CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Lauren Ryder, CEO of Leading Edge Global

Lauren Ryder is the CEO of Leading Edge Global, an industry leading company in business implementations and transformations.

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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 as an IT Project Manager building software, but I worked out pretty quickly that Project Management was terribly boring and I preferred working with the people who were using the software that we were creating!

So I transitioned into Change Management and with a bit of luck I soon found myself running the change management stream for a huge Transformation program at CBA which ran for 2 years. That experience equipped me with the skills I needed to start my Change Management consulting career. 

When I started consulting, most of my contracts were through small consulting firms, and I found that I was building their business when I was on their client site. I quickly realised that it wasn’t that difficult to sell so I created my own consulting business and never looked back!

I now run a team of specialist business transformation consultants and we help businesses set themselves up for growth by improving their technology, people and processes.

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

I always start my day at the gym at 6:15am for an hour session – then head home,  pick up my son, take him to school and then back home to start my work day.  In the car, I listen to business podcasts on various topics – I love learning about new ideas. 

Once I get back home, every day is completely different for me. I spread my time between sales, operations and consulting. For a number of years I was ‘off the tools’ and just had my team deliver, but a few years ago I realised that I missed working on client sites, so I’ve restructured our offerings so I can do work with clients while still growing and running the business.  

My favourite thing to do is facilitating workshops and training for my clients. Last week, I ran a Vision, Mission and Values half-day session for a client in the morning, then headed across town for a sales meeting in the city, then back home quickly to change and drop off my workshop kit and head across to another client to run a Steering Committee meeting for a Transformation project where I’m the part-time program director.

Other days I work with my team to prepare for client engagements, attend networking events, get interviewed on podcasts or meet with my marketing manager to plan for the next few weeks. 

When I get home, I cook dinner and pick up kids from various activities.

I do try to knock off work before dinner but running my own business means that I often need to work extended hours to get the job done. If I’m working at night, it’s usually to write proposals as I like to do that when it’s quiet without any distractions. 

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

I do have an office in North Sydney but my consultants work on client sites so we don’t really need to be there often.  Since the lockdowns, I realised that I prefer to work from home due to the flexibility – and because I get to spend time with my adorable kitty cat. 

Because my days are so varied, and I often have errands to manage around the house and the kids, I find it is much easier to be based at home so that I can juggle my work and personal tasks across the day. 

It’s also easier to manage my outfits for the day – last week I had one day in 3 different outfits for various events and meetings – it was much easier being at home than taking them with me to the office!

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

About 10 years ago I had a gig at Macquarie Bank and I worked myself so hard that I ended up in hospital. I realised at that point that having work life balance is a non-negotiable, and the most important thing is that I’m healthy to be here for my family. 

Since then, I have made my health my priority. 

My daily gym session is essential for keeping me focused during the day. I like to change it up every day, I do a mix of weights, gymnastics, muay thai and cardio conditioning. 

Sleep is my other non-negotiable.  I insist on getting 8 hours of sleep every night, which means I have a sleep routine which starts around 8pm each night. People ask me how I always have so much energy – it’s easy when you get enough sleep!

I eat very healthy – I can’t eat gluten which means that I eat very clean and hardly ever eat anything processed. I don’t drink coffee – only some green tea, which helps with keeping my energy level stable, and I drink at least 2-3L of water every day.  

On the weekends I catch up with friends and family,  and when the weather is nice we take the boat out for a sail on Sydney Harbour. There is something about the fresh air and sunshine which is reinvigorating. 

All of these things help me to have very strong mental health and resilience so I can deal with any challenges that crop up every day – so I suppose my version of work life balance is being mentally and physically fit so I can easily juggle all the things that life throws at me. 

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

The biggest change that I made over the past year was not drinking alcohol during the week. 

A year ago I got a WHOOP band which tracks my recovery, sleep and energy expenditure. I found out that when I have any amount of alcohol – even one glass with dinner – my recovery plummets, which means I can’t operate at my best. 

I do love a few drinks, but I wait until the weekend when I don’t have to work the next day. 

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

I never liked history class growing up – I found it really boring. But as an adult, I’ve found historical fiction is a really fun way to learn history, which I think is really important as it teaches me about people and different cultures.

Last year I read Only Killers and Thieves,  which was about the Aboriginal genocide in QLD in the 1850s. Not being from Australia, it was a huge eye opener for me and has made me much more aware of the history of Australia’s indigenous people and why it’s so important to respect their beliefs and customs. 

I listen to all of my business content daily on Spotify and Audible so I can listen while driving or going for a walk. One that I like is called ‘Smart Gets Paid’ which is specifically for women who run consulting businesses. 

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

Other than my WHOOP, I’m not really a gadget person. But as for essential products, my bedroom is starting to resemble a physio studio!

I find that sitting at a desk is very bad for me – I need to stretch and roll before bed or when I wake up to make sure I don’t get back pain. I have a foam roller, back balls (thoracic roller), a thera-gun and exercise bands all lined up ready to go!

I also love my blue-blocking glasses – they are great to put on as the sun goes down to prepare your body for sleep.

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

I would love to hear from any female CEO with kids. The juggle is not easy,  but we all have the same 24 hours in the day and should learn from each other on how to best manage with the time that we have. 

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

I used to think that I could do everything – work, family, look after the house, have a social life – but it turns out that is impossible, something has to give.  My best advice is to outsource the low value tasks that you absolutely hate to do, so you can spend time on things that either make you more money or bring you more happiness. 

This will look different for different people, but it could be getting a nanny to pick up kids and cook dinner, getting a cleaner/housekeeper to clean and do laundry, having a gardener look after the yard or having your groceries delivered. 

By outsourcing the things I don’t enjoy doing, I can focus on what’s important to me, and be there for my family in a meaningful way. 

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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.