Biz Dev & Sales / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Helena Softley, Senior Sales Manager at WP Engine

Helena Softley is the Senior Sales Manager at WP Engine Australia, a WordPress technology company headquartered in Austin, Texas.

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

I started off in digital marketing around six years ago as an account manager and worked my way up to leadership, leading a team of 15. I then decided to take a step back before moving to WP Engine. 

I joined WP Engine as an Account Manager, this turned out to be the best decision I made for my career and development. Gradually I progressed into Senior Sales Manager and work with an incredible team of talented individuals.

As part of my current role, I look after all the sales in the APAC region and support my team to succeed. Overall, it’s a pretty exciting role!

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

Work is usually quite hectic and versatile, with no two days looking alike. That being said, most of my time is spent providing feedback to the team and supporting them through any issues they might have.

A big component of being a leader is listening and problem solving, working with the team to find solutions to any hurdle they may be facing. 

Then there are other activities I do day-to-day such as training and development which is interesting and quite fulfilling. I love watching my team succeed in their roles. 

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

Work-life balance means being able to enjoy your job as much as you enjoy your personal time.

I believe work-life balance should be a number one priority and I actively promote that across my team. You spend most of your waking time at work and with your colleagues, though you need to enjoy your personal life, because what’s the point of having a job if you can’t enjoy what it brings to you?

My general rule for both me and my team is, not to work past your usual hours. Obviously, sometimes we need to make allowances, especially if you have a deadline, but if you’re struggling to get your tasks done in your normal work day, I would encourage speaking with your manager or team to help. 

As part of my leadership style, I am a huge advocate for work life balance. My team will tell you that I will cheekily tell them off if they are online after 6pm or on holidays unless it’s an emergency. I try to lead by example too and not email the team questions out of hours to keep them off emails. 

In my personal time, I make an effort to exercise nearly every day, whether it be walking or going to the gym – it’s really important, especially for mental health. While technology is useful, it’s also unhealthy to always be on your phone looking at work-related messages and emails. There are times where we need to step away and focus on yourself or time with your family.

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

In the past year, I made a commitment to do more exercise and have more clear boundaries to support my work-life balance. I have implemented a no email and slack policy on my phone at weekends and evenings.

At WP Engine, we also have several initiatives which I’ve been involved in. For example, we have a Wellable app that encourages us to earn points through exercise and to engage in activities that promote mental health. It’s excellent for someone competitive like me because you can compete with your peers across countries. 

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

As you can imagine, I spend a lot of time in my work hours learning and developing, so when I do get time outside of work to decompress, I like to listen to different topics such as true crime, one of my favourite podcasts to listen to is My Favourite Murder by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark – it’s my favourite true crime podcast!

Katherine Ryan’s podcast, Telling Everybody Everything is also great. She’s a comedian, and when she talks about her day to day life, it feels like you are having a chat with a friend. 

I also love reading. The most recent book I finished was Cat Lady by Dawn O’Porter, one of my favourite authors. 

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

Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, an organisation aimed at increasing the number of women in computer science and closing the gender gap.  

I love listening to her because she’s a huge advocate for women’s empowerment, specifically parents and parental leave. I think she would have some good insights to share.

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

Life is short, so do what makes you happy!

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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.