CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Jodie Mlikota, Founder & CEO of Gathar

Jodie Mlikota is the founder & CEO of Gathar, Australia’s leading platform for booking amazing private catering experiences.

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

I’m the CEO and co-founder of private chef and catering start-up, Gathar. What started as a university project has become a full time job and now a global brand, with a core team of 14 staff and more than 180 caterers we work with across Australia. We’re currently ramping up for our launch into Los Angeles alongside our US Co-founder, Curtis Stone. 

As far as background, my first ‘real’ job after studying communications at university was managing food and wine festivals. I had a very strong female leader who trained and then trusted me to manage everything from marketing to budgets and all the event logistics. 

Looking back, it was a lot of responsibility for a 21 year old, but it was an incredible learning experience that shaped my future career. I spent the next eight years in events and marketing, working on some awesome international projects and managing national teams. 

In 2012, I joined CQUniversity and helped lead the opening of a new university in Cairns. A few years into the role, I decided to take on some part-time study in innovation and one of my assignments was to create a start-up – that’s where Gathar began. 

In 2018, I took the leap into becoming a full-time founder with Gathar and here we are!

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

I work best in the mornings, so I’m usually logged on by 6.30am, coffee in hand, and start my day with a fresh to-do list. 

We’re currently launching into the US, so when I’m in Australia meetings with the US tend to happen between 7am – 9am, then it’s Australian meetings for the next few hours. 

Afternoons are all about powering through the to-do list. I generally don’t work past 6pm, mostly because I find I’m not productive after that point. 

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

Absolutely. Our team is growing and we now have people working in different countries, so this means finding that balance of flexibility for everyone and making sure we’re together at the right times as a team, whether that’s in person or online. For me, that means I’m either working from home in Cairns, in the office in Brisbane, or in the US.  

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

In all honesty, as a founder I’ll admit I’m not always great at work-life balance but I’m also comfortable with that right now. 

I love the high growth phase Gathar is in and I’m obsessed with the work we do. I’ve always loved working, and even more so now as a founder. 

I know my current work-life balance is not sustainable long term but the good thing is the more the team grows, the more I can handover functions of the business and get more balance back. 

I do make sure I have downtime to recharge and avoid burning out. Often that means less of a social life to really just rest.

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

Startup Daily, This Week in Startups, and the Masters of Scale podcasts (yes, there’s a theme here!)

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

The Pomodoro technique. It’s a game changer. There’s a great Pomodoro Study Timer on YouTube I use on repeat. 

As a team we live in Slack, Notion, and Click-up. Shared Google calendars within the team and also between myself and my husband are also a must. 

I use the notes app on my phone for my personal lists: groceries, house stuff needed (we just moved, so this one is pretty long at the moment!) and birthday presents. The lists go on.

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

Kris Jenner. The Kardashians are polarising, but you’ve got to hand it to them – they know how to get s**t done. 

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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.