Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Philippe Aerdeman, Co-Founder & COO at Avert AI

Philippe Aerdeman is the Co-Founder & COO at Avert AI, which is empowering employees to write compliant and regulatory safe communications with AI.

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

I have an extensive background in corporate finance. For the last fifteen years, I helped Fortune 500’s companies find pockets of profitability in their business and fund their major investments. This experience enriched me as I relocated from Europe to the United States and to Melbourne, Australia.

After COVID-19, I decided to launch my start-up with my two co-founders and we’ve received pre-seed investment from Antler.

Our startup is called Avert AI. It empowers employees to send compliant communications using AI. We proofread employees’ digital communications and flag any privacy risks in real time and propose a compliant rephrasing.

My various roles in Finance taught me how to pitch and sell a story to decision-makers. It requires a lot of preparation work, collecting inputs from multiple stakeholders, putting them together into a compelling story, highlighting major risks and opportunities and presenting them in a concise way. My proudest achievement was to be a key member of a $1B M&A deal in the manufacturing space, one of the largest in Australian recent history.

I have transposed this experience into my new startup life, building Avert AI. Our future looks promising, and please reach out if you want to be part of it.

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

I start my day by checking emails and Slack messages and replying to urgent ones. I go through the news and then the morning routine starts: I wake up my two little girls, get ready for school and drop them off at 9 am.

Every day, I ride my bike to the office while listening to audiobooks or podcasts.

My day at the office starts with a daily standup meeting with my co-founders to discuss any roadblocks and agree on priorities.

I try to schedule important meetings in the morning when I feel more productive. I am always excited to tackle new challenges. We spend a fair amount of time brainstorming and exploring ideas as this is part of building something new, but we quickly reach decisions and move on. Lunchtime is a great opportunity to meet and mingle with other start-ups that share the same coworking space. I take a quick walk to get some fresh air and then I am back at it.

At the end of the day, I enjoy family time between 6 and 8 pm and then I log back in to work on important topics.

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

Work-life balance means spending quality time with my wife and children while having the career I love.

What we are trying to do requires agility and speed of execution and I don’t like being the bottleneck. I always jump on a topic when my input is required and am quick to react.

I have all the important productivity apps on my phone (email, Canva, Trello, Asana, WhatsApp, Slack) which enables me to give quick responses. Outside of “regular hours”, I prioritise my family over work, but you can always expect a quick answer from me.

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

I have started to do intermittent fasting. It really works for me. I feel better mentally and physically. Other than that, I have started listening to audiobooks which is a great way to make the most of the time spent commuting.

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

Currently, I am reading Surrounded by Idiots by Thomas Erikson. Great way to understand how you behave, how you are perceived and how other people function. The next one on my list is The AI-First Company by Ash Fontana. For anyone trying to get unbiased feedback, I would recommend The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick.

Otherwise, as a Manchester United fan, it is always good to relax with The United Stand YouTube channel. 

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

Easy to think about Elon Musk. How can he lead two successful companies (maybe 3 in the future), and have all the personal drama that we can see in the newspapers?

Otherwise, I’d like to hear from athletes: how is their day organised between training and relaxing time, how do they combine travelling the World and having a family etc. Look at Roger Federer, he has been successful in both his personal and professional life.

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

Just one thing: when you are stuck on something, it is always a good idea to change scenery to see things differently and trigger out-of-the-box moments. Go work from the coffee shop, log in at an unusual time etc. It has always worked for me.

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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.