Balancing the Grind with Kelli Dienhoff, Associate Director, Technology & Projects at Mentor List Talent

Kelli Dienhoff is the Associate Director, Technology & Projects at Mentor List Talent, a collaboration of business services & professional growth.

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

I had an early career in the hospitality sector until my early twenties where I lived in Far North Queensland, Sunshine Coast and the Barossa Valley. My first corporate role started at a speech recognition company that held the Australian & NZ distributorship for Dragon NaturallySpeaking.

I coordinated one on one training sessions across Government, Health and Legal sectors which sparked a passion for solution sales and consulting, providing exceptional customer experience and user support. I implemented a Volume Licence pricing model and enjoyed working with tech savvy collaborators/innovators applying speech into their projects.

The event management element allowed me to learn effective marketing requirements & specific tweaks for each state (including NZ) and I loved working with vendors via the channel. This role was like a mini-MBA when I look back on it.

Being a small business, I enjoyed the creativity and having the ability to adapt when spotting gaps in the market and getting a simple nod to go ahead allowed for constant momentum which was motivating.

I continued to develop my skills working with a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) offering corporate training for soft skills development, technical including bespoke tailored options. Working in the open office environment, I found myself sitting next to the technical recruitment team, when overhearing conversations and technical terms that were familiar to me got me instantly intrigued.

With an opening in the team, I was offered the role as a Key Account Manager to work with a leading global consulting firm. This was where I learnt the meaning of a real team environment & an effective Employer Brand.

I travelled to London when the GFC hit then to Dubai where it soon followed soon after and where I lived for 10 years. I consulted with an Employer Branding agency, worked in recruitment and also mentored with an International Business School and took on the role of Corporate Relations within a global team, assisting the graduate employability outcomes of Masters students and a component of Executive Education.

I thrived in the fast-paced multi-cultural environment, surrounded by the global mindsets of the students, clients and visiting professors whom I often organised as guest speakers for my passion for matching topics, people, skills and case study examples.

I have now come full circle encompassing my experience as I’m currently advocating for Diversity in Women in Tech and Leadership roles and returning to work Mums.

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

Depending on the morning, I coordinate with my Husband to drop off. Generally, I like to walk to grab my morning coffee to replace my commute to the train station while I’m working from home.

I’m usually starting with admin assessment or a Teams Meeting, email response, finalising a document on the phone until lunch.

Lunch break, gym or walk and talk. Take a breather, stretch the legs.

The afternoon is following up candidates, clients, finalising documents for submission, updating CRM.

Hard stop at 5.30pm for pick up, if my Husband and I are both working from home it can go either way; the who’s busier standoff and a dash out the door or on a quieter day, we generally walk together and recap our day.

I often jump online after hours to research and upskill.

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

This is one of the main reasons I joined Mentor List Talent at the end of the 2020/21 burnout years. We support women in their careers and to be honest, I had a few back up appointments to attend to as my daughter is due to start school this year, therefore my onboarding experience was the opportunity to prove Trust and I can say we well and truly live and breathe our ethos.

As a mum, I know I will need to shoot off to an appointment (as it happened recently as I gained a cancellation vaccination) or if she’s sick and I must play a dual role for the day(s).

I respect my team and colleagues and I keep the team updated. If I need to be absent from the desk for a specific time, I will continue to get work done when able to. Guilt creep happens yet team members can see when you are online and working, it’s all about output.

I’ve worked in global teams across time zones and perhaps this may be an element of remote working in Australia that has had the trust component take centre stage for positive employee and employer relations. Flexibility is key.

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

My priorities have changed, as a working mum, it means I’m able to schedule and attend school functions which is important to me as I want to be there for my daughter, particularly in her formative years.

Work-life balance means that I can be flexible when life occurs, knowing my work priorities and those of my teams are still able to be met, all in sync maintaining the balance and not a deadline missed. If things change, I communicate immediately.

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

During these changed times, 2020/21 taught me #1 to prioritise my Mental Health, getting out of my house more, to go for a walk, run or ride.

I purchased a mountain bike last year, I ride a 10km loop in my area which I do on a regular basis, and I schedule a meet up with a neighbour for a walk every other day. Exercise has always been important to me; like many, I noticed a pause for a while during the lockdown period.

I also invested in a wellbeing group resilience program which naturally turned into an open mentoring session during a stressful time in 2021. I absolutely revelled in it; I reflect often to revert to the tools and ensure I’m practising regularly.

I have kept my network alive by checking in with others, also pulling back and setting personal boundaries.

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

I’m presently working through the Mentor List Podcasts. Cassandra Goodman’s Self Fidelity has also been inspirational on my Kindle. I enjoy a great writer, Trent Dalton, Boy Swallows Universe was a great escape.

I use Twitter a lot to gain and share information and follow hashtags and inspirational global thought leaders such as Simon Sinek, Herminia Ibarra, Andre Spicer, Forbes, HBR & TalentCulture.

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

iPhone, Airpods and Lululemon activewear with pockets, it means I’m able to jump up and run out the house and release the dolphins! Google Drive, Kindle, Spotify, LinkedIn, Coffee machine.

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

I love reading and hearing stories about career paths of active women. Dr. Jana Pitmans personal story struck me recently, she has had an incredible journey and epitomises Mental Toughness.

I will enjoy seeing how she manages her next life and career phase with twins on the way and her passion for healthcare education for underprivileged Women.

I enjoy all inspirational authentic interviews where people tell it how it is, providing personal experiences and how they overcame their challenges. I like the raw daily grind, struggle and the tips and tricks that worked for them.

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

Schedule personal time & setting boundaries!

  • Switch off at a certain time to communicating via social media
  • Delete, mute or remove yourself from apps or chats
  • Work to your energy levels and schedule time for yourself to recharge.
  • Reaching out to people with a phone call is essential for human connection.

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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.