Balancing the Grind with Mollie Eckersley, Head of Operations at BrightHR

Meet Mollie Eckersley, the Head of Operations at BrightHR. With a background that zigzags from law to leadership within some of the most dynamic companies across continents, Mollie’s story is nothing short of a rollercoaster ride. 

Mollie walks us through a day in her life, from early beach runs to problem-solving marathons, and shares her unique take on achieving a harmonious work-life balance amidst the hustle. With insights into embracing change and recommendations for staying inspired, this interview is a peek into the world of a leader who blends passion with purpose.

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

A journey is definitely the best way to describe my career so far, complete with twists and turns! 

I graduated with a law degree and when COVID-19 hit I landed a job at Peninsula as a paralegal in the UK. After about six months I was made lead paralegal, and six months later I was team leader. 

After two years at Peninsula, I wanted something that was going to challenge me more and what would be the next step in my career. I also wanted to move to Australia, because I lived here when I was studying and fell head over heels. An opportunity opened up for both of those through a transfer to Peninsula’s local company, Employsure Australia, and I was thrilled to get the job. 

Ten months later at Employsure the opportunity to become the Operations Manager at BrightHR, our SaaS HR platform, came up. I learned about the role, and it was so aligned with my strengths. It was just me to a T—I love problem-solving and that’s what this whole job is. Figuring out where the problems lie and solving them.

Now it’s been six months, I’m the Head of Operations. I’m currently up to improving usage and engagement, giving attention to those areas of the business that need it, and continuing to problem solve and make our software and service better for the SMEs we offer time-saving, reliable support to all around the world. 

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

This is a cliche, but it’s a cliche for a reason—truly no day is the same. 

I generally stick to a routine to start my workdays. I’m an early riser and a coffee addict so that’s how I start the day as I check my work phone to see if anything urgent has come through from our offices in the UK. Then I go for a run up and down the beach; sometimes I’ll also have a quick swim before work (perks of living in Sydney!).

Standout days for me are Mondays and Fridays. Every other Monday we induct new starters to the business, which I love because that’s when I get to see new faces and set the tone for everything to come. 

Fridays are always fun because we have a team standup with sales and service. This happens first thing in the morning and it’s such a good start to the day, reflecting on the week, celebrating the wins and noting the points of improvement.

Once a month we have a Town Hall where everyone across all teams comes together. It’s those times that make me appreciate working in an office as opposed to working from home.

While work days are pretty full on, I make sure I stick to some kind of routine, so for me it’s taking a lunch break every day and I make it a point to leave my desk, go outside, and get some sun, and fresh air. It helps me reset and clear my mind ahead of my afternoon. 

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

I like to think of work-life balance as something that’s always evolving. It looks different for everyone, and it’s definitely taken different forms for me over the years.

At the beginning of my career, I wasn’t balancing the two well. I could feel myself running ragged and burning out. When I noticed that, I had to consciously rethink my approach; I realised that I love what I do and I enjoy it. That’s when I knew work-life balance for me has to be about setting boundaries to make sure I can keep loving what I do.

I’m always available to the local team and consistently checking in with the international teams because I don’t want to miss anything urgent or be a roadblock holding anyone back. But I won’t open my laptop on the weekend (although I am known to unlock my work phone), I align my meetings so they’re not scattered all over my calendar, I take my full lunch break, and I reserve my evenings for myself. That’s how I make things easy for me and for everyone I work with.  

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?

Moving to Australia was definitely a huge improvement in my lifestyle! On top of that, I’ve embraced the value of structure.

I swear by waking up early because it gives me time to myself before work. I’ve found that waking up and immediately getting ready for work and making my mornings all about that doesn’t set me up for success. I need to relax in the morning so I go for a run, and after work, I’ll go to the gym to unwind.

I’m very motivated by upping my game and setting myself apart through my work, and following my routine keeps me in the best headspace to do that. 

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?

Balance is about mindset to me, and I think my recommended resources are a reflection of that.

I love listening to podcasts on my way to work, and I pick something that sets me up for my day. If I find that I’m feeling stressed and getting in my head about things, I listen to comedy podcasts like The Inspired Unemployed to take a breather.

A book I love is Grit by Angela Duckworth, that’s really changed my day-to-day approach.

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?

So much of your life and time is spent at work, so what’s the point if you don’t enjoy it? It’s enjoyment that energises me and makes me passionate about my work. Workplace culture ties into that, I thrive being around people in the office and collaborating. When it comes to work, my words of wisdom are that you need to love what you do otherwise you’re in the wrong job.

Equally important is to prioritise and enjoy what you do outside of work and not compromise your personal life for work. Keep engaging in your interests and spend time doing what you love to do in your everyday life. Ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to balance so finding what works for you is key.

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.