Ian Yip is the founder & CEO at Avertro, a venture-backed global cybersecurity software company, launched out of the Antler program.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m the founder and CEO of Avertro, a venture-backed cybersecurity software company based out of Sydney, Australia.
I’ve spent 20 years in the cybersecurity industry and have held a variety of leadership, advisory, strategy, sales, marketing, product management, and technical roles across Asia Pacific and Europe in some of the world’s leading companies including McAfee, Ernst & Young, and IBM.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
In my current role, it’s critical that I’m adaptable and can figure things out quickly. Each day is very different due to the nature of being a founder.
My day typically involves working across our product, engineering, support, customer success, sales, marketing, quality assurance, security, research, finance, operations, administration, and legal functions.
The busiest day I had in the week that just went by started at 6:30am. I went for a morning walk and was back by 7:30am for my first meeting of the day, which was with a US venture firm. It was followed by an internal product management meeting, a briefing for an industry analyst, and two customer meetings.
After a quick lunch break, I spoke with a university to help them with a research project, met with a channel partner, had an internal team meeting, met with a potential customer, and helped another entrepreneur with some questions they were wrestling with.
Post my dinner break, it was on to a two-hour founder forum session where we spent time discussing wins and helped each other with our challenges.
I spent the rest of the evening working through emails and administrative tasks to ensure I could start the next day with a clean inbox. I get a kick out of having an empty inbox because it helps clear my mind, allowing me to start fresh and rejuvenated each day.
I should point out that not every day is like the example I just shared. But I do enjoy my work, which is why I can maintain the energy to keep going even on the longer days. I’m driven by our purpose and mission, which is why I don’t ever feel like I’m on the proverbial treadmill of work.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
While we have an office, most of our team chooses to work remotely. I’ve always been one that values work-life integration, meaning I will work when it makes sense to, and handle life-related activities as they happen.
At Avertro, our focus is on delivering results and outcomes on time. How and when individuals decide they need to work to meet their commitments is up to them.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance for me is about integration. Provided things get done on time and to the quality required, everyone should be empowered to determine the how, when, and where for themselves.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve tried to wake up earlier to get a faster start to my day. Now, I almost always wake up before my alarm. I still set it, however, to ensure I don’t miss any morning commitments.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
One of my favourite books is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. It made a big impact on me when I first read it and influenced my approach to many things in my personal and professional life.
I also listen to the How I Built This podcast hosted by Guy Raz. It’s great for learning about how entrepreneurs and business leaders worked their way to success, including many of the challenges encountered along the way.
I sometimes find it therapeutic because hearing the stories helps validate that everyone has their ups and downs, and that there is no such thing as an overnight success in business.
At Avertro, we’ve recently launched our own podcast series called Reboot Cyber where we speak with our guests about effective cybersecurity leadership.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I’m not much of a gadget person. If I have my laptop and phone, I’m happy. As far as apps go, I use LinkedIn, Twitter, WhatsApp, Slack, Mail, Calendar, and YouTube on a daily basis.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Satya Nadella. While he doesn’t run a startup, what he’s done with that company since he took over as CEO is remarkable. It would be interesting to see how he balances all the professional pressures with other things in his life.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
At face value, I may not be the typical reference point for work-life balance. While I do try to not spend every waking hour working, it’s difficult as a founder to get the ideal balance. What keeps me going is the real sense of purpose in our mission.
It does mean however, that I must be extremely aware of my mental state and disciplined about taking time out when I need it. The way I look at it, as long as I maintain my mental health, I will remain balanced in my own way.
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