Jessica Robinson is the author of Financial Feminism: A Woman’s Guide to Investing for a Sustainable Future.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I like to think I have had at least 4 or 5 careers, I certainly have a fairly eclectic background which I think makes me good at what I do now! I have worked for a politician, in public affairs, as a management consultant, for governments and regulators, I have run a think tank and my own company.
At the same time, I have spent most of my adult life living and working overseas – from London to New York, Beijing to Hong Kong and now Dubai. I am now what is probably best described as an expert and advisor in sustainable finance and responsible investment.
I also recently published my first book called Financial Feminism – but I like to think that the work I do on female financial empowerment is more of a hobby, as opposed to a career!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I have a very bad habit of working most days of the week. As a single mother of three children, I need quite a lot of flexibility to fit it all in and ensure I am available for when the kids need me. I wake up early to clear off some emails and then get the children up – my elder two are teenagers so that is always a fun morning challenge!
Every day varies depending on client meetings and other commitments (I am on lots of advisory boards etc) but I always take time out to exercise as this helps keep me sane. If I need to write, either an article or client report, I do this either early in the day or late in the evening when I am not interrupted. I secretly enjoy late night writing.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Fortunately, my current client has allowed the project to be delivered remotely – the client is based in Saudi Arabia, so I am grateful that I have been able to work from home and have not had to travel.
Over the years my roles have invariably required me travelling, particularly when I was based in Asia as they were always head of region type roles. I used to love the adventure and excitement of travelling but less so as I get older. It takes its toll – physically and mentally.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Historically I have not done a great job at achieving a good work life balance – in part this is my own fault. I work in sustainability and climate change – and I am very passionate about the work I do – I always have a sense that the clock is ticking and we need to be doing more today to bring about a better tomorrow.
Hence, in a way, the work can never stop. But I also realise I should not be a martyr about it – so I am conscious of how important it is to be focused on quality time with my children. But even more importantly than that – to take care of myself.
This is largely why I take time out of every day to exercise – it’s quite meditative for me. I also enjoy a couple of glasses of wine in the evening.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I am working with an amazing coach who helps keep me on track – she is teaching me to be more accepting of myself, to undo learned behaviours that are not really serving me well.
It’s a continual journey and each week I am understanding myself better, learning new skills and growing as a person. Taking this time out to work with someone on my own is very important to me. I am a huge proponent of coaching and self-development.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I am such a nerd – I love the FT and read the online edition and listen to their daily podcasts. I read a lot of industry newsletters but rarely do I read a novel – to my mum’s dismay!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Spotify is my must have. I am really into music – especially house / EDM – so this is how I tap into what the latest DJs are up to. There are so many talented music producers and DJs out there – Spotify has democratised access to their talent. And I love to listen to new tracks when I am running.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I love reading about women who have forged amazing careers (and by this I mean – in terms of their impact, not in terms of title or money) alongside nurturing a happy family. Even more so if they have done it on their own.
Solo parenting is on another level – I love it but it takes agility and skill to keep all the balls in the air! It can also be a lonely gig so I enjoy hearing about the stories of others.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I try to find a moment each day to sit still, to pause, to observe – even if only for 30 secs. Just to breathe and be present. It sounds kind of naff but that grounding helps me be more productive.
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