sleep story with Cillian Murphy. His soothing Irish accent will send you straight to sleep.  

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

Sally Capp – Lord Mayor of Melbourne. She’s a supremely intelligent and busy woman but juggles everything with a fantastically positive and warm attitude. I’d love to know her secrets! 

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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.