Balancing the Grind with Paul Hadida, General Manager, Australia at SevenRooms

Paul Hadida is the General Manager, Australia at SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform for the hospitality industry.

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

I am the Australian General Manager for SevenRooms, a data-driven guest experience platform for the hospitality industry.

SevenRooms helps restaurants, bars, cafes and hotels across Australia, and in over 250 cities worldwide, leverage data to provide safe, exceptional and meaningful guest experiences that incentivise loyalty and boost revenue.

The hospitality industry has been hit hard by the pandemic, but venues who understand the importance of guest experience – remembering someone’s name, their allergies, their favourite table – really stand out.

Through SevenRooms they can do that, and my role is driving the business forward in Australia, a market renowned for its vibrant hospitality industry.

It’s a job and an industry that I’m incredibly passionate about, having worked in various roles over the last decade. My hospitality career started when I took over a Sydney cafe called Cafe Cafe.

I had zero previous experience working in hospitality, but had grown up in a family that was passionate about food, and its power to bring people together. It was very different from what I’d done before – real estate – so it was a baptism of fire, but a really rewarding experience and one which allowed me to become closely connected to the local community.

I learned a lot, and it has helped me to truly understand the industry and hospitality operators, their challenges and opportunities, in my current role at SevenRooms.

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

In a year that has been heavily disrupted, I’m a strong believer in the power of routine and the certainty and comfort it provides.

My day starts early, with a 5am run. It’s a particularly beautiful time of day in Sydney, especially at the moment, so it’s a great way to kick off my day. That’s followed by getting my sons, Leo and Ari, up, dressed, fed and off to daycare and school. 

SevenRooms is a global operation, with teams across multiple time zones, so my workday begins with Zoom meetings with the US team, which is followed by a standup with the local team here in Australia.

The rest of the day is then built around client meetings and partnership meetings. After work, I spend time with my family, cooking up a storm in the kitchen! 

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

The benefit of working for a technology company is that we can be incredibly flexible with work — whether in an office or working remotely.

Having launched in Australia earlier this year, we are continuing to hire more roles within our local team, with the goal to open a more permanent office in Sydney. Due to the pandemic, our staff in the US and UK are working entirely remotely.

While Australia is approaching COVID-normal faster than many other countries, remote and flexible work will continue to be a very important consideration for us.  

Personally, working remotely allows me to spend more time with my kids and be present more. Added benefits have also included being able to share the load at home and enjoy things like making dinner on my own schedule rather than in a mad rush. My family is such a big motivating factor for me, and remote work offers a really fulfilling and enjoyable work-life balance. 

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

Work-life balance is incredibly important. In fact, the pursuit of an improved work-life balance was one of the determining factors behind me leaving the cafe to move into the tech ecosystem.

It came to the point where I was getting married and thinking about kids, what was next and whether I wanted to be on that side of the business; working gruelling shifts with anti-social hours.

So I made the decision to move into a different aspect of hospitality, first with Catch of the Day, then Quandoo, and finally now with SevenRooms heading up Australian operations. 

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

My morning runs and training have been a really important part of my routine this year.

It’s a great opportunity to not only have personal time to think, but enjoy the beauty of Sydney. It really allows me to start every day in a great frame of mind. For my workouts I use Aaptiv, which is an awesome personal training app. 

I have also taken my cooking game up a level this year, trying new recipes I never thought I could do! Restaurants and bars are open again, but during lockdown earlier this year, I really committed to taking my culinary skills to the next level.

I make a mean Vodka Rigatoni – thanks to Chef Orazio at Matteo – and if you ask my kids, they’ll say our homemade pizza and taco nights are all time!

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

Catch of the Decade by Gabby and Hezi Leibovich – my former employers at Catch – is a really inspiring story.

It charts their rise from immigrants to billionaires, and is an extremely engaging and inspiring read for any budding entrepreneurs out there. I’d highly recommend it to anyone if they’re looking for a new book to read about scaling a company and entrepreneurship.  

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

My Apple Watch!

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

I’d love to read more about the work-life balance of Arsene Wenger, the recently-retired former Manager of Arsenal Football Club.

Incidentally, I once flew from Sydney to London and back again in three days to see Arsenal play (and win) the FA Cup final. That was perhaps not great for my work-life balance in the short term, but it was absolutely worth it!

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

There is no right or wrong, so find what works for you, as work-life balance represents something slightly different to each person.

Everyone has different motivations, whether that’s family, travel or something else entirely, so find the balance that gives you the most enjoyment, purpose and reward. Also, don’t be afraid to try something new and out of the box. What might seem crazy in theory, might make total sense in practice.

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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.