Nick Wong is the Head of Australia at Momos, a modern OS for restaurants, working with some of the biggest restaurants in APAC & globally including Shake Shack, Guzman y Gomez, Salad Stop, Lo & Behold and many more.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My current role is launching and leading a business called Momos in Australia. We are an early stage, VC backed company HQ’d in Singapore, on a mission to empower food/restaurant businesses with the tools they need to manage and grow their restaurant digitally.
My career started down a very traditional path, spending 5 years in banking in Sydney – before making a big pivot changing industries, countries and roles. The full trifecta!
I joined Uber in Singapore as part of their operations team just as they were launching UberEats across APAC. I ended up spending a total of 4 years in the region – transitioning to Grab after Uber sold their South East Asian business to them. At Grab, I was involved in launching their food and then grocery delivery businesses and spent a lot of time in their biggest market, Indonesia – which was a fun, intense and unique opportunity!
At the start of last year, in the midst of COVID-19, I moved back home to Sydney with my young family to lead operations at Zoomo (electric mobility scaleup). It was a great, eye-opening experience, into the complex world of scaling hardware. And then as of last month, I decided to get back into the food-tech space which I’m very passionate about – joining as employee number 1 in Australia for Momos!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Having a young daughter who is 2 and a half, the day starts early – around 6am. My wife and I take turns doing child care dropoff and then after a morning coffee – the workday starts.
Given the infancy stage of the business – the workday is extremely varied. It typically starts by checking Slack messages that have come in overnight (Momos has team members across Asia, Middle East and the US). Then there are a whole range of activities that I would bucket into 3 broad categories:
- Customer facing: getting more customers and keeping existing customers happy.
- Company building: everything from setting up a legal entity, to interviewing candidates, to building local partnerships, to a bunch of internal meetings
- Product building: working closely with our engineering and product teams on new feature releases (we update our platform weekly!), bug fixes and roadmap prioritisation.
Work days typically take an important pause between 5PM – 7:30 PM~ish, for the daily childcare pickup, dinner and bedtime routine.
Afterwards, I log in at night to clear some more emails/Slacks and then depending on the evening, rotate between:
- Getting in some deep work if needed
- Catching up on the latest NBA highlights, or the latest TV series my wife and I are invested in
- Life admin
Finally – bedtime is around 11pm, optimistically hoping that sleep doesn’t get interrupted too much by my daughter.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely – given I’m the only Momos employee in Australia right now, I have a home/rotating cafe office setup.
More broadly, flexible working to me is extremely important. I’ve found the best way for me to be productive and effective is to be happy and in an environment where I can make work, work for me!
I’ve realised over time that for me, a hybrid approach of in-office + remote is best.
Also, I really believe management expectations and focus should be on delivering results, in a way that is collaborative and in line with company culture and values, rather than adherence to some arbitrary and prescriptive working schedule.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work life balance to me means figuring out a way in which you can achieve both your professional and personal goals in life.
I definitely don’t think I have a magic formula to this but being clear about what you are not willing to compromise on in your personal life, for me has been a good starting point.
In my case – that is making sure there is enough family time throughout the week – whether that’s doing kid swimming lessons on Monday morning, or making sure I’m doing the bedtime routine at least 3 x work nights a week.
From my personal experience, the additional complexity around this topic is how to “achieve” work life balance if you also have a partner that is working full-time and has their own personal and professional goals.
I’ve learned the hard way that over communication is key! For my wife and I, a big thing is communicating on our schedules and being clear on our availability during mornings and evenings – so we can juggle our professional and personal responsibilities on a daily basis.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
One focus has been trying to be more present during family time and not multitasking – which is an easy trap to fall into, in the world of smartphones and Slack.
An example of a habit that we have implemented at home to help with this is making sure phones are away during family dinner time.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
- Range by David Epstein: came out a few years ago but provides an interesting perspective on the evolving nature of professional careers and work experience, in an engaging way.
- More work related: I’m a classicist so can’t go past How I built this with Guy Raz and Invest like the Best with Patrick O’Shaughnessy
- Not work related: The Ringer Network’s collection of pop culture podcasts (The Watch, The Big Picture, The Rewatchables) and for NBA fans – The Lowe Post is the best thing out there!
Newsletter: easy, the best in the business to me is Benedict Evans.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I swear by my Google Pixel! Would recommend it to anyone.
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?
Remember – you only live once (I think!)
So I always tell people when they are trying to make decisions about potential career changes – try to be clear about what you want to get out of your time at work, your personal life, and why.
Maximise spending time with people you actually enjoy or want to spend time with, and do things at work that you think will get you closer to getting what you want out of your career.
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