Neekhil Shah is a Principal at McGing Advisory & Actuarial, an independent boutique advisory firm working with directors, executives and their teams.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I have always had a passion for problem solving and loved maths. After completing my degree in mathematics and computer science in London, I wanted to practically apply what I love at work. So I embarked on a career to become a consulting actuary in the UK.
After completing a large number of gruelling actuarial exams whilst working full time, my partner and I determined to see the world and that brought us to Australia and we have been here since 2008.
Currently, I am a Principal at McGing Advisory & Actuarial. My role sees me providing actuarial, investment and advisory support to a number of life insurance friendly societies, not for profits and superannuation funds.
I love the work and the people I work with. There is a wonderful energy in the team to work together to solve problems.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I make a habit to have a good night’s sleep so I am refreshed every morning. First thing in the morning is playtime with my 4 year old daughter, followed by a short family yoga routine. This warm and fun start to the morning means that I can concentrate on my work with 100% attention.
A large part of my day is involved with meetings with my team to guide them to be able to prepare their work to the best of their ability. I also spend time speaking to my clients regularly to give status updates and key messages.
I also spend a lot of time writing reports, checking he work done by team. I take time to either go for a walk at lunchtime if I am not teaching a yoga class in my break.
After work, it is usually a rush to make dinner, spend some time with my daughter and get her to bed.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Pre Co-VID, I was working from home 2 days a week. Currently it is 5 days at home. This lets me take time to do kinder drop off and pick-ups, less time commuting to spend more time either working or with my family.
Remote working is fantastic as when I need time to think, I have quiet and space to do so.
Some days, I continue to work after dinner or on weekends to meet deadlines and clear the deck for the day ahead. Conversely ,if things are not too hectic, I may have more time to spend with the family on a weekday as long as I feel that the team is able to continue their work.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To me, it means creating segments of my day that are work time and non-work time. It can be difficult because with emails coming to the phone at all times, that the distinction becomes blurred and that is where the danger of remote working reduces work-life balance.
What works for me is having the discipline to go for a walk or exercise every day, turning my phone off – not just from work, but from all incoming notifications and calls! I want to spend time with my family that is uninterrupted and also have the time to see friends and family.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Between a small group friends, we have set up an exercise and social group. Anyone is welcome to join the group as long as they participate.
Every Saturday, we meet to work out online using zoom – whether it is a high intensity workout, yoga, learning a dance routine – taught by someone in the group.
We also support each other to do more exercise, discuss issues that are close to people’s hearts, such as the Black Lives Matter movement, and have one-on-one talks to help each other through any difficult times.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I highly recommend listening to or watching talks from the Sadhguru – founder of the Isha foundation.
He is a great communicator and explains yoga philosophy in a simple digestible manner.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube. She is just fantastic to do a short yoga class that is easily accessible.
The Headspace app is also a great resource for short 10-15 minute windows to practice mindfulness and reduce the noise inside the head
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Create diarised and scheduled breaks in your day where the time is dedicated to an activity that you want to do. Otherwise they may not happen.
Whether it’s a conversation with a colleague over a coffee, a walk, a gym class (even online), time with your family. Make life fit around your work schedule and treat that time as important as any scheduled work meetings.
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