Balancing the Grind with Kiya Taylor, Head of Platform & Community at EVP

Kiya Taylor is the Head of Platform & Community at EVP, a venture firm focused on early-stage B2B software and marketplace companies in Australia and New Zealand

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

I work at a venture capital firm called EVP as the Head of Platform and Community. It’s a broad role that blends everything from supporting our portfolio of founders to working on investor strategies and growth opportunities for the firm. 

I’ve worked in and around startups for a large part of my career. It’s where I find the most growth and joy. Before joining EVP, I was Chief Customer Officer at a cleantech start-up, and prior to that, I led industry engagement for DER at ARENA – a Government organisation that funds innovation in renewable energy. 

Much of my career background can be summarised as being a generalist who works across organisations to build things, communicate them and bring people together. My skills don’t often fit into a neatly defined box and while there are many moments I wish they did, I wouldn’t trade the breadth of opportunity they give me.

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

My workdays are incredibly varied – so what I try to keep consistent is how I start and end them. They start at 6:30am with exercise, meditation and a big breakfast of greens and eggs. They end with a good meal, catching up on admin and something that disconnects me from the day.

I typically log on to work around 8ish and set out priorities for the day. A recent workday looked like: 

  • Preparing investor reports with our Partners and Business/Ops Manager 
  • Sitting on a founder pitch with our Investment Team
  • Reviewing a press release for a Founder and chatting through community-building opportunities
  • Sending monthly introductions to our Founders to make sure they’re connected 
  • Jumping on a planning call with an industry partner to talk about an event

I find myself switching between execution and strategy multiple times a day, while also needing to be available to meet and connect people. Setting boundaries on when to check emails and prioritising engagement is key to mental health!   

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

It does – we’re flexible in the Sydney EVP office and currently have one team member working remotely overseas.

The ability to work flexibly, and the general openness and acceptance of this by companies now, is an important step in recognising that different people need different things to be our most effective selves. 

I go to the office at least three days a week. That way I can collaborate with the team and meet founders, investors, partners, etc – and still have a couple of days at home where I focus more on deep strategic work.

Before EVP, I worked 2.5 years remotely (even before the lockdowns). While I think it’s a really positive aspect of workplaces now, it does require a whole lot more thought and consideration to create a sense of ‘belonging’ at work. 

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

For many years I saw work-life balance as a very binary concept – you were either ‘balanced’ or you weren’t, and to be balanced, meant things were ‘even’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this perspective made me feel like I was constantly failing. 

The first thing I changed was my perspective on the idea of balance itself – I stopped thinking of balance as a binary line of equilibrium, but more of a multilayered circle.

The goal isn’t to be always standing at the most central point – but to know which of the layers you feel most comfortable oscillating between, and importantly, what to do when you’re in a layer that’s not comfortable. 

The second thing I did was stop thinking about it as work-life balance and more as work-life integration. The truth is, I do work that I’m passionate about, and if I’m not passionate about it, I won’t do it.

So if I love what I’m doing, it should complement my life rather than force me to segment my life. I don’t see days as work and then not work – I see them as 24 hours to do things I care about. Exercise, meditate, meet interesting people, make things efficient and polished, think creatively and innovatively, be challenged, eat good food, sleep well. 

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

Meditating regularly – even if it’s just five minutes a day, has been a really positive habit that I’ve been cultivating in the past 12 months. It grounds me and helps me to show up more clearly and deliberately in my day. Even just taking a minute or two to breathe before meetings or big calls can be beneficial. 

A habit I’ve been working to stop is compromising on sleep – for so long I wore a badge of honor on my ability to power through days of little sleep. I then realised how much more effective I could be if I actually prioritised it!

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

The two newsletters I read each week without fail are Femstreet and Climate VC. I think Intercom’s podcast is one of the best on product and marketing, and Sway by Kara Fisher is a brilliant podcast on tech. If I want a mental workout, Conversations with Tyler is my go-to. 

Oh – and if you want to hear about renewable energy in Australia, I should probably plug ARENA’s Rewired podcast which I’m currently hosting!

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

Gadget – Apple Watch, I have a bit of an allergy to hypes and was very skeptical, but it keeps me active and feeling on top of things.

Apps – Insight Timer, Spotify, Focus Keeper. 

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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.