Balancing the Grind with Nandini Joshi, Chief Operating Officer at StashAway

Nandini Joshi is the Chief Operating Officer at StashAway, a digital wealth manager that intelligently navigates macroeconomic data, not the market ups and downs.

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

I studied Computer Science at university and worked at Cisco Systems for the first 3 yrs of my career as an engineer. But then I decided to go to business school to pivot my career. I knocked on every little and big door of Louis Vuitton for 6 months till they agreed to interview me and I joined them a few months after I finished B School.

After a decade with them in France, Middle East and India (my last role was Country Manager India), I moved to Private Equity based in Singapore. After 2 years in PE, I knew I wanted to go back into a company because I didn’t like sitting on the sidelines.

I joined a start-up as Head of Strategy which was later bought by Sephora and I stayed on to help build their digital business in SEA-AU-NZ. Post Sephora, I was itching to go back into a start-up. And then the COO opportunity at StashAway materialised and that’s where I’ve been for almost 3 yrs now. 

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

It tends to be varied as I manage 3 business units and countries. I keep weekly 1:1s, confined to Monday or Tuesday and then Wednesday and Thursday for key projects that I want to follow closely or where the team may need coaching and external meetings.

I leave an open hour everyday so people don’t need to scramble in my calendar if they need something urgently from me. Friday is usually for deep work. We have Async Fridays at StashAway which means you should ideally not have regularly scheduled meetings that day and focus on deep work. I fight tooth and nail to keep most of it. 

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

I try to keep clear goals in my personal life as well so I know what I want to make time for which results in a work-life balance. Two things are non-negotiable for me: daily walk/workout in the morning and 7pm-8:30pm with the family.

My kids are teens and pre-teen so that’s the only time they are willing to give me and I have to be there. Post Covid, I added a third goal which is to spend maximum kids holidays with grandparents and in nature. So I have been working remotely for about 8 weeks a year since last year. 

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

I’ve only been on one social media platform for over 5 years and my phone is always on silent and notification free. But last year I clubbed my apps into purposes and got rid of everything that didn’t serve something that I needed.

I also put a 15 mins timer on Instagram because that app can make you lose your wits! I also got into Audible as I walk a lot and it’s helped me get through an additional 2 books a month. 

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

Since COVID, I moved entirely to non-work related books. Two of my recent reads that I loved were: Gospel of the Eels and Elton John’s Me. My podcasts are more work related. Breaking Banks is a great one but I also like Radical Candor. One newsletter I read every week is Scott Galloway’s No Mercy/No Malice. He is an amazing story teller. 

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

Probably someone like Sanna Marin or Jacinda Ardern.  

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

I think everything starts with goals and what makes you feel great at the end of the day. Once you know that, be ready to fight for it every day.

Any balance in life comes from paying attention to the micro decisions we sometimes don’t give much thought to but they cumulatively derail us. Not feeling tired is not my goal. I want to feel tired at the end but I want to know it was for the right reasons – whether work or family or friends.  

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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.