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Balancing the Grind with Joy Chua, EVP – Strategy & Development at meldCX

Joy Chua is the EVP – Strategy & Development at meldCX, a software company crafting customer experiences using AI and edge technologies. 

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

Of course. I came from a retail and marketing background starting my roots as front of house in a luxury fashion brand before stepping into a pure marketing role with a small agency. I kind of fell into technology shortly, starting off within and subsequently leading the global marketing at my previous company, AOPEN.

After working on multiple global roles within the group, I was then given the opportunity to help take an executive grassroots role to help establish one of the AOPEN groups key investments, which became meldCX. 

My current role is as EVP – Strategy & Development as meldCX, a solutions based AI and software company crafting customer experiences using AI and edge technologies. 

In this role, I look after a range of portfolios including Product GTM to Internal Operations to Growth Strategy. My primary focus is to create marketing and partnership frameworks which enable our team to continue to lead customers in their digital transformation journey. 

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

A lot of what I do also revolves around problem solving. Be it issues around supply chain management or business outcomes that our partners and/or customers would like addressed – the role means I’m at the forefront of a lot of decision making, delivery and negotiation which I love the challenge of. 

Working in a global team means that there is not really anything like a typical day but I love the pace that our teams work in. 

A work day will usually start off with meeting with our various internal teams to align on tasks for the week or any roadblocks or issues that they are facing with their deliverables. Then I think it’s definitely looking at my Asana board to work and align on various deliverables that I have to hit myself and reprioritising anything that needs to be shifted up and down the board. 

If I can, I squeeze in a couple of meetings, usually from the mid morning to early afternoon as I feel like my headspace is the clearest during this time. 

I also tend to keep internal meetings within 30mins – I’m a huge believer in effective and outcome focused communication. It also helps me as a person be more concise in bringing my points across and coming to a good summary and action points to help the business run. 

Before I wrap up for the day, I usually sit down again to align on what I need to focus on the next day and any new tasks that pop up. I find that when I put things on paper as a list and park it as a “next day worry”, it really helps me compartmentalize and enjoy my night after. 

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

Yes it does! My current role allows me to work from home. It’s great as it allows me to really keep time as fluid as possible and control my tasks be it work or general life admin to a maximum. With some of the items that crop up throughout the workday, it’s great to be able to have flexibility to deal with challenges that can’t be solved within the hour / day. 

I love working flexibly – healthwise [both from a mental and physical standpoint], it allows me to call time when I need to take a breath in the privacy of my own home before tackling the day again. It also allows me to determine what I do to take a breath, whether I duck out from a quick walk to clear my mind, cook a quick meal or just stretch on the balcony. 

I’m sure this is the same for most people but saving on travel time has been amazing as I get to determine what I can do more in that time as well. 

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

I don’t know if we can ever achieve a perfect balance between work and life, striking a balance is very hard! I’ve learnt early on my journey that the best way I deal with striking a balance is to:

  • Set clear boundaries on what is necessary to protect my own well-being 
  • Allocate times where it’s joy at work, joy at home, joy at leisure and be a 100% at all of them 

Times as I mentioned are also very fluid because we work in a global team. There could often be times where we have to be up late for deployments or meetings but I make sure to offset that with time to rest.  

I am also very passionate about keeping at least one day of my weekend as a pure rest day for myself, which is usually a Sunday. This means on this day I make a conscious effort to not touch any emails or read anything on LinkedIn, and instead read a book or spend time with myself or loved ones to recharge. 

Knowing when to say no is also very important, and there are times where I’ve had to learn myself to push back on taking on more or putting my hand up to ask for help. These are important discretionary micro moments that actually have a strong impact on myself and also the team I lead. 

I constantly ask myself questions like “Do I need to be at the meeting?”, “Can my team take this on and just let me know how they went?”, “Can we condense time to get to an outcome so I can return time to everyone?” 

At the end of the day, I also think that part of work life balance as a leader is knowing when to let go and simply guide and trust those in your team to help carry the project forward as well. 

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

I think COVID and the pandemic has definitely changed the way most of us look at life and work in general. I don’t know if anyone can walk away from this season without having any impact or thoughts. 

For myself, it changed the way I look at interaction in general and being more comfortable with the idea of hanging out with myself. During the height of the pandemic and all of Melbourne’s lockdowns, I started to create a “safe space” in the house – a space where I did my meditation, pilates and stretches and where I didn’t bring in any technology devices so that I could focus on my mental and physical health. 

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

One of my favourite books for strategy is Lateral Thinking by Edward De Bono. 

Reading the book has provided me with frameworks on the design thinking approach and new ways to tackle old problems. The book does have some dated references that could be updated with technology e.g. there was no internet when de Bono penned this but the suggestions and techniques are pretty universal. 

I read this book when I took over operations for the business and was in the nuts and bolts of developing a lot of processes. 

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

So many! I am in technology myself so the amount of apps I get exposed to is endless. 

Top of my list however would be: 

  • Asana / Notes on my iPhone for keeping my to-dos 
  • Instagram so I know where to go for the best food 
  • Any Conversation App just to stay in touch with everyone! [Slack, Meets, Signal, Telegram etc] 

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

There are really so many! But if I had to pick it would be Melanie Perkins from Canva

The Canva brand combines everything that I believe in: 

  • Being passionate about your discipline 
  • Honing on the pain point as a professional on what you would like to improve in your industry 
  • Using technology as an enabler to provide a platform for everyone to note experience your pain points 
  • Creating a product that very clearly services this market need and delivers value 

Canva is now a decacorn in the world of equity, one of the few startups making money and also led by Melanie Perkins, an Australian woman who also did communications in University!

Reading how Melanie Perkins started the journey of Canva has been so amazing and is very relatable especially in my current role. I want to know how she does it all. 

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

Know that it’s hard for absolutely everyone. I think that once all of us come from that recognition of life, work and balance we will be more forgiving to ourselves and the people around us if we get it wrong and have the courage to hit the next day with new vigour.

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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.