Balancing the Grind with Michelle Hutchison, Chief Operating Officer at Schebesta Ventures

Michelle Hutchison, Chief Operating Officer at Schebesta Ventures, a coaching and development business launched by Fred Schebesta, the co-founder of Finder.

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

I studied arts/media at university and had no idea what I wanted to do so I did a lot of work experience and internships at media companies. This is where I found a passion for the media industry and started my career as a journalist.

I worked in the newsroom of 2GO and Sea FM, and NBN News on the Central Coast before landing my first full time gig as Associate Editor of Property Australia Magazine. I was promoted to editor very quickly and that was a goal I thought would take several years to reach.

So I set out to find a new goal and found myself obsessed with the strategic creativity behind public relations. An opportunity came up for a PR Manager role and I jumped at it. I’ve worked in communications for the past decade and have been at comparison website Finder for over seven years.

I started heading up the Australian PR team, and moved to a global role in 2015 when Finder launched internationally. I set up our PR strategy in other countries like the US and UK, helped set up offices and explored other markets with missions to Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea with Fred Schebesta, Founder of Finder.

We launched a venture capital arm, Finder Ventures, in 2018 and I moved over to this team, which launches and incubates new business ideas.

I’ve just started a new role, as Chief Operating Officer of Schebesta Ventures, which is a coaching and development business, to help empower people to reach unimaginable success.

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

I start my weekdays at 5.45am before everyone else in my household is awake. Unless the kids come into our bed for a snuggle.

Jump online for the latest news and trends while sculling a piccolo, before driving the kids to school at 7.30am. I divide half my week working from the office and working from home.

Since we re-opened our Sydney office, it’s a volunteer basis so we can work from home or in the office as much or little as we like. Although we’ve always been super flexible, I’ve really enjoyed working several days a week from home where I can have complete flexibility over my week. 

I’ll start on my computer from 8am with a banana and raspberry smoothie (or mango if they’re in season), and check emails, social platforms, schedules, and follow up on pitches. I’ll check in with my team at 9am and plan the priorities and goals for the day.

Every day is incredibly different, as several new opportunities arise for Fred. These might include media interviews, coaching people or businesses, brand endorsements or business ideas.

I might be editing content for, reviewing Fred’s popular newsletter The Weekly with Fred Schebesta, creating a campaign idea, meetings on zoom or in person when I’m in town, strategic planning, designing merch, and directing Fred in video content and photo shoots.

Most days, I’ll try to find a gap to go for a run or do a YouTube class of Les Mills Body Combat when I’m at home, or a gym session in the city. I’m one of those people who work on the bus to and from the office.

Whether I’m home or coming home, I’ll stop working at about 5.30pm to help with dinner and putting kids to bed. Most nights from 8-11pm you’ll find me on my computer building this exciting new venture!

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

Work-life balance is very important to me. I’m obsessed with my work because it’s so fun, but I listen to my body when I’m physically or mentally tired and need to take a break.

Eating well and exercise are a key part of my daily routine as it gives me energy and keeps my mood high all day and night. I need to look after my body to be able to make it through my crazy days!

When I overdo it, usually from lack of sleep, I get a sleep debt where I need a big sleep or a nap on the weekend to recover. Then I’m ready to go again!

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

I noticed while in lockdown I wasn’t eating well. I think it was because lunch is provided in the office so when I was at home I wasn’t prepared. I would work until 2pm and I would be starving, and would grab a box of crackers.

It was catching up to me so I changed my whole diet and lost 6kg. I also needed to make an effort to exercise when I’m working from home because I noticed I was becoming quite stiff and sore from not moving as much.

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

My top newsletters are The Hustle and The Weekly with Fred Schebesta. I love newsletters that don’t spam your inbox every day and do the hard sell. It has to be about storytelling and learning something new.

My favourite books are The Everything Store by Brad Stone, Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg and Thrive by Arianna Huffington. I learnt so much from these books and came away with loads of ideas to implement in my work and my life.

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

My phone and laptop. I go everywhere with them and love how I can do almost everything I need to do from my phone. I also use Slack and WhatsApp everyday, and Google Docs which are perfect for collaboration and saving work in a shared drive. I’m also addicted to Canva. It is the most incredible design tool and can make anything look good.

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

Arianna Huffington. Fred and I met her at a Business Chicks lunch in Beverly Hills in 2015 and she spoke about studies on sleep and work-life balance, and some strategies she uses to look after herself. Sleep – or lack of sleep – is one of the biggest issues in the USA. T

here are sleep clinics all over the country to help people have a better night sleep, and sleeping tablets and aids is a huge market. Arianna was on a mission to help people improve their work-life balance and talked about sleep pods in the office. When Fred and I came home we ordered couches in all of our offices and people often took a rest on them.

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

I’m always in a constant struggle for balancing work and life but I think it comes down to a balance that’s right for you. I always encourage people to work as hard as you possibly can, whether that’s exercise goals, mastering a craft or performing your best work. The more you put in, the faster you can accelerate your career and your life. As long as you can find the right balance.

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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.