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Balancing the Grind with Jo-ann Chung, Chief Product Officer at WLTH

Jo-ann Chung is the Chief Product Officer at WLTH, an Australian digital lending and payments platform providing Australians with a smarter, sustainability-focused solution to financial products.

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

I have spent over 22 years in the financial services industry with 16 of those years spent in a product capacity. Ever curious about how the world works and always challenging the ‘why’ has led me to where I am today.

I love creating ‘things’ that help make life easier for people, it is what continues to drive and excite me. Today I am the Chief Product Officer at WLTH,  I have been responsible for the strategy, design, development of the products that WLTH will be bringing to market. 

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

For me it is all about balancing work and family life while ensuring I have enough thinking time to foster creative thought processes.

I have two girls who are very active in extracurricular activities, as a result a typical day for me usually starts with me waking up at 6am every morning to get my kids ready for their day as they usually need to be somewhere by 7am.

I use the time between 7.30am and 9am to review my calendar, prioritise my ‘to do’ list, catch up on emails from overnight and read the news. I like to be prepared for my day and understand what is going on in the world around me.

Being in a startup means that my day is filled with everything from meetings at a strategy level to rolling up my sleeves and developing commercial models, value propositions, roadmaps or whatever is needed at the time.

I really love the variability of my role. I try to do a 3-4km walk in the middle of the day in order to break up my day and get some exercise and fresh air. The afternoon is usually spent juggling work and pick up/drop off duties for my kids at their various activities.

I usually log off by 6pm each day in order for us to have dinner as a family. After the kids go to bed around 9pm, I will often spend an hour or so catching up work activities that require time i.e. reading/reviewing documents etc

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

As I am based in Melbourne, I am a full time remote worker so I work from home. This works really well for me as it allows me to really balance my work and family life. I know that this can be a real challenge for many execs, myself included.

Work can become all consuming and getting the balance right can be really difficult. As you can see from my typical day, remote working has allowed me to better share the parenting duties with my husband and spend more quality time with my children without losing significant amounts of time in the office commute.

With office locations split across many geographies, remote working is well ingrained in our company culture which is what makes it so successful for me.

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

Work-life balance to me is ensuring that I am giving sufficient quality time to both my work and personal life and prioritising being there for the moments that really matter. It also means being present in the moment i.e. not trying to work while spending time with the family or vice versa. 

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

One key change I have made is to no longer have my mobile phone at the dinner table and be more present in the family conversation during dinner.

Since the COVID pandemic I have also made it a habit to try to do a daily 3-4 km walk in the middle of the day as it helps me reset, get some fresh air and even spend some quality time with my husband. This is definitely a habit that I want to try to keep over the longer term.

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

I love watching TED talks, the ability to convey complex topics in a simple and engaging way is something that I continuously strive to improve on. The topics allow me to gain insight on topics that I wouldn’t otherwise engage in and are what then stimulates the creative side to me.

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

Our family sharing calendar is something that I cannot live without, as a self professed organisation queen, it ensures that everyone in our family knows where we need to be and at what time and what is coming up. WIth the complex schedules of everyone in our family, we can’t live without it!

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

Gail Kelly, she made it so far in her career all while bringing up a family. I would be fascinated to know how she did it, what challenges she faced and the trade off she had to make to get there. There is always a human side to every story that we could all learn from.

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

Some people have described balance as being able to multi-tasking but I don’t believe this is how you achieve balance. I believe that balance is all about prioritising the things in your life and making trade offs or choices on what is important to you.

Make sure you understand what is important in your life and then stick to ensuring that these things are treated as a priority. For example, if attending your child’s ballet concert is important then make sure you are there and fully present for it rather than trying to respond to emails while sitting in the audience.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.