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Balancing the Grind with Kevin Ackhurst, Head of Sales APAC at HubSpot at HubSpot

Kevin Ackhurst is the Head of Sales APAC at HubSpot, where he’s leading the HubSpot business across South East Asia, India, Australia & New Zealand.

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

Throughout my career, I’ve been focused on building great teams, building businesses and achieving outstanding results. I’d describe my approach as coaching and empowering others, with strong governance.

Prior to joining HubSpot, I spent six years at Google, where I had key leadership roles across the APAC and ANZ regions. My experience in the tech industry also includes time at Juniper Networks and Microsoft. 

At HubSpot my role, much like our mission, is to help organisations in the APAC region grow better. There’s a lingering misconception that to grow, you need to solve first for your bottom line.

This belief leads companies to make trade-offs, and sacrifice trust, relationships and the customer experience. Today, the best businesses grow by putting long-term relationships, their people and their customers ahead of short-term gains. We have a mantra to ‘Solve for the Customer’ at HubSpot and so far, it’s guided us well. 

Beyond championing this new approach to growth in our region, I’m responsible for HubSpot’s performance across the APAC region, and I work in partnership with our sales teams in ANZ, Singapore and India.

As HubSpot itself grows in the region, it’s also a priority to build a culture of diversity, inclusion and belonging, and to create teams that support and care for each other and the world around them. I have strong beliefs in the importance of mentoring others and balancing my work life between activities that are for purpose and for profit. 

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

HubSpot’s just finished our Global Week of Rest, a paid week off for all employees that’s part of our HubSpot Unplugged initiative.

While my original plans of a domestic family holiday were impacted with the latest restrictions, it was just as great to have a week at home to unwind, get outdoors and refocus before the second half of the year.

With my youngest son on school holidays, my eldest taking a few days off from work, and my wife in a break between jobs, we were able to spend time hanging out, I tackled a few home maintenance tasks that have been on my to-do list, and spent time getting outside and running and cycling  with my youngest son. 

I’m back at  work and today is a pretty normal Wednesday for me. Wednesday’s mean a bright and early wake up at 4.30am to go running with Kate’s Speed Squad. Post-run, I headed home and helped my wife get our teenage son off to school and with the morning chores.

My first call was with a colleague in Colombia – we connect monthly and it’s a great opportunity to share notes and discuss challenges we have. The rest of my morning was a mixture of 1-1’s, interviews, and I had the opportunity to join our monthly HubSpot social group mixer.

About 50 people joined from the ANZ office today, and we explored Gardner’s Desert Island Intelligences.  The rest of my day will be calls with India, Singapore, Ireland and getting through a number of Slack messages and emails. No partner or customer calls today, which is rare, but I am spending a lot of time with our partners tomorrow and Friday. 

Breakfast for me was a protein shake, lunch was special – my wife is a great cook and when our work schedules allow, we have lunch together, like today.

After my calls tonight I’ll have dinner with the family and spend time with my youngest son, probably making progress on the Lego model of the Sydney Opera House he’s building. I like my sleep and try to get 7-8 hours every night, so that’ll be me for the evening.

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

At HubSpot, we’re committed to building a culture where people can do their best work. Some of us do our best work in an office, and some of us work best from a home office.

That’s why, as our Culture Code states, we’ve always believed that results matter more than when or where they’re produced. Many HubSpotters have worked fully remotely for years now, with about one in ten of our employees working remotely prior to the pandemic. 

The future of work isn’t coming, it’s here. In a recent survey from Gallup, 59% of people would like to continue working remotely as much as possible even after COVID-19 lockdowns are lifted.

Our own employee data reflects the shift to remote, too. Two thirds of HubSpotters intend to work remotely more often once offices reopen, and 16% are interested in moving to a full-time remote set-up.

I’m primarily based from my home on the Sunshine Coast, however, when I am able to travel, I do like to spend some time in Sydney and with our team members who have opted to work from the office. 

I believe that embracing remote work gives organisations incredible opportunities to expand access to talent beyond our physical office locations, and opens doors and creates opportunities for people who live in regional, rural and remote locations across Australia.

I hope to see HubSpot welcome team members from more regional locations like Wagga Wagga, Albury, Geraldton and Darwin in the very near future. 

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

It’s a three legged stool and the legs are family, work and myself. The stool cannot stand if one of the legs is not there. Friendships are included, they’re really important and I consider them part of the family connections leg.

I try to balance my time across the week between all three components. It might mean that not every day is balanced. Tomorrow, for instance, will be unbalanced because of late night calls with Boston, but Friday will have an early finish to spend more time with my family. 

Time for me is made up of sleep or my hobbies which mostly revolve around exercise, reading and music. I love the Sundays, when my eldest son and his partner come over and our family are all together, or the Sundays when we connect with our friends around the world on Zoom. 

I continually seek harmony between the three legs of my stool, and that’s what work life balance means to me. 

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

I’ve stopped flying to Sydney every week. This is not only as a result of the pandemic, but also as a result of HubSpot’s approach to work providing more flexibility on where and how we work. I’ve also taken up pilates and am loving it – I now go three times a week. I’ve also done a Parkrun every Saturday and I’m keen to see how many I can complete this year.  

I’ve still got a list of things I want to do and possibly the biggest change for me is that I’m not trying to do them all at the same time. As a result I sleep better, am more present with my family and I hope I am more relaxed.

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

I’m finishing the second last book of the Culture Series by Iain M Banks on Audible. I’ve read them all before but now they are being read to me – a nice change! After that I’m planning to re-read all the William Gibson books and all the John Irving books and then Salman Rushdie and then…

I also enjoy reading shorter pieces on Medium, The Hustle and listening to the Daily Betoota and Trail Runner Nation podcasts. 

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

To name a few:

  • Strava! If it’s not on Strava it didn’t happen.
  • My mountain bike, especially when I’m riding with my son
  • Audible, I’ve figured out how to make it work for me in the car and while I’m exercising
  • Spotify, I love my music
  • Our Roomba, they make the daily chores much easier.
  • And recently, my Gozney Roccbox. If you like real pizza, this portable pizza oven is amazing!

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

Nelson Mandela or Matt Berninger.

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

Stay inquisitive, be present and stand up for those that cannot. Don’t be afraid to take the difficult path.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.