Balancing the Grind with Harrison Byrnes, Business Analyst at AgUnity

Harrison Byrnes is a Business Analyst at AgUnity, a global technology platform that empowers the thousands of organizations working to address UN SDGs.

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

I was lucky enough to get an internship at a large engineering consultancy during my final year of studying civil engineering and commerce which later turned into a grad job. 

I spent five years at this company working in a team that did a lot of infrastructure planning and advisory which involved me doing a lot of demand assessments (e.g. how many people are going to use this potential piece of infrastructure), economic assessments (e.g. what environmental, social & financial impact will it have) and financial modelling (e.g. how much will it cost / will it make money).

The work was interesting, but I was keen to experience working in a smaller company and for it to have an impactful focus. I came across AgUnity and reached out to Angus, the COO, and ended up agreeing to start doing some work with the team on a part time basis. We weren’t fully clear on what my role would be at the start apart from building a financial model for potential investors but gradually we worked out how best I could add value to the company. 

I’ve been full time now for 18 months, working mostly on business development & investor relations which involves looking for potential partners and funding sources, designing projects that help to validate our business model and communicating our impact to stakeholders.

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

I now live in the UK and although AgUnity has people all over the world, the majority of the team I work with are located in Australia, so my workday usually starts around 6am. I usually break my workday up into three blocks with breaks in between:

  • 6am – 8.30am: Block 1 – Internal calls, identify any key tasks that need to be completed that day and make sure I have all the information required to complete them before my team members log off for the day.
  • 30 mins break: Breakfast, etc.
  • 9am – 11.30am: Block 2 – Try to complete one or two of the most important tasks for the day. Could be a grant application or some piece of work a colleague is waiting on.
  • 11.30am – 2pm: Go for a long walk or run, lunch, etc.
  • 2pm – 5pm: Block 3 – More creative work, thinking about strategy, reaching out to potential partners.
  • 5pm – 6pm: Read a book
  • Dinner, hockey training / coaching or watch something on Netflix, usually in bed by 9.30pm.

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

I want to be waking up and looking forward to each day. That doesn’t always happen, but I think making sure I’m allocating time to anything outside of work I want to be doing helps (e.g. exercising, socialising, reading, learning about anything not directly related to work that I’m interested in). I work from home and I don’t have kids, so I have it easier than most when trying to make time for non-work activities.

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

Each day I’ll aim to read a book for an hour, meditate for 10 mins (using the Waking Up app) and go for a long walk while listening to a podcast. I probably do those things on 60-70% of workdays.

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

I listen to a lot of podcast episodes from Tim Ferris, Sam Harris or the 80,000 Hours podcast. Most of the books I read come from recommendations from those podcasts. The Origins Podcast and Daniel and Jorge Explain the Universe are good for learning about cosmology which I always find interesting. How Good’s Footy and Tailenders are sporting based comedy podcasts which I listen to weekly as well.

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

Not sure, maybe Janna Levin.

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

I think just regularly thinking about what you find interesting and then trying to align your work with that as much as possible is a good strategy.

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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.