Balancing the Grind with Marjet Andriesse, Senior VP & GM APAC/Japan/Greater China at Red Hat

Marjet Andriesse is the Senior VP & GM APAC/Japan/Greater China at Red Hat, an American software company that provides open source software products to enterprises.

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1) Could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I belong to the land of cheese, wooden shoes, and windmills – The Netherlands. I have been fortunate enough to have received opportunities to lead and work across diverse regions in Europe and Asia. I am currently based in Singapore.

I moved here in 2016 to lead Telstra’s enterprise business for Asia after having lived and worked in Japan for a couple of years. I have always enjoyed working in a fast-paced environment and Singapore seemed to be a perfect fit – a gateway to the APAC region and supported by a great infrastructure.

Over the years, I have played an instrumental role in transforming businesses and organisations across Europe and Asia. With over 25 years of experience in the ever-growing, technology, and professional services industries, I am now with Red Hat, as the Senior Vice President and General Manager leading the company’s growth in Asia Pacific.

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

My day starts mostly early. Whenever I am in Singapore, I set an hour in the morning as ‘me time’ when I head for a morning walk with my husband and that’s when we are often exchanging our day schedules. My workday starts around 8am, when I do a quick check of emails and then jump on sales or leadership calls with teams based in North America.

Post pandemic, the concept of workplace has completely changed and at Red Hat, we’ve come to believe that the future of work is driven by one concept: flexibility. I enjoy being in office and try to be in office four days a week. We recently moved to a new workplace in Singapore and I love the ambience and the work environment. And it’s always great to meet team members in the office and connect with any new associates in the office.

My work schedule looks different each day and may include sales and partner calls with country teams in Asia, strategy meetings with my leadership teams, sitting with my CoS on business linearity, or catching up with associates for lunch and learning about their work and so forth.

Now that travel has opened, I have been on the road every other month. Recently, I was in India for ten days, extensively meeting customers, partners, and visiting our offices in Bangalore, Delhi, Mumbai and Pune.

When I am in Singapore, I try to leave for home by 6pm. Evenings are mainly family time with my husband when we try to catch up on our day over a nice meal.

Most nights, I am again in front of my laptop connecting with the leadership team in North America the whole evening and later preparing for my next day meetings. I try to stick to my 7-8 hours of sleep at night so that I can start my new day with a relaxed and fresh mind.

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

I am not sure if there is really anything called ‘balance’ considering we all are living and working in a world which is just recovering from the pandemic. But what I have often believed and practised is that – to enjoy work and life you need to ‘prioritise’ the elements that you are passionate about and then focus on it.

Sometimes it may be selecting projects that excite or challenge you, meeting new customers and learning from them, or simply cultivating an interest outside work, or proactively taking time to connect with close friends, or blocking time for family trips in advance.

Once I have mapped this, I make sure I am following and reviewing it and ensuring that I am not missing any element in the mix. I have a very smart executive assistant who keeps my schedule in check, reminding me of the many important projects that I am committed to at work and outside. It is important for all of us to ensure that – as we spend quality time at work (head), there is also an equal time spent for the heart and health.

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

That’s an interesting question. There have been no routines that I have stopped, but there are activities I am consciously prioritising – such as planning my time and breaks better. Also, making sure I am pacing my time well for work and my “me time”.

Also, trying to get at least 7 hours of sleep, something which is tough given my work schedule. The other thing I am being more deliberate about is stepping out to clear my head. Just being in nature is often a great way to unwind, reflect, and refresh.

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

I am not much of a podcast person. The digital format of reading and listening hasn’t still captivated me yet. I enjoy reading and would prefer a book and newspaper any day in its paperback format. I am more drawn to books from the history genre.

Recently, I read – A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, it’s a historical fiction. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading history, espionage, and politics. Other two books that I often recommend are – Amp it Up by Frank Slootman and The Open Organisation by Jim Whitehurst. Both these books share a great perspective about transforming an organisation for maximum growth and scale with passion and performance. I am also an ardent reader of the Financial Times.

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

Given that we all get the same amount of hours daily, it is important that we allocate some time in a day or week to reflect. I often learn a lot when I reflect and review. As leaders, strategising is our biggest task and you can’t work on building a smart strategy if you are distracted or have your head in the ground.

It is important to spare some time for self-reflection. It will help in building greater self-awareness and critical thinking skills, which is important for the variety of roles we play at work and at home.

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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.