HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Michelle Crocker, VP of People & Culture at Zoomo

Michelle Crocker is the VP of People & Culture at Zoomo, an e-bike start-up based in Australia and operating across the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia.

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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 a wide-eyed and bushy-tailed lawyer at King & Wood Mallesons in the Projects M&A team. After 4 years in law, I transitioned in management consulting where I spent another 4+ years at Bain & Company. I worked on awesome projects, with brilliant people, did some really random tasks and made lifelong friends along the way.

I spent time on organisational design and the future of work cases which is what really cemented my path towards People & Culture. I’m now the Vice President of People & Culture at Zoomo. 4 weeks into the role and I’m loving it – I’ve joined a team of absolute rockstars at a critical point in Zoomo’s journey and I’m excited to take Zoomo to the next stage of its people mission.

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

Last year my husband and I had a little boy so life looks very different (in the best possible way) these days and balance has taken on a new meaning! It’s my apprenticeship of being a working parent and I still have a lot to learn.

But a typical days looks like this:

My alarm (my son) goes off at about 6.00am. On Mondays and Thursdays, I hang out with my son in the morning and take him to / from day care (Tuesdays and Fridays are my husband). We’ve found that splitting the week like that creates the most balance across the week and allows us to plan work/life more easily.

Before either of us get out of our pjs, we go outside and say good morning to all the things we can see: birds, trees, the vacuum (my son’s newest obsessions). It’s the quietest 5 minutes of the day and one of my favourite times.

We then get dressed for the day and have breakfast together while listening to my Funk Morning playlist (working on a more kid appropriate one). That’s followed by my son entirely emptying out the contents of the tupperware cupboard while I clean up his high chair. I take him to daycare, go for a quick walk to grab a coffee and try to start my day by 8.30am.

I pick up my son at 5pm from day care, give him dinner and hang out (ideally outside) until bath time where we blast “Under the Sea” plus other Disney bangers and splash about. We always video call a family member or friend during dinner so they can “eat” with us and get some quality time (we have no direct family in Sydney so this is a pretty important part of the day).

I’ll then have dinner with my husband, divide and conquer some life/house admin and log back on work for an hour or two to get some deep thinking done and prep for the next day (I find that time is most productive for me away from the noise and distractions during the day). On days where I’m not on day care duties, I try to log off just before his bath for the night because I start pretty early.

One thing I’m still trying to figure out in being a new working parent is when and how to consistently incorporate exercise. Very open to any tips!

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

I have a pretty flexible working structure. I work part time (4 days a week) with Wednesdays off and aim for a hybrid model where I spend 2 days WFH and 2 days in the office. It’s an important part of my role and sanity to spend some time away from my office at home.

On days where I’m on day care pick up, I stop working at 4.30pm to hang out with my son and will only get back online post bath and dinner.

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

Sustainability for me is mainly driven by hours – how many hours I’m working, sleeping, exercising. On any given week, one of those things is usually sacrificed because in all honesty, it’s hard to balance it all.

What I create pretty immoveable boundaries for is spending quality time with my family and friends – that means no phone, truly experiencing the world through the eyes of a 1 year old and sharing a delicious meal over many laughs with family and friends.

A few tricks I’ve learned over the years to help create a small amount of balance: timeboxing work tasks, openly blocking out time in my calendar for family time, removing notifications off my phone after hours (my team know to call), using the bus commute to just watch the world go by and investing in a robot vacuum.

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

“Sleep hygiene” – credit to my husband – no phones in the room, shower before bed, ideally 7+ hours of sleep and a consistent bedtime. I’ve also started batching when I respond to personal texts and emails to once a day, gotten seriously into meal planning and have limited myself to one activity a day on the weekend (I’m typically the kind of person who is most productive when super busy, so I cram way too much into my life which creates what I believe to be fun chaos).

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

Some podcasts: Smartless (for belly-aching laughs), Wind of Change or Hunting Warhead (for a long road trip), Good Inside (for parenting tips)

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

The 1SE app (I’m useless at taking photos so this app is a great forcing function to take one 1 second video a day) and a robot vacuum.

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

I would like future me to figure it all out and then send their interview back in time to present me.

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

“Da seaweed is always greener in somebody else’s lake” – opening line from “Under The Sea” and sage advice from Sebastian the lobster. Don’t compare yourself to others; balance is hard and you have to find out what works for you.

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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.