Balancing the Grind with Gabrielle Dracopoulos, Head of Customer Experience at Intuit Quickbooks Australia

Gabrielle Dracopoulos is the Head of Customer Experience at cloud accounting software company Intuit Quickbooks Australia.

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

Throughout my career I have always been in roles that centered around the customer. I started my career working on the frontline of an insurance company in a call centre, and then progressed onto a face to face role in a retail branch piloting a new way of engaging customers as they entered.

It was here that I felt a real passion for customer experience and behaviour. I took that experience into R&D into customer centric products and then worked in a huge disruptor, the first online-only bank. 

I pivoted my career to a new discipline in the market (at the time) that was called customer experience. And I loved it! I had the opportunity to design an end to end customer experience program that I felt really proud of. I worked in other various roles, one in banking and then  customer experience for Guide Dogs Australia which was an incredibly special role for me.

This role led me to Intuit. I learnt more about how Intuit is a mission driven company that is backed by a real purpose to make a difference – it had me sold. I felt like I was working for a not for profit, but backed by a multi million dollar company. 

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

A lot of the work that I do at Intuit is supporting and leading my team so in a work from home environment that means a lot of time on Zoom.

As a team focused around the experience of our customers, we spend a good portion of our week listening to customers and going through their feedback to see where we can make even a small difference. 

In saying that, as a collective, we’ve come up with creative ways to stay connected and engaged as a team that go beyond the usual Zoom catch ups and check-ins. 

On Monday we follow our team huddle with Monday Madness, a drop-in 30 mins fitness session to get rid of the weekend cobwebs. Tuesdays are ‘Team meeting Tuesdays’ where we look at our progress, assess where we are and identify what we need to do in the week coming.

Also on Tuesday afternoons we have Tuesday tunes where we take 30 mins out of our week to join in on a connected Zoom where we are all listening to the same music but doing our individual work. We have virtual yoga sessions and on Fridays at 4pm, we all grab a wine or any beverage and play a virtual game of Family Feud, Bingo or Virtual Mafia. 

Because our team is international, we’ve often got calls from 6am and sometimes at 9pm at night. We’ve built a culture that empowers team members to take back their time. If someone has two hours of early calls, they can take those two hours during the day to run errands, take some time to themselves or just have flexibility where they need it in their day. 

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

Absolutely. We have actually just hired remote workers in Brisbane and Melbourne. For me personally, remote working is such a value add for my life, and really has become a necessity.

I have been able to spend more time with my son who is on the autism spectrum. He’s in high school now, and although I work really hard, having the flexibility to take time during the day means I can be more present for him more at school in supporting not just the pick up and drop off, but being at assemblies and meetings and connecting with other parents that have children in the support unit. 

Remote working has meant my son knows I’m available and only a 10 minute drive away – it’s a safety net and he feels more comfortable. That’s a huge win for us both. 

I’ve also been able to get my health and fitness journey back on track by putting myself in my own routine in community sports and getting to the gym. I’ve been able to put more focus on myself whereas before I was focused on everyone else. 

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

Balance for me has been a learning throughout my career and it comes down to knowing what you’re willing to do and what you’re not willing to do.

Having that clarity doesn’t mean I necessarily stick by that and I’m really rigid, It means I have guiding principles and sometimes do have to compromise on them but I still then have a core in which it guides my decision making.

These principles allow me to make better decisions on what is going to allow me to do my best work. By putting in that time for myself every day knowing that it may be overridden by something else but just knowing I’ve got the hour blocked out, it gives me reassurance if something does come up.

Work-life balance doesn’t mean working more or less, it means working smarter and knowing what you do and don’t want to do, and also what you will and won’t do.  

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

Working from home permanently, I’ve done a lot of testing and learning about what works and what doesn’t work for me personally. One huge learning for me has been having a set up and dedicated space for when I’m in my work zone.

Knowing that once I leave that space I can switch back into self-mode and family-mode. That space can be an office, a corner in a room, but just making sure I have that space so I’m mentally able to switch between work on and work off. 

When I do individual work that’s not a Zoom, I go to a cafe and do focused work time. For me it’s about separating the work so I can be really focused on a task. That might be for an hour and just changing up that dedicated space. 

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

I’m currently reading Multipliers for the third time – how the best leaders make everyone smarter by Liz Wiseman. I highly recommend it to anyone in a leadership position or who is an individual contributor.

It teaches how everyone in these roles is influential and helps you understand the influence and leadership you have and how it really does impact the lives of others. It’s really helped me understand my role as a role model and how my actions as a leader are so important. 

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

It’s probably a common one, but my phone keeps me connected to my family, friends and work. It gives me flexibility. 

I love Slack. It gives me the opportunity to communicate in such a simple way. And I couldn’t live without iHeartRadio. I jump on it, switch between podcasts, music and radio throughout my work day and when I’m getting out for a walk. 

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

Without a doubt it is Ronni Kahn, the founder of OzHarvest. She is amazing! An activist, lobbyist and advocate, as well as an author – all while holding a CEO role. 

What inspires me about Ronni is that she is always looking to make a difference and advocating for what she believes. How does she do it all while carving out time for herself? 

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

Understand your guiding principles in life – what do you want and not want in life, and focus on achieving a balance around those. It’s not just about work life balance, it’s about work life separation. 

As work and life have really been merged over the last 18 months, boundaries can be quite unclear. Take a step back and understand what your boundaries are. What are your non-negotiables?

Be really clear in that and have a conversation with the people you work with so they have an understanding and empathy. Everyone has something different they’re dealing with so by sharing it with those around you so they will have an understanding if you have to say no to something. 

Focus on your wellness. You’re in the driver’s seat of when you work and when you don’t. You are the master of your own destiny so use that to empower yourself to do the best work of your life, on your own terms. 

Lastly, it’s important to understand yourself and know what drains you and what reenergizes you. Doing more of the things that re-energize you helps you get through the draining moments.

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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.