Balancing the Grind with Jorja Cooper, People & Culture Manager at Camilla Australia

Jorja Cooper is the People & Culture Manager at Camilla Australia, a fashion brand founded in 2004 in Sydney’s Bondi Beach by designer and artist Camilla Franks.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

Before jumping into the world of HR I spent most of my time in fashion retail management. I wasn’t the most studious school student so wasn’t sure where my career would or could go when I was in high school.

I was lucky to be inspired by some incredible colleagues (and now close friends) who encouraged me to study HR. I studied full time and worked full time for a gruelling 3 years, and landed my first HR job while in my 2nd year of uni. 

I spent a few years in HR in the hospitality industry first in clubs and then fine dining restaurants before jumping into the world of consulting. Consulting was fun and exciting and always kept me on my toes but I was craving a routine and a consistent team around me which led me to my current role of People & Culture Manager at CAMILLA. I couldn’t have found a better place to land, I’m very blessed to work with a great team and wider business, the culture really is like no other.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I love to start my morning early which alternates between either some form of exercise or a coffee in bed with my partner. I’ve always needed that time to digest the morning before heading to work, it makes me feel like I’m getting the most out of my days.

I live close-ish to our office, which I generally work out of 4 days a week, so I have a 45 minute walk to listen to some podcasts (I just binged Catfish which was a truly great trashy listen!) or listen to music.

My workday is always varied, but always involves speaking with other people within the business, this could be creating and implementing policies, advising best practice approaches to tricky situations or looking at ways to improve processes and procedures.

It’s really one of the things I love about working in HR and especially working in a more generalised role, I love the structure that comes with policies and procedures but the connections and relationships, the quick touches with all areas of the business keeps me excited.

I’m usually out the door not long after 5pm and enjoy my walk back home, usually at a slower pace than the morning walk.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

I think work-life balance really is different for everyone depending on their circumstances and a ‘what works for them’ approach. I have always appreciated being able to manage my own time and ensure work doesn’t infringe on my personal life, so whenever I was working in roles that cut into my time I would make an effort to recognise why and make the adjustments needed to get that time back.

For a period this meant attending F45 classes at 5am to ensure I had that time to myself before my day started and meant I wasn’t frustrated when I had to work a longer day to get things done and missed my class.

I don’t want to be someone who is seen to always be too busy or always working. In my career I’ve appreciated leaders who know the importance of work-life balance and ensure they set an example for their team. I once reported to a COO who worked well into the night but always scheduled her emails to drop in your inbox after 8am the next day – it’s little things like that that make a big impact on your team.

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

While I love routines I do find a need to mix them up pretty frequently. I mentioned above I was going to F45 classes, and I did those for about 2 years. I recently changed to reformer pilates classes because I found I was feeling a bit stagnant.

I cycle through food routines pretty similarly and mix it up depending on what makes sense for that time period and the day ahead. Moving my body and eating nourishing food always makes me feel balanced.

In the work space, I’ve kept pretty consistent routines. I’ve always worked in businesses that operate outside of just the 9-5 and always on weekends so emails in those hours are pretty common, it’s really tempting to check and respond outside of my working hours if i receive something.

I don’t stop my notifications coming through but I do read and digest the email when I have time so I don’t feel overwhelmed by my inbox on Monday mornings. I also keep my inbox as my to-do list, every email gets filed once actioned. My first HR manager taught me this and it’s been instrumental in keeping on top of my to-do list and making sure I don’t miss an email.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

I’ll always preach Atomic Habits by James Clear, a really great book. And I love listening to the ‘This Working Life’ podcast. I browse LinkedIn throughout the day and stumble across great articles being shared that I take the time to read.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Work can be so much of our lives, and there is no reward at the end for being burnt out or overworked but it is up to us to recognise when the balance is not where it needs to be and make the changes. Work-life balance is a funny term, I think we need to reshape the phrase or mindset for what makes sense for us individually, and of course, it’s easier to have balance when you work a job you love!

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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.