Greg O’Connor is the AsiaPac Education and Technology Leader at Texthelp, a company providing literacy support and digital inclusion solutions.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve actively been involved in Australia’s education sector for over 30 years, kickstarting my career as a classroom teacher and then moving into management roles with the New South Wales Department of Education.
As technology began to play a more prominent role in our everyday lives, I saw the potential of it to have a hugely positive impact on learners across the globe, from empowering and enabling students with diverse learning needs to supporting the productivity and instruction of teachers.
In my current role, I’m focused on growing Texthelp’s presence in Australia. We most recently launched our writing achievement tool in the region, WriQ, which is designed to help motivate students and reduce marking time for teachers.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My role is incredibly varied and no two days are the same.
An average day can consist of speaking with parents, educators and administrators, managing customer feedback all the way through to tailoring our edtech solutions to the needs of students and teachers across the nation both now and into the future.
I also regularly collaborate with our technology partners, present at conferences and seminars and provide online product training to educators.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I’m based in Northern NSW so before the pandemic, I was quite often on the road or in the air, attending in-person events and speaking with parents, educators and administrators face-to-face.
The pandemic has naturally shifted a lot of these activities online which has meant I’ve been at home for quite some time now. Prior to lockdown I was regularly coordinating with my Texthelp colleagues in Boston and Belfast, so it wasn’t a massive adjustment.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’m incredibly passionate about education technology and the impact the two can have on society. It’s this passion that keeps me motivated and driven with my work at Texthelp. I love being able to collaborate with educators and help them unearth the value that technology can provide to enhance the learning experience.
I also love spending time with family, connecting with friends during COVID-19 – albeit sometimes remotely and taking time to keep fit. Texthelp is fantastic in supporting flexibility of my work day to allow this to happen, as they’re committed to their employees both professionally and personally.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
A big one for me has been not being able to travel nationally and internationally. While I’ve missed travelling and meeting new people, I have enjoyed this time at home and have used it to refocus on both my personal and work related goals.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I love reading anything sci-fi, so anything by Stephen Baxter. The same goes in terms of education literature, I’m a big fan of Michael Fullan and John Hattie.
For podcasts, I’ve recently been listening to All things Equal, Stuff You Should Know, Reply All and The Music Show.
It’s hard to keep track of all the blogs and newsletters that I read because there are so many! I use Feedly to keep track of them all, and Texthelp’s education blog of course!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
So many. Ranging from household necessities such as sharp kitchen knives, all the way to my Bluetooth earbuds and Apple watch (these keep me on track fitness wise). I’m also a bit of a vinyl nerd, so my Rega turntable to play my vinyl collection is essential.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Jacinda Ardern. She’s managed the pandemic so well, all the while raising a newly born child and is an exemplar leader to boot!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Take changes, both those forced upon you and those you make yourself, as an opportunity to do something different and take a risk. You will never know where you will end up – that’s the point.
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