CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Julie Lindenberg, CEO for APAC at Cogo

Julie Lindenberg is the CEO for APAC at Cogo, a company that provides carbon footprint management products that enable individuals and businesses to measure, understand and reduce their impact on the climate.

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

I work in the digital banking and carbon emissions industry. Creating awesome customer experiences in this space is why I do what I do. I am currently CEO of the APAC region at carbon footprint management experts Cogo.

Tasked with building Cogo’s reputation as a category leader in climate solutions, I’m building a cross-disciplinary team that will empower millions of businesses and consumers to understand their carbon footprint and how they can take action to reduce and offset their impact.

I’m passionate about the power of collective change and the fact that we can all take steps to lower our carbon footprint and move the sustainability conversation forward – individually and together. Having worked in senior roles in some of the most innovative brands in the fintech and banking sectors, my goal is to inspire my teams to achieve audacious goals.

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

I get up at 530 every day – before anyone in my house is up. Most mornings, I aim to exercise before the sun rises. This helps me get some endorphins going; sets up my mindset for the day and, when I exercise with others, is a great way to create meaningful connection. 

I also scan my phone really quickly in the morning for anything urgent so that when I do sit down to work, I know what’s coming and that I’m not surprised. 

I try to minimise focusing my time on what I should eat by eating the same breakfast and pre-preparing healthy lunch meals on a Sunday. This buys me back so much time!

After my husband and children leave for work and school, I usually sit down at my desk around 8 to start my day.

At the beginning of each week, I plan what I want to get done. I usually target three ‘big’ things each day and these feed into my weekly goals. 

I go ‘old school’ and use a paper notebook to plan.

No day is the same – I spend significant time in meetings and on answering emails and Slack messages, although I tend to schedule tasks that require mental ‘heavy lifting’ at my peak productivity times (my ‘sweet spot’) at the beginning and end of the day. 

I am very ‘natural’ in how I approach online meetings. I don’t often blur my screen and I try to show up authentically. I imagine each person right in front of me and we simply ‘have a chat’. 

I usually work through to 6pm, and some nights involve evening meetings because of the global nature of our company. 

I am very transparent with my team – I book my exercise; key moments in my children’s lives like assemblies and sports days; and ‘decompress time’ into my diary so everyone knows where I’m at. 

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

It means simply being able to ‘flex’ in a way that suits my individual life circumstances. It means being able to be there and present – whether that is for work deliverables; or a family occasion. It’s the ability to function optimally across all aspects of life. 

For me, it’s been key to build in downtime and time to ease up. These breaks between intensity help me to process faster; and move into the next thing with a clear head. 

Walking my little dog Phoebe is a favourite way to break up my day; and I also use teamwork sessions as a nice way to alter my pace and have a laugh. 

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

Working at Cogo – a vehement advocate of flexible working – has revolutionised my ability to ‘flex’. In the past, I worked intensively early in the morning every day because I needed to work closely with the US.

Right now, it’s great to be able to manage my time more successfully within our global context. I have set boundaries around when my day starts and ends and where I work beyond these to accommodate global meetings (which is very exciting, but can be tiring), I make sure to schedule these on the same evenings and build in time to recoup. 

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

I give my all when I do something, so I like to remember to energise myself with lots of diverse inspiration like music, comedy and a variety of inspiring podcasts and books. It’s very important to balance our brain’s ‘work’ with ‘play’. I have realised that there is no perfect way to tackle life! We are all on a journey.

A recent read that made me laugh was Confessions of a Forty-Something F**k Up . This book is as irrelevant as the title and its main message is that you need to stop comparing your life to others and find your own way to be healthy and happy as an individual. I love that we’re all on an individual growth journey. Getting rid of false pressures and finding our own way to do life is freeing. 

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

Every person has admirable aspects in terms of the way they manage life. Likewise, every family dynamic is different. I really love getting to know people and applying successful aspects of how they manage their lives to mine. 

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

When you are genuine, life takes less effort because authenticity doesn’t take much effort. Show up, be you, and see the magic happen!

We all go through periods of crazy and feeling burnt out! This isn’t failure – it’s life! It’s important to recognise when you’re feeling this way and have a plan how to work through it. This might include a walk with a friend or a chat to a colleague who you trust. Surrounding ourselves with good people is so important as we do this thing called ‘life’. 

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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.