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Balancing the Grind with Karim Zuhri, Global Head of Product Marketing & Research at SafetyCulture

Karim Zuhri is the Global Head of Product Marketing & Research at SafetyCulture, an Australian startup helping companies achieve safer workplaces through mobile first products.

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

I started my career by developing a strong and broad foundation of business acumen and strategy formulation with 11 years of combined experience in engineering (computer science and energy), product strategy and management consulting roles. 

I visited 71 countries and lived in 7 of them. My multicultural background and love connecting the world through travel led me to join the business travel brand of Expedia Group, where I led a number of global programs to both create a culture of customer obsession and to drive business growth.

To do this, I led a customer-centric global segmentation and customer insights team (spanning over 7 departments) surfacing the voice of customers to the forefront and managed a USD15M+ growth and marketing plan that boosted customer engagement, retention, and growth. 

Today, I lead product marketing & product research for one of the fastest-growing tech scale-ups in Australia, SafetyCulture.

I lead teams and programs focused on a broad range of delivery – from business growth & analysis, market and customer insights, segmentation, pricing, positioning, GTM strategies, and product strategies & research. 

My mantra for leadership is: empower people, guide with data and lead for impact.

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

I believe in putting first things first and the pandemic/remote work helped me further understand that productivity is very strongly connected to my mental health. I start my day at sunrise with a walk by the water.

I feel very lucky to live in the eastern suburbs of Sydney with access to Bronte Beach where I kick off my day. The goal of 15,000 steps starts. I then pick up my gym bag and head up for an hour workout, I read some of the international news on the way and organize my schedule for the day. 

I start my work day around 8/8:30, I go through some team planning and decide the one thing I will heavily focus on during the day. This will be my focus area until midday. This tends to be any of my week days aside from Monday where the morning is often to catch up with the team on the week planning.

Lunch is super important, I make sure I eat healthy with a friend, salads are very often on the menu, followed by a digestive walk and a nice almond latte. 

The afternoon is very often full of short meetings to discuss cross functional programs and align on company initiatives with the different leaders across the business and with the team members.

I make sure two of the afternoon meetings are walk and talk meetings so I add some steps towards my goal as well as diversify my work environment. This helps me get a lot of positive energy and ideas. 

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

The pandemic has been a game changer to a lot of workplaces and proved that remote working improves productivity and not hurts it. We trust our employees to do the best work of their lives and this builds a very nice balance to our days. We are now working from home until further notice. 

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

I don’t draw hard lines between work and personal life, neither define specific hours for work. I tend to blend my two worlds together, I indeed built strong relationships with my colleagues that go beyond work hours. 

SafetyCulture is a global company with teams across 4 time zones, flexibility in working hours is key to communicate with everyone but leaves me with freedom to organize my days around it. It is definitely not a 9 to 5 job but this doesn’t make it a difficult job, the traditional definition of work life balance is questionable to me. 

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Putting first things first, eating healthy and exercising often make you more productive, creative and inspired. Taking time off is also crucial to evolve in your career and deliver the best performance and results.

I don’t believe that people need to be ashamed of taking time off, the American system around holidays is not a good one. When we look at productivity, countries like France and Sweden have proven that holidays help people resource and deliver even better outcomes.

Every time you take a time off or even workout during the day, you will come back to the office with a renewed energy and this impacts positively your relationship with your peers and the quality of your work. 

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

The ONE Thing and The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Apply both of them together and you will reach happiness and satisfaction. 

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

The 15,000 steps. 

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

A blend of Bill Gates and Michael Phelps

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

Focus on the main things that drive your positive energy, be active and be proactive. 

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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.