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Balancing the Grind with Hannah Sutcliffe, Co-Founder & COO of MOONHUB

Hannah Sutcliffe is the co-founder & COO of MOONHUB, a company that provides high-quality training for forward-thinking companies by immersing their staff in interactive VR scenarios.

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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 what I can only describe as a slightly ‘job-hopping’ start to my career, ahead of joining MOONHUB just over five years ago. After leaving University back in 2015, where I studied languages (French and Spanish) with Management, you may expect that I would have done a typical ‘language career’; However, I joined a design agency as an International Sales Manager so I was able to use my language skills in a different way. I would spend my time booking meetings abroad, and driving/flying across Europe with the designs to sell; this was a great opportunity to meet so many different people, and really put my driving skills to the test. After a year, I then left and undertook a marketing internship with a chain of nurseries, whilst working as a teaching assistant in a local primary school as I considered beginning a career in education. However, I decided that wasn’t for me, and joined MOONHUB as one of the co-founders and am currently COO for our business. 

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

Gosh, every day is honestly different. When starting out as a startup and being there effectively from day one, you wear so many hats and take on so many different roles so I’ve dipped my toes into sales, marketing, HR, finance, and I’m now working as Chief Operating Officer, so I oversee all functions and the operations of the business which I love. At present, a day in my life would be recruiting and onboarding, speaking with our lawyers to go through different contracts, working on our investment pitch for our next fundraise, and focusing on our sales strategy with our Sales Manager.

If we’re getting into the small details, then I start the majority of my days with a workout to get the endorphins going, then walk to work through the Olympic Park in Stratford, or along the canal. 

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

 Absolutely, I work from my computer so I can work from wherever. However, I prefer to work from the office as I enjoy working in-person with our team, and it enables more creative collaboration. Last week, I was in San Francisco for a female founder investor networking event, so I was able to work from the States – the only change was the 8 hour time difference, which actually helped me get through a lot of admin/strategizing work! 

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

I think all founders would say that a LOT of hours get put into the startup of a business, and sometimes personal life can definitely be put onto the backburner to ensure the startup succeeds. Hiring the right people to be able to help focus on certain areas is the way forward to achieve a good work-life balance, so you can let go of certain areas and trust they’ll be a success. For me, work-life balance would be knowing that we, as founders, can take a week’s holiday and be able to relax knowing that everything will continue smoothly. On a day to day basis, I walk to and from work (30 mins each way along the canal) and that helps me take a little time out, to have a definitive start and end to my day, that is, if I don’t begin my day by checking emails first thing in the morning – a very bad habit! 

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

 Yes. I have started sitting on the floor to ground myself. I can look a little weird in the office, but it’s kind of like a ‘reset’ function if I’m feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed with something. Taking 5-10 minutes out is necessary, to avoid those small burnouts. I’ve also begun journalling recently. I’m not doing too well at doing it regularly so that’s a work in progress, but when I write things down, I really do see the benefits. 

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

 Yes yes yes – Rocket Fuel by Wickman and Winters. A mentor of mine bought this book for me, and she said I absolutely had to read it, and honestly, it has changed my business way of life. It describes CEO’s as Visionaries, and COO’s as Integrators; Reading the characteristics of an Integrator, I can truly see why I am the right person for this role at MOONHUB. I do need some podcast recommendations though, as that’s an easy one to get absorbed in on a commute!

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

 My headphones (airpods specifically as they’re the ones I use) – whether I listen to music or a podcast on my commute to work, or I’m pretending to have a phone conversation with someone whilst actually practising our investment pitch, they’re so useful! 

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

 I don’t have anyone in particular in mind, but it would be great to read an interview/listen to a podcast by another female founder in a similar position to me as a young COO (under 30), to learn from and be able to realise we’re (generally) all in the same boat. 

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

I’ve recently experienced the saying of ‘Rome can’t be built in a day’, as much as I would sometimes like it to ahah. Sometimes, you have to just switch off and trust the process, that when you come back an hour later, the next day, the next week, that you’ll be far more productive. This is definitely easier said than done, but I guess patience is a virtue in this respect. 

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.