Balancing the Grind with Matteo Bianchi, Sydney City Launcher at Le Wagon

Matteo Bianchi began his career in Investment Banking followed by Private Equity before realising his true passion lies in connecting and sharing with people – today he teaches software engineering at Le Wagon course in Paris, and he is in Sydney to launch the local campus.

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

I believe my upbringing led me to my career today. 

I have Italian parents, I was born in Argentina, and every 3 years we would move to a new country. When I was 18, I moved out and kept the cycle going but on my own this time.

I am 26 years old now and I have lived in 11 countries. Through it all, I was studying in the French education system. That means today I am fluent in 4 languages, and speak some Arabic and Hungarian.

Then for my studies, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I went abroad: did a bachelor’s in economics and finance and a double master’s in international management and in financial economics. 

That’s when I started working in investment banking before giving private equity a shot.

It all felt very unsatisfying. I would spend 18-hours days working on billion-dollars deals but not feeling as if I accomplished anything.

I was staring down depression avenue and that’s when I decided to flip my life on its head, after all we only live once, might as well enjoy the ride no?

Long story short, I met the founders of Le Wagon, a global EdTech player delivering Tech bootcamps in 40 cities across the world. Their core values were sharing, helping people change for the better, and do all that as efficiently and as quickly as possible – all whilst having an amazing experience. A few friends did the bootcamp and talked extremely highly of their experience.

I pitched Le Wagon founders a wild idea that ended up becoming my job. If they wanted to expand to a new city, anywhere in the world, they would drop me there, provide some degree of support, and after 6 months there would be a cool new Tech bootcamp up and running, with a team hired to take over, and I’d be ready to start over again. I’d be a global serial intrapreneur.

They were intrigued enough to give it a shot, and that is what I do today.

The official title, if you will, is City Launcher, unofficially, I am the founder of Le Wagon in the city I land in.

I previously founded Le Wagon in Toulouse, that was an amazing and rewarding experience, and I am now in Sydney to do it all over again, bigger, better, and faster.

My goal with Le Wagon in Sydney is to allow anyone, without any prior technical background, a pathway to changing careers or upskilling into tech: either as a junior software developer, or a junior data analyst.

Our program does just that, in 9 weeks.

Through it all, I also confirmed my passion for sharing and mentoring, which is why in Sydney I’ll be teaching an entrepreneurship module and some tech classes at USYD.

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

That’s the best part, no two days are the same! Recently I had an incredible day, although incredibly exhausting too.

Last Thursday began with an update call with Peter from the PR Group, our PR agency for the new Le Wagon Sydney launch.

Then I had to get back to several teachers about the staffing schedule for the boot camps starting in October.

I then blocked a couple of hours to finalise my slides and rehearse my pitch for that night.

Quick healthy lunch, very important.

After that, I juggled between some event organisation and communication with our partners, having a catch-up call with Le Wagon founder to update him on Sydney’s progress, and then scheduling coffee meetings with Le Wagon alumni as well as interested leads for our course (I love meeting and chatting with people wanting to change their lives and working in tech).

I squeezed in a quick call with a successful founder from Portugal that knew Le Wagon and saw our Sydney announcement. I always find it inspiring talking to people that built something – I have so much to learn.

And at 4pm we were doing the final mic and tech check for our event that night. We were expecting 100+ participants for a founders and investors panel discussion, better be ready.

At 5pm it started, first some light networking and meeting lots of interesting people.

Then we watched a few hot new startups pitch.

After that, it was my turn to pitch Le Wagon for 5 minutes.

And then, the show was on: I was given the role of Moderator for a panel discussion with a successful scale-up founder, 2 seasoned VC investors, and the lead of USYD’s startup program. It was a great time, learnt a lot, had interesting discussions, and the audience seemed to appreciate the night.

We wrapped up the event, helped clean up, took the mandatory “another cool event” selfie, and was home by 9pm completely exhausted but happy.

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

Work-life balance means knowing when to prioritise a professional achievement, without neglecting yourself, your friends, your family or your significant other.

Some days might require that extra effort, to work that bit longer, because it is a one-time occurrence or the moment to secure a win for your business.

But that must be balanced with some days being about rest, self-care, or simply taking time with someone on a special occasion.

The most important thing to maintaining a healthy work-life balance: setting boundaries, enforcing them, and learning to say no sometimes (I still struggle with that last one).

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?

Oh definitely! I used to look at people that woke up to exercise before sunrise as being superhumans or aliens. Then me and my flat mate felt a bit unhappy with our routines, so we enforced a change. We would: 

  • wake up everyday at 6am
  • go for a run
  • do a HIIT session
  • come home and have a healthy breakfast

The first days were hard, but the energy boost you get for the entire day makes it so, so worth it.

This also helps massively with mental health: going out, working out, starting the day without a mobile phone and a doom scroll. I can’t help but recommend it to everyone.

I think all it takes is to have someone holding us accountable. So go out, find a mate, do something healthy for your body and your mind.

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?

I started reading books by The School of Life, they changed my approach to everyday interactions. They also have some very good YouTube videos.

Another book I absolutely love and recommend is Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. It helps put things into perspective and take a step back from the chaos of everyday life.

Podcasts-wise, I feel like listening to successful entrepreneur stories can help balance your thoughts when you are trying to build something new. My go-to are How I Built This and Masters of Scale.

And newsletters, one I love receiving and reading calmly is Scott Galloway’s No Mercy / No Malice.

Overall, I would not say I have found balance just yet, I still work too much in my own opinion, and I think too much about work, but I do it because I am passionate about the project.

Although I am improving, setting more boundaries, saying no to more things.

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?

Work: do something you are passionate about, and you will be successful. Hard work pays off, and to work hard without it being too painful, you need to be doing something you believe in.

Life: treat others as you would like to be treated. Smile, be nice to strangers, we all go through a lot in life and the world would be a better place if we all acted as kindly towards strangers as we would towards friends. But don’t let your guard down and be taken advantage of while doing so. It’s all about balance.

Balance: third time’s the charm: set boundaries and enforce them. If you do not, others will not respect them for you, and you will find yourself overwhelmed.

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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.