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Balancing the Grind with Jennifer Mumford, Director, People & Culture, US and New Markets at Zip Co

Jennifer Mumford is the Chief of Staff to the CHRO at Zip Co, a leading global Buy Now, Pay Later (BNPL) company providing fair and seamless solutions that simplify how people pay.

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

I am currently the Chief of Staff to our CHRO at Zip Co, a high growth, $6B+ ASX-listed fintech (ASX:Z1P), and lead the People & Culture teams across US and our New Markets (Canada, Mexico, UK, UAE). 

Prior to this, I led and built the foundations of the People & Culture teams at Data Republic (acquired) and SafetyCulture, a unicorn ($2B) venture capital funded tech scale-up, growing the team three-fold in <2 years.

Earlier in my career, I was a Senior Consultant in Deloitte’s management consulting practice, solving crunchy people problems across a diverse range of industries.

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

My typical ‘day in the life’ has changed up this year since I started leading our People & Culture teams for our US and New Markets at Zip.

I’m up around 4.00 am. I am guilty of checking Slacks and emails when I wake, but timeboxed for 15-20 minutes before doing ~30 mins of stretches and yoga.

I try to capitalise on the 4 hour overlap with our New York executives (5.00 – 9.00 am) then my AU day starts.

Where possible I try to take AU meetings as walking sessions and always have a break around midday for some more heavy duty HIIT exercise. I used to love going to a gym class, but now during lock down it’s all at home.

Afternoons are for team 1:1s at the start of the week and deep work at the back end of the week.

The evenings are for hanging out with my partner. He’s a very good cook, but I try to cook a few nights a week. We’ll then chill out over Netflix, Amazon, AppleTV and on the best nights a bath to decompress before an early bedtime.

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

Yes to both. My ideal state is a mix of 1-2 days of deep work at home and the rest in the office with our people and leaders. At the moment given I’m in SYD supporting US, UK, Canada and Mexico teams I guess I’m fully remote, but that will be changing soon as I’m relocating to NYC at the end of September.

I’ve never worked flexibly before COVID, but now I can’t see a world without it. Flex better builds work into the flow of people’s lives. It’s the next normal.

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

I’m not a fan of the term ‘work-life balance’ as it suggests we should all be striving for a perfect equilibrium. I like to think of it more in the context of energy. 

How are you managing your energy? What drains and what refills? I strive to be hyper aware of what drains me and where possible avoiding, teaming up with someone who does not find it draining or coupling it shortly after with things that re-energise me. 

I am a big fan of running hard at something (working 12+ hour days) but then regularly taking an extra long weekend, to recover and get time back. This used to be going to a different country, but more recently has been taking it easy, sleep-ins and spending time outside.

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

  • Started: Running (built up using Apple Fitness+); adding yoga into my mornings
  • Stopped: Attending meetings with no agenda or where I wasn’t integral to the outcome.

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

I consume a lot across tech, leadership and people space:

  • Books: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life, Culture Code, Trillion Dollar Coach, Radical Candor, Moments of Impact, I could go on forever
  • Podcasts: InDepth by First Round Review, Equity by TechCrunch, Pivot by NYMag, Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
  • Newsletters: HungLee recruitment brainfood, First Round Review, TechCrunch daily, Spotify HR Blog, TheGrand.world newsletter

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

I’m not sure if I should be proud or embarrassed about the below:

  • Zip app (of course!) and virtual card. I use it everyday ‘tapping and zipping’ from my digital wallet
  • Slack and WhatsApp. Love being able to message my global team and friends at any time of the day
  • Les Mills training app. Lots of good on demand gym glasses
  • Spotify. For all the podcasts and cooking music on Saturday nights!
  • Theragun. Massage gun to relieve pain and reduce muscle soreness. A dream before going to bed
  • Magnesium before going to sleep every night [JS Health has a good blend].

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

I’d love to hear from an elite athlete (perhaps olympian or paralympian) how they find balance with their high performance training schedule, but also need for recovery and finding time for life outside of their area of expertise.

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

I say to my team, what are the top 1-2 priorities for you every week? Put a rock in your diary and relentlessly protect it. It’s ok to decline a meeting and say no if there’s a conflict. I’ve also been known to have them set personal KPIs around wellness. Always good for goal driven people. 

You have to put your own oxygen mask on first. 

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.