Balancing the Grind with Janine Davison, Head of Careers at VALD

Janine Davison is the Head of Careers at VALD, a world leader in musculoskeletal assessment and rehabilitation technologies.

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

When I was 18, I was predictably looking for adventure, so I spontaneously joined the Australian Army. I fell in love with the training, the culture, the camaraderie, and the discipline. I soon climbed the ranks with my roles centering around the administrative governance, individual and deployment readiness of units and the well-being of soldiers in the units I served in.  

After 19 years and an incredible career filled with operational deployments in various environments, countless postings and two children along the way, I knew it was time to create a little more stability for myself and my growing family. 

I’m now fortunate to be the Head of Careers at VALD. VALD are world leaders in musculoskeletal technology for performance, allied health, and tactical professionals. VALD has grown to a team of over 180 across 19 countries, with three offices across Australia, the UK and USA.

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

My day starts around 4.30am, slightly later on the weekend. I am grateful for my experience in the military, as it honed my self-discipline to dial-in a morning routine to get the most out of my day. 

I start my day by taking my dog for a run or to the gym. From there, the usual rush of being a mum to two busy kids unfolds – preparing their lunches, discussing what’s on for the day, and getting everyone off to where they need to be. 

Once I arrive at the VALD HQ we are incredibly fortunate to have two in-house chefs who cook us breakfast, lunch and snacks. Meal times at the VALD HQ are where I get a lot of my collaboration done.

Over a meal, I can chase up interview feedback, share the progress of roles, or agree to set up some time for deeper discussions on hiring requirements. I love the spontaneous nature of how productive you can be at meal times. I am fortunate to work with so many wonderful and bright people across many disciplines that I am always learning something. 

With VALD’s growth ambitions, recruiting is my primary focus. Most of my days are filled with communicating with candidates, conducting or facilitating in-person interviews with various hiring teams depending on the role; or doing virtual calls with our global candidates.

I usually block out some time every few days to reassess our hiring needs, close off jobs and start researching requirements for new roles. Onboarding is also a big priority, as managing our new hires to ensure they get the best experience is a key priority for my role. 

Once I get home in the afternoon, I prepare dinner for my family, which is a real love of mine, while my husband usually helps with my children’s homework; or we may be out for sports training sessions depending on the season. 

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

I don’t think there is someone out there who has it completely balanced. I’m getting better at asking for help, a collaborative approach to life’s tasks where needed. My children are now at an age where you can discuss competing commitments, and we try to come up with solutions. 

I map out non-negotiables like homework, dinners and sporting commitments for my children in my calendar – as interviews across multiple-time zones can quickly overlap. I often have evening calls to work with our global candidates, so communication is vital across the family to let them know if I am working after dinner, for example. 

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

I stopped drinking alcohol over 12 months ago. Whilst it initially wasn’t a permanent choice, my mental clarity, increased patience and presence around my children was an incredible side effect.

It taught me alternative coping mechanisms that didn’t circle around pouring a drink. Whilst I wouldn’t say I was a heavy drinker, I have grown to love the benefits and can’t imagine incorporating alcohol into my life again. 

I’ve also started doing some inner-work. Creating space in my day to journal, reflect and set intentions, it’s been incredibly powerful for me to incorporate and I wish I had started this practice sooner. 

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

Books worthy of mentioning: 

  • This Working Life by Lisa Leong & Monique Ross 
  • The Authority Gap by Mary Ann Sieghart
  • The Leader Who Had No Title by Robin Sharma 
  • Essentialism by Greg McKeown 

At the Table by Patrick Lencioni is a favourite – I look forward to new episodes each week.

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

This is a hard one to answer. I am really in admiration of a lot of people in my life already – the working mothers, single parents and all in all the everyday people out there hustling to provide for their families while contributing to something. 

A fond memory of mine when I was a young soldier was an evening on duty involving an overnight shift in a security outpost, ensuring the barracks remained secure and the phones remained supervised. Nothing too riveting as you can imagine, on a suburban Army base on a weeknight. 

A fellow colleague of mine accompanied me, and he pulled out a bag of school uniforms, which he started ironing, to put into his car later. He had three kids at home, his wife working full-time, and instead of just watching TV to occupy an otherwise eventless night, he did his bit to contribute to his family’s needs to return home the following day. Now that I’m a parent, I reflect on how admirable that was. Do what you can, with what you have—leading by example. 

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

Trying to carve out time in the work week for yourself. You’ll be a better human for it, and won’t feel so depleted.

If you can find a role where your cup is filled by the work you do – you’ve found the golden ticket. Don’t settle for a job you don’t get something out of. Work should be challenging but should also bring joy and a feeling of purpose.

I am in awe of the Japanese concept of “Ikigai”, which is finding something at the intersection of what you love, the world needs, what you can get paid for, and what you are good at. Everyone should go home feeling they contributed.

If you don’t feel that, take some time to reassess what you want out of your career because life is too short. If you don’t have balance, ask what’s important now? How can I make a difference? That usually makes things pretty clear.  

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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.