In our interview with Nakshathra Suresh, the dynamic co-founder of eiris, she shares her journey from criminologist to tech entrepreneur, and how she juggles her varied roles with a mindful approach to work-life balance.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
Hi there! I am a criminologist (having completed both my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in the field), researcher and have also worked in the federal public sector in mid-level senior roles.
I wear a few hats now as:
- The co-founder of an online safety startup called ‘eiris’. Our aim is to create better and safer environments for users of digital communities.
- An affiliate for the non-profit organisation ‘All Tech Is Human’ – where I continue to amplify the responsible tech movement, advocating for a safer, more equitable, and more inclusive tech future aligned with the public interest.
- An advocate at the intersectionality of cyber safety, mental health and activism – I do this by speaking at events, podcasts and webinars.
- In my spare time, I also choreograph and teach dance.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
A typical day as a founder is the most untypical of all! Since our meetings with stakeholders, experts and other founders are all over the world, we often have to accommodate based on time zones. My co-founder and I also work in other roles so we have to maintain flexibility and ensure either one of us, or both, are available for the meetings. Some days are super busy, and some days are not so busy, so we ensure we slot work around our life and not the other way around.
A recent workday involved meetings from 9am to midday. I usually reserve my lunchtime in my calendar as it is important I eat at the right time. I usually finish most of my meetings by 3-3.30pm and then I head off to complete life administration or get a workout in. Sometimes I have meetings and/or webinars from 7pm onwards so I organise my day accordingly. Amidst all of these meetings, I try to ensure that I am reflecting on each meeting and chasing up on any action items that I have in a timely manner.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
In my previous life (pre-founder phase), I’m ashamed to say I had no work-life balance. I would constantly think about work, even when I was hanging out with my family and friends, or dread Monday more than the average corporate worker when it rolled over to Sunday night. I realised my job was consuming most (if not, all of) my brain capacity because I was unable to turn off ‘work mode’ because I was always stressed.
Work-life balance to me is the ability to switch off ‘work mode’ and be fully invested in life, for what it is and gives you. Setting my own hours has been the best and most crucial part of this balance. I ensure I set aside time every day (when I can) to accommodate life things between the 9-5 schedule (like appointments and/or other administration) just in case something comes up. I also check the following week in advance to ensure my day isn’t too busy and there is sufficient time in between meetings and webinars in case one rolls over into another.
Having a fantastic co-founder (shoutout to Hannah!) has helped in this way, because we lean on and leverage each other’s skills and abilities to maximise all the opportunities that we get. We are also in regular communication and have weekly check-ins to ensure that we are not feeling overwhelmed by the founder journey as well as other things we have going on in our lives.
I strongly believe that if you are privileged enough, work should not consume your life. No job is worth the trials and tribulations of compromising your mental and physical wellbeing.
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?
Absolutely. I believe health and fitness is extremely important so I’ve started going to the gym more frequently – which has definitely improved the energy that I have for my work. It helps me sleep easier as well, which is always important. A rested mind brings on more ideas and passion to tackle the challenges head on.
I have also started incorporating mindfulness and gratitude by consistently journalling and taking myself out on solo ventures (like reading in a cafe, going for a walk etc.). It’s important that I don’t get clouded in the noise that is work, especially as a founder. Encountering hurdles and obstacles will always be a part of any job, but spending time with myself has ensured that I can identify the difference between genuine weaknesses or self-sabotaging thoughts.
The last lifestyle change I made was to travel more. By being exposed to the different cultures and traditions, I am able to carve out my place in the world. I feel as though I am more of a well-rounded person as I can approach any work situation from multiple angles and perspectives. Plus, travel is always fun!
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 don’t have any particular recommendations for any resources that have helped me on my journey towards balance specifically. I usually stick to searching up TED Talks or YouTube videos on specific topics that I would like advice on, or resources/articles that come across my page on LinkedIn.
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?
Everyone’s perception of the balance of work and life will be different. For some, they might want 60% of work and 40% of life, and others might want an equal 50% balance. And that is okay! The most important thing is holding yourself accountable to the goals and passions you wish to achieve in this lifetime. Discipline is extremely important, but make sure that you don’t fill your cup with too many things. Make what works for you, actually work for you.
You only get one chance at life so make sure you maximise your potential through showing up for yourself – that will make you a better worker, leader, friend, family member and human being. And remember, life is all about evolution. Believe in yourself, be your own best friend and always trust the process!