CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Giles Gunesekera, Founder & CEO of Global Impact Initiative

Giles Gunesekera is the founder & CEO of Global Impact Initiative, which creates Impact Investments; seeking both a positive financial return and a positive social impact for its clients and stakeholders.

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

Prior to starting Global Impact Initiative (GII) in 2015, I spent 20+ years working in funds management and working for global firms. My roles were focused on building, rebuilding and re-engineering teams, processes and products.

Global Impact Initiative (GII) creates Impact Investments, seeking both a positive financial return and a positive social impact for its clients and stakeholders. The business works under five key pillars of Gender Equality, Indigenous Communities, Health, Affordable Housing and Climate and our work is measured, mapped and monitored to the United Nations, Sustainable Development Goals. 

Simultaneously I have served and continue to volunteer on boards ranging from International Aid, Human Rights, Climate Action, Disabilities, Education, Arts and Sports. I am also on Advisory Boards for the United Nations for Climate & Health and Sustainable Finance.

I am a Director of ASX Listed Company Magnis Energy Technologies (MNS). The company’s vision is to enable, support and accelerate the green energy transition critical for the adoption of Electric Mobility and Renewable Energy Storage.

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

The business operates in three key areas; executive coaching, facilitation and impact investing. The business’ aim is to help improve individual and organisation impact.

A day would involve executive coaching work, running workshops for clients on ESG and Impact, meetings with clients, government and other stakeholders to discuss our Impact strategies in Gender, Housing and Climate and meetings with my team in Asia and Europe. 

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

It’s a journey! Running a business is the most exhausting and yet gratifying thing I have ever done in my professional career. I use exercise as a way to get balance in my life by doing a variety of physical activities that are solo or group activities.

My gym and cycling time are solo and is usually where some of my best ideas come from. My team-based sports in cricket, golf and tennis are social yet competitive allowing me to get some of that balance back. Having spent most of my career working for global business’ I learnt early on to not look or respond to email on the weekend.

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

I am an avid podcast fan and have broadened my listening to include more self-development podcasts in addition to news and current affairs. I am also trying to meditate more.

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

My go-to daily podcasts are The Squiz, 7am and Fear and Greed. I am currently reading Let Her Fly by Ziauddin Yousafzai who is the father of Nobel Peace Prize Winner and girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai. I love this book because it highlights the important role that Male’s can play in Gender Equality.  

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

Professor Muhammad Yunus is an inspirational leader who continues to change the lives of women, girls and communities. 

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

Turn all notifications off and don’t be a slave to email and social media. Answer email and other messages at a time that suits you. Block your calendar with recurring times for strategic thinking, planning and the key roles that you know you have to do to be successful. Seek and receive feedback from a wide range of people and build and harness diversity, equity and inclusion – it leads to better decisions and outcomes. 

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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.