Balancing the Grind with Jessica Walker, Investment Associate & Community Manager at Black Nova Venture Capital

Jessica Walker is an Investment Associate & Community Manager at Black Nova VC, a Sydney-based early-stage venture capital firm.

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

From a very young age, I have always been into startups and understanding how business works. At 11 I was selling chocolate bars on the school bus, throughout high school and university I trialled a few e-commerce stores.

When I was 22 I started my first business, a short-term services property management company in NZ. I ran the company for 2 and a half years before being acquired by a company in the UK.  I now work at Black Nova VC, an early-stage Venture Capital firm in Sydney. 

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

A typical day in my life starts at 5:30 am with a gym session, a walk along the Coastal track in Coogee with a good podcast, or a chat with a friend, followed by a (very) quick dip in the ocean before starting work. 

In lockdown that meant walking to the desk in my room, outside of locko, it’s in the heart of Surry Hills in Sydney. The day usually consists of a morning meeting with the Black Nova VC team to run through goals and priorities then 3 or so pitch meetings from founders, (definitely the best part of my job), working with the existing portfolio, conducting Due Diligence on companies we are interested in learning more about and much more. We have a great work-life balance at Black Nova, it helps that I love my job and love to see and hear about new startups all day everyday. 

The day would end with one of a few things, home-walk-dinner-bed or a startup event, or a cheeky wine and dinner with a friend. 

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

Lockdown has really made companies adapt quickly to remote working and luckily for me I work in a very supportive environment.

Earlier this year I needed to be back in NZ for a couple of weeks. Those two weeks quickly turned into being stuck in NZ for 4 months thanks to lockdown. The team didn’t even bat an eyelid and work was BAU. 

I love the flexibility that work provides. Last year my colleague and I went to Tasmania and worked from a van (WFV) for a week, it was magic!

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

When I was younger it seemed normal to work really long hours, often for little reward and eventually burn out which is exactly what I did. After that I reviewed what was really important in my life and the better the work-life balance is, the more productive, happy and healthy I am.  

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

The basics of doing a minimum of 10,000 steps a day and I always try to do that at sunrise. There are much fewer people out and about and you have a little time to yourself before giving all your energy away. 

The other one I have started is using the Pomodoro Method when working. It’s been tough for everyone to stay 100% motivated while working from home and having lockdown fatigue.

The method is a timed 25-minute burst of deeply focussed work, no distractions. After each round, you reward yourself with a cup of tea or water. After 4 rounds you have a longer break. Really helps with procrastinating and setting mini-goals throughout the day. 

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

 All very much startup related

  • This Week in Startups – Jason Calacanis. He gives you the low down on everything startup related for that week
  • How I Built This – Guy Raz. He interviews Founders and CEOs of now-massive companies and you learn about how they started. Very inspiring. 
  • She’s on the Money – Victoria Devine. Victoria is incredible, she is basic financial literacy aimed at women and is SO needed. 

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

Spotify for sure. There is nothing like a great song to transport you to different places. 

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

 I would like to say from Steve Jobs or Elon Musk but I have heard they were all work and that is not particularly what I aspire to. Tim Ferriss would be excellent to hear from, he did write The 4-Hour Workweek after all. 

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

I have been adjusting my thoughts on what work-life balance means to me, particularly over the last year. 

I always thought while you are young you should work yourself to the bone, save, invest and suffer. Recently a close friend of mine passed away before he was 30. This has changed the way I look at life, it’s meant to be lived to the fullest and that means adjusting your work to meet your life, not the other way around.

I am getting to know myself and know that I give 100% of myself when working which means I can fully focus on other things that make my life fulfilling at other times. I am still finding that perfect balance but I am certainly finding ways to work smarter not harder to achieve this. You could be hit by a bus tomorrow (hope not) don’t forget to live first. 

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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.