Balancing the Grind with Nathan Lee, Community & Partnerships Lead at HEX

Nathan Lee, the Community & Partnerships Lead at HEX, has a story that spans continents and industries, starting from his roots in Darwin, Australia, where he was born as the eldest of four siblings. 

From internships in fin-tech to leadership roles in ed-tech and co-founding his own startup, Stint, Nathan’s journey reflects a dynamic blend of entrepreneurship and dedication. As he navigates the complex world of managing community and partnerships at HEX, his story offers insights into balancing a thriving career with personal passions like soccer, providing a unique perspective on maintaining work-life harmony.

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

I was born in Darwin, Australia as the eldest of four siblings. My parents moved to Australia from Malaysia and Timor Leste and their journey has instilled in me a strong desire to seize every opportunity that comes my way and to positively impact the world. In 2020, I moved to Melbourne to study a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Melbourne, where I majored in Accounting and Finance. 

I’ve worked at large corporations such as BDO and Deloitte. But my passion lies in the roles I have held in the Australian startup ecosystem across fin-tech, ed-tech and more. My first internship was at a fin-tech startup called Pelikin, before I moved into an Operations Manager at an ed-tech startup called Bookbot. 

As my interest in startups heightened throughout my degree, I became president of the University of Melbourne’s largest social entrepreneurship club called Enactus and co-founded my own startup with 3 friends called Stint – an online community and job platform that is a single place for international students to find jobs they are eligible for, and for employers to hire diverse, multilingual international talent. My work with Stint saw me named the 7News Young Achiever of the Year for Victoria which was a nice recognition of the work I am doing in the impact space.

As I was finishing up my university degree, I joined HEX, an award-winning Australian ed-tech startup, as a Community and Events Producer. I’m currently leading Community and Partnerships, where my role is focused on managing and growing our community of alumni and ecosystem friends, as well as building new partnerships for HEX within the high school sector. 

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

The first thing I do after I wake up is head straight into the shower to wake myself up. Afterwards, I normally have a light breakfast consisting of a large glass of water with either fruit or cereal (or a UP&GO if I’m running behind). 

I spend my mornings organising my email inbox – deleting/archiving any unnecessary emails to remove the clutter, following up on any leads and checking in on our current partners. My next priority is writing my daily standup which will help me write down my to-do list for the day and communicate that to the rest of the team. 

As an external-focused role, I’ll typically have meetings scheduled throughout the day and will find time in between meetings to work on our partnership collateral, write partnership announcements or engage with our community. 

After clocking off at HEX, I’ll take some time to decompress, relax and have dinner. In the evening, I’ll get stuck into working on my start-up Stint where I’ll focus on strategy, partnerships and sales. 

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

For me, I see work-life balance like a pie chart where you have 4 main sections: 

  • Work (Full-time job and my startup)
  • Social (Friends and family)
  • Physical (Soccer and Gym)
  • Mental (Time for myself)

I try to be conscious of how much time I’m spending on each category and use my calendar before the start of each week to get a sense of where I will be spending most of my time. If I’ve got a work-heavy week ahead, I’ll make sure to schedule some more time for the other categories to ensure I get as best of a balance as I can (if it’s not in my calendar, I’ll likely forget it!). 

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?

This year I made the commitment to dust off the boots and join a soccer club in Melbourne. There are two training sessions a week and a game on the weekend – forcing me to block off time to spend on my physical and mental health.

I found that last year, I would spend most of my waking hours thinking about work, whether that be for HEX or Stint and prioritising it over other aspects of my life.  This led me to feeling burnt out so I’ve found it beneficial to be able to switch off from work and focus on playing the sport I love! 

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?

Some resources I’d recommend are:

  • The Diary of a CEO Podcast: Authentic and unfiltered stories from influential people
  • Vinh Giang: Professional communication and presentation skills
  • Sahil Bloom: Strategies and insights to find fulfilment 

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?

Remember that everyone is doing life for the first time, so make sure to give yourself and others grace! It’s not been easy for me to navigate the challenges that come with your early career, founding a startup or finding work-life balance – but I’ve learned to use all my different experiences as opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. 

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.