Biz Dev & Sales / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Katie Towers, Head of Sales & Partnerships APAC at Ultra Commerce

Katie Towers is the Head of Sales & Partnerships for APAC at Ultra Commerce, an Australian all-in-one eCommerce platform built to scale for B2C and B2B enterprises.

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

I have been in sales across a variety of industries for over 20 years, the last 10 being in high tech where I focus on startups & taking new and innovative solutions to market. I joined Ultra Commerce in January to lead sales and partnerships for APAC.

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

I mix up my work days up some at home and some in the office probably a 2/3 split. It’s good to be back in the office as it allows much greater collaboration and you can get decisions made really quickly.

My day usually starts early, I do my best work before 5pm. It always starts with a fresh batch brew of coffee and some exercise. It helps me clear my mind and set myself up for the day.

My days are filled with meetings either internally, with partners or with customers. All my partner and customers meetings are done via video conference at the moment so I often find myself in back to back meetings with little break in between which is a challenge, however l always make sure I get some fresh air when I get a break to make phone calls, get a coffee or a snack.

I usually end my day around 7 or 8pm, daylight savings hasn’t helped my ASEAN meetings which is now at least 3 hours behind now. Early dinner, music, reading, a bit of TV and then early to bed. I can’t function without at least 8 hours sleep.

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

Absolutely, technology is an area which has long benefited from mix modes of working, particularly in sales. Being able to work from home is great for the days you need to visit the bank, have a workman visit or when you just don’t feel like being part of the peak hour grind.

I generally need to have a mix of both though as I enjoy the social side of being in the office, as well as being able to have quick conversations with team members and getting a change of scenery.

Working from home allows me to do my personal training flexibly depending on my diary which may mean 10am or 4pm.

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

It means having the flexibility to do your job based around the way you like to work. For me work-life balance is about knowing when you need to take a break and recharge.

My way of doing this is to take 2 overseas trips a year for a minimum 2 weeks. I work hard for 6 months then I totally turn off for those 2 weeks and take myself somewhere completely different. I have been deep in the Amazon Jungle, seen the Northern Lights near the Arctic Circle and explored old towns in Europe.

Being able to totally turn off means I turn off all work notifications, never check emails and tell my team/colleagues only contact me if it’s urgent and do so on SMS. It’s only even happened once.

This is how I recharge and then once back I start planning the next trip so I have something to work towards. For me COVID has been a real challenge as it has disrupted my routine and I have had to find other ways to get some balance.

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

For sure, the biggest one for me is I start my day with gratitude. This means on waking I take 5 mins just to be thankful for everything and it allows me some time to just centre and be before the day gets going.

This is a big change for me as I used to start my day looking at my phone which means my work brain is switched on immediately and I have no time to just ease into the work day.

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

I haven’t yet got into the podcast thing, I do read a lot though.

My favourite books are:

  • The Disappearance of the Universe by Gary Renard
  • A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman

I am very much focusing on my spiritual side of life at the moment and these books have been life changing for me in how I think, feel, act every day.

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

Anything music-related as music is life, so Spotify and my Sonos app.

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

Arianna Huffington.

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

I think just sharing how important it is. In my industry I hear people saying all the time “oh I only slept for 3 hours”, “I haven’t had a holiday in 3 years” almost as a badge of honour. Living to work has almost become something people are proud of.

I work to live. I love my job and I give my all to it, but don’t give it all of me.

I always say to those people, “when you are nearing the end of life will you look back and I’m glad I worked all those hours, or will you look back and be grateful for the time you spent with family, friends, travelling and the experiences created?”

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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.