CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Geoffroy Henry, Founder & CEO at Ofload

Geoffroy Henry is the founder & CEO at Ofload, a digital tech B2B forwarding company bringing transparency and trust back to trucking.

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

I started my career in France in investment banking. I moved to Australia in 2013, with the aim to continue my career in this space, but a friend working at HelloFresh encouraged me to join the company as it was going through a phase of fast growth.

That was a big potential career change for me, but it is the greatest decision I have ever made—just because of the fun we had. There’s nothing more exhilarating than working in a fast-growth company, with good-humoured and like-minded people, working alongside the best of the best talent, and witnessing the company’s journey from early stages.

While working at HelloFresh, I realised there were inefficiencies in the logistics industry in Australia, and this is when my entrepreneurial career started.

I led a transport industry company, Be Cool, which was then sold to HelloFresh, and after an 18 month stint as MD of EdTech Zookal that helped sharpen my leadership skills, I started Ofload with the objective to transform the road freight industry.

There are still a lot of inefficiencies in this sector, with many trucks running empty, or staying idle for long periods of time, and our objective is to tackle these issues.

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

I don’t want to be ignorant of what happens in the world, so I usually start my day by reading news headlines from Australia and around the globe. I try not to set an alarm and prefer to wake up naturally. If I don’t, my kids take care of it anyway! Then I’m in charge of preparing breakfast for everyone and driving the kids to childcare. 

I usually start work between 7:30-8am, and then it is mostly a series of meetings throughout the day. I have ruled out long meetings almost entirely, and keep the large majority of them to 30 minutes maximum. I’ve found this makes for more efficient and better prepared conversations. 

I think it’s important to develop healthy habits, so at lunch time I usually take an hour to exercise.

After work, I usually spend some precious family time with my kids, then give them a bath and put them to bed. It’s an important time of the day for me to disconnect from work and focus on them. I usually reconnect in the evening and often work until 9-9:30pm.

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

Not in the usual sense of work-life balance. My role does entail long hours, but I have developed my own approach and mindset to work-life balance. 

I do encourage work-life balance at Ofload. At the end of the day, we are a tech company, so everyone has the tools to do their job remotely. However, I also believe that time in the office is important.

My goal with building a company is not just about the bottom line. I want to create a positive environment, a unique culture, and build a sense of purpose among employees. I want the team to be happy, engaged and have fun in what they do. 

I think it’s really hard to achieve this when you are in a fully remote setup and physical interactions are really important—especially when you are a fast-growing company like ours. Imagine that 50% of our team has never been in the office, and I can’t wait for us to spend some time together as a team. But ultimately, I’m happy for everyone to apply the balance that works best for them. 

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 about the hours, and more about the energy and ability to disconnect completely from work when it is important.

I do work long hours and I enjoy the work I do, but I also want to have the right energy when I go home to my family. I have limited time to spend with them so I want to be fully available and present, and spend quality time where I don’t have to think about work or anything else. 

Therefore, I’ve learnt to manage my work days in a way that keeps my energy levels high, or at least I’m not completely exhausted by the end of the day. I have also developed a strong ability to completely switch off and disconnect from work when needed. I use music to do this, it’s very important to me, and it becomes a way for me to mark the transition and flip the switch.

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

When the pandemic started, I saw a lot of depression and negativity around me, and I wasn’t prepared for it. I took a personal coach who helped me figure things out, not only focusing on personal growth, but also tackling mental health.

We had weekly sessions for four months, and it was instrumental in helping me cope. This pandemic hasn’t been only about processing the events around me, but also managing this feeling of being stranded in Australia and kept away from my family in France.

I live here, but travelling was essential to keep me happy because it allowed me to see the important people in my life whenever I wanted to, and this had been taken away from me.

I also realised that I wasn’t allowing myself enough time for exercise, and this is when I decided to take a personal trainer, with sessions up to four times a week to keep a healthy routine and a balanced mental mindset. It forced me to embrace healthier life habits, and I have also switched to a much healthier food diet which is also important to keep everything in balance.

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

To be honest I don’t have much time for podcasts, but I do read a lot of news. My primary source for global news is the Wall Street Journal. The subscription is a bit expensive, but it is high quality journalism, and I do recommend it to anyone interested in the world’s current affairs.

My go to for Australian news is the Sydney Morning Herald, and I also stay across French news, reading Le Monde and Le Point on a regular basis. I find reading sources from different countries keeps me informed on world events and also helps to get different perspectives on a matter.

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

It’s a tough one for me to answer because I’m not exactly a gadget or app kind of guy, and I’m not a gamer either. However, music definitely plays an important role in my life and I couldn’t go very long without my Spotify app.

I listen to maybe six hours of music every day, which helps in many aspects. Either for waking up and putting you in a good mood, focusing, or relaxing and switching off—there’s music for every objective and scenario.

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

I really like Tim Ferriss’ thoughts, especially his application of the Pareto principle that I use at work. The Pareto principle states that about 80% of the consequences come from 20% of the causes.

If you flip it, that means that 20% of what you do provides 80% of the output and this has really helped me a lot to multitask efficiently, and adjust the amount of energy I’m putting into each task.

I don’t need to deliver work that’s 100% refined because I know most stakeholders, including myself, will be happy with 80% of the output, and therefore I’m only putting in 20% of effort. It helps me be a more well-rounded business leader, with a fair amount of knowledge across more topics. 

I also like Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, because as a business leader, he is really swimming against the current. He’s established a US$70K minimum salary in his company, decreased his salary, and given his employees unlimited holidays.

To me, he is the perfect example, that in this highly capitalistic world, you can still achieve great business outcomes with unusual management and cultural models. I resonate with the fact that past a certain amount, money doesn’t provide us with additional happiness.

It’s incredibly important to respect and bring employees along in the journey, and find how we can reconcile the money-making aspect of a business with ways that benefit your employees. 

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

My key message on work-life balance is that even if you don’t necessarily have a lot of time on your hands, that doesn’t mean you can’t achieve balance.

To me, it is a matter of how we use that time. We have to do things that bring us value, which genuinely help us charge our own batteries, and work towards being happy in our lives—whether it’s going golfing or having a beer with a mate.

So, my advice is really to put the effort into waking up in the morning with the objective to see through the activities that will bring more happiness. That means listening to ourselves, our body, identifying what really puts a smile on our face, and living our spare time to the fullest. Even if that time is short, and intense, it will be worth 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.