Growth / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Matthew Waugh, Head of Growth & Partnerships at Conexie

Matthew Waugh is the co-founder and Head of Growth & Partnerships at Conexie, a communication platform that makes managing groups of people with common goals more efficient.

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

While pursuing a career in professional sport I worked in a range of roles across marketing and media. In the process of completing my Management degree, I held the role of National Marketing Coordinator at Channel 9.

This experience exposed me to the world of business in an extremely fast paced environment. From there I became an executive for Australia’s premier sports licensing agency, VBM.

My career took a turn in this role as I was headhunted by an industrial chemical company based in Asia, I spent two years as a business manager there, working on a multinational ERP design and roll out project.

Although I loved my time there I decided that I wanted to engage in community work more and had ambitions to start my own venture. I left Asia and took on a position with FRNSW as a professional firefighter, it was there that I met my soon-to-be co-founder for Conexie.

Fast forward 3 years and we have a funded, revenue generating communication platform where my role is Head of growth and partnerships.

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

NOTE: This was pre-COVID life.

We start our mornings with a gym session and an informal chat between the 3 founders to see what we have for the day and what we may need to lean on each other to execute.

After this typically, I go for coffee with our head of sales to review our pipeline/prospect opportunities and generally polish our offering, occasionally touching up some of our collateral.

If this has all gone well, use the time before lunch to catch up on emails and conduct some market research and to see if there is anything new or exciting we could put in our roadmap.

Afternoons are spent with our product team to see what feedback our clients are providing and see if there is any relationship management that can be embarked upon.

Evenings are spent with further catch ups between the founders and sometimes our advisors to see what was done that day, what needs to be done this week, month, quarter. Just to keep us all on track and motivated to achieve our goals.

Post-COVID: Similar structure but the gym and coffees are done solo.

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

My current role does allow for remote working, it has actually been really rewarding during this period to spend more time with my 4month old and my partner.

We actually live 6h from Sydney so not having to commute weekly to Sydney has been a massive blessing for the family and although testing for the team to keep focused so far we have managed to exceed targets for 2020!

It has also given me the time to work on our property which has provided a different kind of satisfaction and allowed me to feel reinvigorated when in the business mindset.

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

I have kept my position with FRNSW which entails 2x24h shifts per 8 days. These days at the fire station although technically are work, provide a huge balancing mindset for me and for our team.

Those two days I have to focus on serving the community in an environment that is so detached from the world of business. Our purpose as firefighters is strictly to make the worst day of someone’s life as good as possible with our skill sets.

Usually after having these days to think about others and not about financial goals and sales setbacks, it has helped develop a culture of resilience in our teams, sometimes when founding a business it can feel like your world is in a really dark place because of some bad results with your venture endeavours.

Working with the emergency services acts as a perspective auditor, you can see that others are going through things much worse than losing a sale and carrying on with their lives, if they can, so can our team!

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

As I have recently had a baby, one of the biggest things that changed in my life was my ability to be in the moment, allowing the time away from work not to be consumed by emails/calls and all other tasks that can easily eat into time that should be focused on other things.

A big tip that I could give anyone reading would be to set rules on your availability, it seems like people would not accept this at first but once implemented you find that when you value your time enough to restrict it, others actually value it more also. It is a game changer!

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

By far the best book I have read and the most rewarding for the mindset of a founder has been The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz.

It breaks down management through crisis, not management through rose colour glasses. Hugely insightful and I can attest to using the guide on more than one occasion with our startup Conexie’s strategy.

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

Not a product or an app but i definitely couldn’t live without my dogs Sin and Cody! Having companions that light up at the sight of you and only need your attention to be happy are a great balancing tool from a world that demands more and more from people while giving them less in return! Highly recommend getting a 4 legged co-founder for your life!

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

Corey Norman – He is a professional NRL player and a founder of YKTR clothing brand.

Managing to balance the heavy workload that professional sport demands with a consumer brand would be impossible if that brand didn’t represent his personality. His success is because people believe in his way of life not because his shirts are necessarily better than the next brand.

This is how I think the future of brands should be, live your venture and people will show belief through consumption, rather than trying to convince those people to consume something that only represents thousands of marketing dollars.

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

Take time to enjoy the highs when the roller coaster goes up but also take time to understand the lows and learn from them as they are inevitable.

If you can grow from the lows and recharge from the highs, I think you will be able to live a sustainable and successful life in both business and leisure.

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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.