Balancing the Grind with Poppy Trewhella, Director of Programs & Partnerships at Startup Victoria

Poppy Trewhella is the Director of Programs and Partnerships at Startup Victoria, Australia’s largest startup community, with over 60,000 people.

Interested in talking about how you balance the grind? Get in touch with us here!

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

I’m the Director of Programs and Partnerships at Startup Victoria which is one of Australia’s largest networks for entrepreneurs (with over 60k people in the community). We’re the go-to destination for founders in Victoria and do everything we can to help people build and scale their startups.

In particular, I run our invite-only program for Victoria’s most successful scaleup founders and lead Startup Vic’s industry partner network (which includes Australia’s top investors, educators and service providers).  

Before Startup Vic, I lived in London and worked for PwC’s flagship social enterprise (Beyond Food) and for a boutique consulting firm (businessfourzero) whose clients include the exec teams of the UK’s biggest firms. 

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

It’s often a lot of talking! Here’s how it looked on Friday: 

  • 8.30am: Hosting a workshop for our scale-up program, Growth Club 
  • 10.30am: Catching up with the Startup Vic team in our daily standup
  • 12.30pm: Hosting a live webinar on the topic of building high performing teams 
  • 2pm: Break for lunch
  • 3pm: Quarterly check-in with one of Startup Vic’s industry partners
  • 3.30pm: Introduction call with a founder 
  • 4.30pm: Clearing my inbox before the weekend 

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

We run a lot of events at Startup Vic so there are fixed periods of time that are inflexible. Outside of that, everything can be done remotely. It’s mainly a case of planning and prioritising time. 

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

To me, work-life balance is the ability to curate a life where your time and energy is spent deliberately and purposefully. It’s a huge privilege for sure. I think achieving it is an ongoing combination of: 

1. Finding a job that feels really meaningful and is more than a financial transaction or a balance of hours: The time I spend at work feels like a good use of my energy (even on the longer days) because I am gaining as much as I am giving. 

2.  Having a great relationship with your team. Flexible work requires huge amounts of trust and honesty and so we’re big communicators at Startup Vic. 

3. Being honest with yourself: when do you need to stop procrastinating vs. when do you actually need a break. I find putting tasks off usually leaves me more overwhelmed than just getting them done, but sometimes taking 30 minutes out is the most productive thing I can do. 

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

I used to be a night owl who loved spontaneity. Sadly I’m now an early bird who enjoys a routine.

I  keep a tight close circle of people who genuinely inspire me and want to see me grow. I schedule regular catch ups with my best mate in the UK who never fails to call me out on my bullshit- she’s a life-changing presence for sure. Whatever the topic, two brains are usually better than one. 

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

Heaps! Ask me about the Startup Vic Library.

Here’s a few: 

  • Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber by Mike Isaac
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz
  • Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker
  • Lost and Founder by Rand Fishkin

And of course you should subscribe to Startup Vic’s weekly newsletter which is an aggregation of everything happening in the Startup ecosystem in Victoria. 

We’re also about to launch a podcast, watch this space. 

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

This isn’t a particularly novel answer but it’s Spotify. I listen to music basically every waking hour. I find it’s such a powerful tool for creativity, motivation, reflection etc. 

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

Hmm, probably someone who does something totally different to me and would give the opposite of generic answers. I’ll go with Kanye West.  

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

Often the human brain would prefer to stick with what is familiar than take a risk on something better. That makes it easy to get stuck in unfulfilling life traps. Be honest with yourself, take calculated risks where you can and never settle. 

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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.