Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Nathalie Mann, Co-Founder at Furthr

Nathalie Mann is the co-founder at Furthr, a startup that enables users to fund their next travel adventure by earning money with everyday spending.

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

I have been lucky enough to have studied and worked in different fields. I grew up in Southeast Asia and this had a big impact on how I see the world. While finishing high school in Vietnam I founded a NFP dedicated to helping teenagers understand HIV/AIDS.

I knew I wanted to keep working in this space so decided I wanted to study economics, in particular Southeast Asian Politics. I then studied public health and once I finished my degree was offered a role at the Department of Health in Canberra, it was great- I was able to work amongst some of the country’s best policy makers and learnt a lot.

Working for the Australian public service taught me some invaluable skills from writing minutes, question times brief to dealing with bureaucracy. I worked on some great initiatives including helping write the Australian Diabetes Strategy, working with the Chronic disease task force and then dealing with emerging diseases like Avian Flu.

I then wanted to go back to Academia, and started lecturing in Public Health and Health policy, I was also working at the time in Disability services in NSW, again such a great learning experience.

After this, I took up the role as epidemiologist in Thailand working on a joint initiative between Ausaid and for the Ministry of Health France on a HIV/AIDS program. I worked close to the Thai burmese border and I knew that I wanted to go into Medicine, so I returned to Australia and studied Medicine for a few years.

In my second year of Medicine, I had my first child and I found juggling medicine and having children difficult. I love medicine and it will always hold a special place in my heart but decided to move to Law and finish my MBA.

I worked in various roles within government until I landed a role at Johnson & Johnson. Working at a big corporation was so interesting, it was a completely different pace and environment. Making a lateral move was the right thing to do and am forever thankful to the people I met whilst there.

I had a few more children, studied a bit more, worked in consulting and then co-founded a start-up called FURTHR, which is where I work now. I love the people I work with at FURTHR, they are honestly the nicest and most talented people and have learnt a lot from them.

I love what we are doing, it’s innovative and no day is the same. FURTHR was created to reduce the barriers to travel. We feel that travel is imperative to our lives – investing in new adventures and experiences, switching off from work, unwinding and rejuvenating, and reconnecting with friends and family.

FURTHR is a marketing and loyalty app that turns any existing Visa or Mastercard into a customer’s personal loyalty card.

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

It’s what I call organised chaos. I have 4 kids under 10, my work focuses on FURTHR and part-time on other projects/boards. So everyday varies, but I am usually up around 6 am to get the day ready. I made a timetable recently and it actually helped but then again it’s just a guide and no two days end up being the same.

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

We decided to make FURTHR flexible and remote from the start, my co-founder and I have worked in various environments and we just knew this is what we wanted to do.

It’s not about where you work, how you work or even when you work; but it is about what you deliver. You can be at home with 4 kids or on a tropical island, you can still deliver great work.

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

It’s making time for the important things and knowing when to shut off. I have a policy of not being available for work between the hours of 5.30-8pm (weekdays), I wont pick up the phone, I wont reply to emails. Of course if it’s urgent that’s different but blocking out that time to focus on family is really important. I go back online around 8 if needed.

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

Having a third space. The space between work and family. I used to go straight from one to another, I now take time (about 15/30 minutes) to stop working and just do nothing; just calm my mind. It’s enabled to be focused, be in the room vs thinking about other things. It’s really changed my life.

Another habit is forcing myself to exercise (it’s so hard sometimes) and also reading something that isn’t related to my day to day.

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

I love reading history books, reading a great book called the Anarchy by William Darymple and another book called Mekong by Milton Osborne. One of my favorite books is by Laurie Garrett, called The Coming Plague.

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

I am pretty old school and keep a physical diary. I couldn’t live without it, it helps me manage work and home life. And Post-its! Gadgets: I love my airpods and my ultra wide screen computer monitor. Apps: I can’t live without FURTHR obviously, others I use regularly are DuckDuckGo, Storypark, WhatsApp, and of course TIK TOK.

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

Laurie Garrett.

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

Deciding when, where, and how to be accessible for work is an ongoing challenge- Learn to let things go and that you cannot control everything. AND that’s OK. Ask for help, compromise is not the same as failure. Company culture is so important, and if you are surrounded by the right people it changes your world.

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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.