HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Jo Bean, Chief People Officer at Cushon

Jo Bean is the Chief People Officer at Cushon, a fintech workplace savings and pension business to help people get comfortable with saving and investing.

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

My career background for the last 20 years has been working in three companies – Samsung Electronics for the UK & Ireland, Thomsons Online Benefits (Darwin) for the last four and half years and now at Cushon since Jan 22.

I held various roles at Samsung, including some time specialising in Reward but largely generalist roles at all levels. At Darwin I was their Head of People and am now Chief People Officer at Cushon, a fintech workplace pension and savings provider.

I am genuinely excited about the tech world and also have a passion for pensions and helping people save for life after work (retirement sounds boring right!) so Cushon is the perfect place for me – a great Fintech helping people get comfortable with saving earlier, offering the world’s first net zero pension and with a dedicated and great team of people! 

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

Everyday life has changed quite a lot after COVID, before I was probably four days in the office and one day at home but now, I spread office and home depending on what I have on!

Either going to the office or working from home, the day starts the same way with a walk with my dog before everyone else in the house gets up! I do like being in the fresh air and walking around to start my day. Then back for breakfast, sort the kids out and get them off to school and then it’s time to commute into the office (about an hour) or walk down (30 seconds) to my garden room where I have a desk setup. 

The day either in the office or at home will start with checking my emails and to-do list and then getting started with the calls/meetings for the day – with hybrid working I am often on zoom as we have people all over the country.

As well as meeting as many people at Cushon as I can, I am also working on researching a new HR system, working on organisational structures, looking at our benefits offering and employment contracts as well as supporting our people with development plans to help their learning journeys. 

I tend to be a lunch at 12.01 kind of person so after eating lunch (and if I am at home taking my dog for a quick walk) then I tend to work on some planning after lunch – I try and be organised and writing down everything I need to do – something very satisfying about ticking things off my to do list!

If I am in the office then I normally have meetings booked with people – depending on which office I am in and what is going on that week – also arranging for our monthly All Hands meeting to make sure we are communicating with our people and letting them all know what is topical right now. In a hybrid world these meetings are even more important than ever!

I like to end each day with 5 minutes of learning, and we have just launched a new 5 Mins learning platform for all of our people, which means there is bite-sized content to watch, and I want to make sure I learn something new every day!

As well as that, it’s rounding off the day with a quick scan of my notepad/diary for the next day to make sure I have captured down everything I need to do before going home and spending some time with the kids. 

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

I truly believe you lead by example – we are very flexible in our ways of working, we have offices and you can go in when you would like to but also you can work from home/remotely too.

Team meet ups are always best in person but if you need some quality quiet focus time then being at home really provides that for me. Working from home saves me 2 hours a day in commuting time as well so if it’s busy and lots to do then 2 hours more work helps get that work done! 

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

Work life balance is especially important to me – I am a firm believer in when you are home after work you are home (no work) and when you are at work then you are working in those hours!   It doesn’t mean I am not checking my emails on my phone here and there but unless it’s urgent then it can wait until tomorrow.

I heard a quote that resonated with me recently – you can always be replaced at work but never at home (it’s so true!) so I have to make sure I am there for my kids but also for things that need to be done every day – there is no-one cooking for us in our house so if you want to eat then it has to get cooked!

Also, when you are on holiday you are away and not working whilst there! For me, the most important thing is trust – if you trust someone to work on what they need you will feel rewarded when they do – they don’t need to be always present in an office to work hard and deliver amazing results! 

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

I think post pandemic my outlook has changed, and I enjoy being at home more, but I am also loving getting the energy from people when I am in the office. I am passionate about sharing the best practice for our people and making sure that they have access to everything they need to be brilliant at work and in their home life!

I also try to make sure we communicate as much as possible for our people as they are not getting as much interaction as perhaps they did pre-pandemic. This can be done by Slack messages, checking in with people more often and just in general being as open as possible but enjoying time together when we are in the office! 

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

I tend to use the commute time to listen to podcasts, sadly they are nothing too highbrow or educating, mainly comedy and interviews – so Adam Buxton for interviews, Athletico Mince for complete crazy English football comedy or Tailenders for my love of cricket! 

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

I can’t be without my phone (although I take ages to reply to messages!) and I also love my Fit Bit to make sure I hit my 10,000 steps a day. And of course, my Cushon App to check my pension and ISA performance whenever I want to! I am also a Twitter person as my go to for social media! 

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

My favourite author is Bill Bryson and I think to read how he managed to travel for his book writing as well as working/having his family would be an interesting read – especially when he was first starting out! 

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

I think you have to work hard on work life balance – and it’s always a juggling act – but when the scales tip into the wrong side then you have to balance it out and be mindful of the scales tipping again. It’s important to keep your mind open to everything and resist the temptation to always get everything done in a day – it’s just never possible so why kid yourself that it is! 

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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.