Balancing the Grind with Marianne Bateup, Founder & Director of Abilitise

Marianne is the Founder and Director of Abilitise, a multi-award winning leadership coaching, consulting and training practice, offering customised solutions for individuals, teams and businesses in line with client requirements. 

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

Before moving into the leadership coaching and training space, I’ve had 20+ years experience in large-, medium- and small-sized organisations across 5 continents in a range of industry sectors. My work centred around strategy, business transformation and project management space, most recently for Toyota, both in Australia as well as in Japan.

Liaising with different levels of leaders up to and including board-level, I recognised how much value coaching and training can provide for successful stakeholder management, embedding change, as well as personal and professional growth.

That’s when I moved more and more into this space and opened my leadership coaching, consulting and training practice Abilitise in 2016. We are passionate about providing consistently high value to our clients through customised service offerings, which has culminated in Abilitise having been awarded Best Executive Leadership Training Provider in South East Australia for 2023, and for 2022 Leadership Coaching Firm of the Year in Australia and Best Leadership Development Training Provider in NSW, and me having been a winner in CEO Today Magazine’s Executive Coaching Awards for Australasia for 2022. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

Days are rarely typical, as we deal with such a variety of clients and customise our services for their requirements. I’d argue this variety is one of my key tools to balance the grind. If there are no early sessions with clients in the US, I tend to wake up with my husband at 5am and, with me originally from Germany, watch German news prior to the Australian ones while having breakfast.

Subsequently, I take our rescue dog Ash for a walk before reviewing emails that have come through overnight from our overseas clients. During the day I facilitate a mixture of individual, group and team coaching, training and strategy sessions, and meet with clients to understand their requirements.

All of this is mostly online, but also from time to time in person. Furthermore, I develop session material and liaise with my team, ensuring they feel supported and have the resources required. Afternoons and evenings are also diverse, sometimes I finish early, spend time with my husband and subsequently facilitate sessions for Europe and the US. Other days I attend networking events. 

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

Maintaining work-life balance and running your own business, especially also with clients overseas, can be tricky. For me the idea of work-life integration resonates more. I love what I do and that entails both, professional as well as private life, and I can intertwine these aspects to make them work for me, for my business and for my loved ones.

To make this flexibility work I also rely on my team members, delegating to them as appropriate. Overall though, ensuring there is sufficient downtime is essential to avoid burn-out. I know that I also need time for myself in order to be able to run a business and support my clients effectively.

Thus, on weekends I tend to live away on our boat, often in areas with limited internet and phone connection, enjoying nature, togetherness, swimming and paddleboarding, reading a good book and listening to my husband play the saxophone while just being. 

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

Last year was a year of further professional development for me, adding two additional diplomas in the training space in an effort to continuously enhance service provision to our clients. Completing the course requirements on top of other responsibilities was rather strenuous. Subsequently reflecting on the prior year and planning for this one, I decided to focus this year on sustainable growth.

Instead of adding significant further professional development commitments, I rather attend a few shorter webinars here and there, which keep me mentally stimulated, while also focussing on the sustainable growth of the business, as well as on my health and wellbeing, adding more walks with the dog during the day, eating more healthily and catching up with friends more often. 

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

To help your journey towards balance, becoming aware of and then adjusting your habits towards the balance you are seeking is important. Coaching is a great tool to help in this regard and, if you are looking for a book that can help in this space try Atomic Habits by James Clear.

To figure out which kind of balance you are seeking, understanding your values and passion is also important. Again, I recommend coaching as a tool in this regard, but another resource I recommend is The Buddha and the Badass by Vishen Lakhiani. 

I have also written a few articles which may be of value to readers in relation to wellbeing, goal setting and change, with the following particularly supportive concerning the importance of balance and ways of implementing it.

Common blindspots and how to overcome them: I have too much on at work to focus on my wellbeing.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

While you can always try to learn from others how they achieve balance, I’d argue balance is something very personal. Figure out what it is that works for you, not for someone else, and develop habits and routines to stick to that. If you are uncertain what might work for you, reflect back on situations where you felt balance. How did you manage to achieve that? Then replicate it for your current situation. 

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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.