Balancing the Grind with Kelly Wu, COO at GovConnex

Kelly Wu is the COO at GovConnex, an Australian SaaS company on a mission to improve access to government information and improve public policy globally.

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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 in management consulting at Bain & Company, before falling in love with startups. It is incredible to see how innovative, fast-paced, and driven people can build and scale a company from scratch. I started my first foray into startups with Una Brands, an APAC-based e-commerce aggregator, where I led the Strategic Projects and Growth teams.

Then recently, I joined GovConnex as Chief Operating Officer. GovConnex is a B2B SaaS company that is on a mission to be the world’s leading provider of government information and workflow tools, allowing organisations to manage political and regulatory risk more efficiently. The company is growing rapidly as our customers love our product, and we’re delivering fantastic technology to a previously underserved industry. 

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

As the COO in a fast-paced startup environment, I look after a range of different functions such as finance, strategy, marketing and people.

I really love rolling up my sleeves and doing whatever needs to be done to achieve great outcomes for the company, so the typical day is usually jam-packed with loads of different exciting projects and activities – I like to call it ‘exciting chaos’.

On a recent workday, I started the day off by updating our company financial model, then using this model to make decisions with the leadership in regards to hiring, new product and geographic expansion opportunities, sales targets, marketing budgets, etc.

Then I worked with the Customer Success team on the planning for an upcoming webinar, including content creation, marketing campaign and logistics.

Later in the afternoon, I sat down with the Sales team to audit the end-to-end sales process and workshopped ideas to improve conversion and optimise the process by adding in automation. Then finished the day off with planning some upcoming people & culture initiatives. 

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

Work-life balance means being able to achieve positive outcomes both at work and in your personal life, at the same time, on your terms. For me, that means having a reasonable level of flexibility in the hours I work, where I work and how I work.

I really enjoy having a hybrid working model where I can enjoy quality time with my colleagues and really thrive in the energy of our workplace, and also have more focused solo working time when I am at home.

I like taking a longer break in the middle of the day to go out for some sunshine and a walk, and as a night owl I prefer having a couple hours of dedicated thinking time in the evenings when I am most energetic. 

When people have good work-life balance, I find that they are able to achieve much more in both their professional and personal lives. In the past, I have definitely been much more focused on the ‘work’ part of the scale and neglected my health and quality time with loved ones.

It was definitely unsustainable and I actually think that it hindered my full potential. After finding a much better work-life balance (always trying to work it out!), I’ve found that I am much happier, creative and productive, yielding even better outcomes at work.

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

I have started taking jiu-jitsu classes. The routine is great for de-stressing and mindfulness, along with fitness of course! I’ve also committed to taking walks daily as a way to break up the day, get in some exercise, and also to give me some ‘thinking time’. It is important to slow down and process things instead of always going at 200km/hr. 

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

I really like the Acquired Podcast. The hosts Ben and David go through long, in-depth analyses of what made great companies successful.

Some of my favourite episodes are the ones on TSMC, Berkshire Hathaway, SONY, and Taylor Swift! I also really like Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast which are a lot shorter but cover a large range of entrepreneurship topics. 

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

Kim Teo, the CEO and Co-Founder of Mr Yum. She is someone I really admire and would love to learn from!

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

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. This goes for all aspects of life. What this means for me is that I try to apply a long-term view to all my decisions, both personally and professionally. I often ask myself, what decisions can I make today that will yield the best results in the long-term, instead of short-term gratification?

However, this also means that it’s ok to make mistakes as you’re in it for the long-haul, and it is important to be kind to yourself. Another one of my top principles is to live life without regret or guilt, for these are the feelings that will stick with you the longest. 

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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.