Balancing the Grind with Kate Speakman, Chief Operating Officer at LivePreso

Kate Speakman is the Chief Operating Officer at LivePreso, which has been transforming business outcomes and workflows since 2014 for blue-chip companies around the world

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

I’m currently the Chief Operating Officer of LivePreso. Since 2014, LivePreso has been delivering a suite of enablement products that takes enterprise teams to the next level with automated world-class, interactive and data-driven content for their customer-facing engagements.

I actually started out in advertising in Sydney back in 2005, fresh off the boat from New Zealand. While it’s not an easy job by any means, eight years in account management made me develop the ability to read a room and anticipate people’s needs, which are some of the most transferable skills anyone can have.

After moving with my husband to Melbourne, I was lucky enough to meet Aaron Cooper and Joel Thomson, and work with them in transforming a small digital shop into the SaaS business which is now LivePreso.

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

We’re a lean and high-performing team at LivePreso, therefore one of the best parts of my job is that it’s anything and everything. I’m involved in product, strategy, finance, client management, HR – every day is different! It’s very demanding, but it’s the kind of hard work I like. 

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

When the lockdowns ended, we consulted with our whole team regularly and experimented with a few different approaches to flexible working. Finally at the end of 2022 we shifted to a ‘fully flexible’ working policy, which everyone loves.

My husband and I, along with our puppy Winnie, made a tree change from Prahran to the Dandenong Ranges last year, so I’m very lucky to start each day looking out onto trees and birds. It’s an enormous help in managing stress and mental health, and a great alternative when your eyes need a rest from Zoom.

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

Living an hour’s drive from the office, being able to choose which days I travel has made the biggest difference to my work-life balance. Getting those couple of hours back to exercise, walk the dog or just sit in the sun for 10 minutes is a game changer!

We don’t have kids, so I’m very aware that it’s simpler for me to achieve balance on any given day. That also means it’s doubly important to have the utmost consideration and empathy for those in our team juggling kids as well as work, trying to achieve that same balance. I’m in awe of them every day.

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

I’ve started to practise compartmentalising my work and home headspace. Lockdowns blurred those lines more than they should have for me, and I’m very conscious of managing it better – especially now that we’ve gone fully flexible. We also have a number of global customers, and the reality of calls outside our timezone make managing the mental shift from work to home all the more important.

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

I have a terrible habit of consuming books and podcasts that help my brain relax at either end of the day, rather than more inspirational or worthwhile content! In podcasts, I love Off Menu, How Did This Get Made, and Las Culturistas.

I read a couple of books a week, and lately I’ve loved The Swarm by Frank Schatzing, Anthem by Noah Hawley and Faith, Hope and Carnage by Nick Cave. I have a B-list resolution this year to get a bit more serious about the content I’m consuming. We’ll see how that goes.

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

My Kindle, without a doubt. For work, AirPods, and I genuinely don’t know how we managed before Slack! It kept our team truly connected over the lockdowns and continues to do so now we’re fully flexible.

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

While I find the routines of extremely disciplined people absolutely fascinating (like Jack Dorsey for example), they’re usually about people with significant, or even endless, resources at their disposal to achieve it. I’d choose to read an interview about any working mum and their tricks for work-life balance, every time.

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

I always think of work-life balance as a see-saw – it’s not about keeping it constantly still and level, it’s about the ability to thrive whichever way it’s tipping, and level out as much as you can. 

By necessity and usually for reasons out of our control, sometimes the balance needs to skew more towards work, sometimes more towards life. If I’m happy on the see-saw whichever way it tips, then that’s the playground for me.

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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.