Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Harriet Gillingham, CSO & Co-Founder at Mountbase

Harriet Gillingham is the CSO & Co-Founder at Mountbase, a platform bringing you stories from entrepreneurs, founders and industry superstars.

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

My career started when I interned at a London startup throughout my last year of uni, working Investor Relations. This was such a learning curve for me being my first ‘office’ job, juggling coursework and commuting to London from Oxford several times a week.

After graduating, I interned as a Venture Capital Analyst in New York City which was the most incredible opportunity to start building my network and meet amazing people.

I returned to London where I got my first graduate job as a Customer Success Manager, working there for a year and a half before I was on to the next adventure in Dubai where I launched a Management Consultancy.

I then co-founded Mountbase three years ago whilst living in Dubai, working on it part time in the background until going full time at the end of last year back in London. Since then I’ve taken on the role as Chief Strategy Officer.

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

So cliché to say every day is different as a founder but it’s so true!

Typically I start my day at 6:30am when I walk my cocker spaniel Arla (she’s a VIP at Mountbase), and once I get to the office we always have standup. As we are a small team, I think it’s so important to start the day together.

After stand up my day-to-day changes a lot, but usually includes strategy meetings, creative calls with our content creators, networking and researching potential content creators.

My favourite days though are always our shoot days! We work with so many cool entrepreneurs and business professionals, I learn so much from them.

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

A lot of my time is spent travelling across London on shoots which is impossible to do remotely. The rest of my job can easily be done remotely but I always prefer to be around the team in the office, we’re able to bounce ideas off each other and be more creative!

Even though I’m not a huge routine person, I try to keep in the same routine no matter where I’m working that day.

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

At Mountbase we say LIFE-work balance because it is one of the most important things we work towards with our team. We recently closed the office for a week ahead of the Jubilee weekend to give everyone a well-deserved summer holiday.

However, every founder knows it is almost impossible to switch off your brain at the end of the day, so I have a rule not to speak about work in the evening (this proves difficult when my fiancé is also my co-founder!).

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

I’ve started walking a lot more this past year.

I try to incorporate walking into my daily activities like getting off the tube one stop before my usual stop, walking meetings (when the weather is nice) and walking on the spot when I clean my teeth.

I’m also working on improving my efficiency so I actually run down the corridors in the office to save time, the other offices probably think I’m crazy!

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

I may be biassed, but my favourite podcast is the Mountbase podcast!

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

In typical millennial fashion I can’t live without my phone. I’m naturally very disorganised so I keep all my calendar events on my phone to keep my day on track.

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

Honestly my co-founder, business partner and fiancé. He is such a huge inspiration to me!  

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

Steve Jobs once said “If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time” and I remind myself of this every day. No one truly knows the ups and downs you go through as a founder, but that hard work will all 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.