Interviews / Operations

Balancing the Grind with Faith Forster, COO at Vonto

Faith Forster is the COO at Vonto, a mobile app that helps you stay on top of your business by delivering daily insights from Xero, Google Analytics, Shopify and more.

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

I’ve had a very mixed career, I have a bad habit of giving anything I find exciting a go, no matter how crazy it may seem. I started out life in marketing (well before social media existed), then moved into project/ change management and organisational design.

I started my first startup as my maternity leave project initially and ironically wrapped it up just after I had my twins (baby number 2 and 3). I’ve done startups or corporate ventures (corporate backed startups) for 10 years now, spanning many industries and types of solutions.   

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

Now that lock-down has lifted I’m back into my routine of doing bootcamp two mornings a week at 6am. On the days I don’t do bootcamp I’ll do the school/ day care run. Most mornings are back-to-back calls.

I have an hour break scheduled every lunch time, either to take some time for myself, catch up on work or occasionally walk to the beach. I’m then either on calls again, or for two afternoons a week I have now blocked out the time to actually get work done so I’m not using my evenings or day off (Fridays) to catch up. In terms of the work I am doing, every week is different.

I typically have 2-3 major goals or ‘nuts to crack’ that I try to resolve each week to help the team and keep our cadence up.  

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

Yes. I live on the central coast, overlooking Avoca Beach so being able to work from home was really important to me. Even when we weren’t in lock down, I typically go into the office once/ week or once/ fortnight. With three young kids, it would be difficult to manage otherwise.  

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

For me it is about mindshare rather than practicalities or logistics. Startups can be all-consuming, even if you are not technically working you are still thinking about it.

It’s been a recent lesson, but I have learnt to be satisfied with what I can achieve and then switch off so I can maintain enough energy to enjoy time with my kids. I’ve also learnt to prioritise doing things for myself, like yoga on Friday mornings.  

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

Yes. It was a big shift for me to block out an hour every lunchtime. Before that I was literally back to back on calls, and it would get to the evening and be absolutely shattered.

Scheduling the time to actually do work or focus activity two afternoons a week has also given me back my time in the evenings and on my day off. Now I don’t feel guilty if I don’t get things done because I know I have scheduled time to do it the next day.  

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

The thing that has had the biggest impact on me recently is Brene Brown’s youtube video on vulnerability. I had watched it before, but I think what she says means different things depending on where you are.

My willingness to be vulnerable has made a big difference to me and also my team who have commented that it feels more like a family. 

CBA’s employee health fund also ran morning meditation sessions each day during lockdown which I really valued.   

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

My AirPods and Apple Carplay, so I can catch up on calls while doing the school and day care run or while I walk to the beach.   

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

I think work-life balance is about working out what works for you and your personal circumstances. Everyone’s lives are different, and you are rarely aware of all the challenges other people face or what they find stressful. So while it’s useful to get ideas from others to test, trying to copy other people’s solutions isn’t always an effective way to find your own equilibrium.    

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

COVID has done a lot to reset expectations about work vs life. So I think focusing on finding balance between the things that are important to you is a better way to think about it. 

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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.