Balancing the Grind with Rachel Zerr, People & Talent at Slyp

Rachel Zerr is responsible for People & Talent at Slyp, an Australian fintech that instantly delivers an interactive smart receipt inside a customer’s banking app.

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

I’ve always worked in the people space- and have gravitated to helping high growth companies scale. I found my feet in agency recruitment, and then worked for some well-known companies like Accenture, Google, and the Publicis Groupe in hiring & growth focused roles. 

The past few years have been the most exciting as Australia’s start-up scene has thrived, and I’ve been able to be part of the first 100 of some really brave companies.

I’m now here at Slyp in my perfect job – it’s a broad role shaping our People & Culture function and helping us mature from start to scale up. I’ve been here for 18 months and already seen so much growth in raw numbers, but also in maturity, programs and infrastructure. It’s truly invigorating. 

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

Part of start-up life is that you need to flex up AND down. That means I could be working with our Founders and leadership team on something highly strategic or arranging interviews! It’s a lot of context switching but that’s part of the thrill.

If I look at what I did yesterday, which was pretty typical – it included two interviews with prospective Slypsters, a handful of 1:1’s which is always valuable to get a pulse check on how the team is feeling & delivering, an internal meeting putting together our B-corp submission, and the rest filled with prepping for Performance Season (yes it’s a thing) and payroll. 

I’m strict about scheduling all that in between 9-5 and book-ending my days with nature and/or exercise. I might log-on at night, but if I do I make sure I always ‘send later’ (and encourage the team to do the same!) so it doesn’t create a culture of needing to respond at all hours. 

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

Yes! We introduced two awesome benefits last year which I often take advantage of myself. Open Place which allows any Slypster to work from anywhere for a few months at a time and Open Leave means we don’t cap paid annual leave to 4 weeks – we allow any Slypster to use what they feel they need. 

I admit I was a little nervous rolling out Open Leave last year – but so far the team has been respectful and our productivity has remained high. For myself I’ve worked from Tasmania, will take an extended (non-working!) break to Canada this year too, and likely the odd day here and there as I feel I need it. 

Having said all this – we do recognise the importance of collaboration and all being together at times. It means that while we’re hybrid with most of us in a few days a week, we do ask our team to be present for some of our regular all-staff rituals. 

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

I often say that life should take over sometimes – so try to role model this as much as I can. It means that some weeks I’ll dig deep and go over and above and others I’m easier on myself to donate more time to my home life. I try to listen to my internal compass as much as I can – no good decisions come out of running at a problem too hard or too long. 

So you also have to get comfortable saying no, even if it’s to yourself. 

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

I love anything from First Round Review, both the blog and the In Depth podcast really nail the trends of working in early stage & growth businesses. I also rate the Redefining HR podcast, and Lars the host has a great weekly newsletter. I look forward to the weekly Recruiting Brainfood newsletter by Hung Lee and I always find a nugget or two in HBR. 

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

I was closely watching the lead up to the recent Australian election and was in awe of the relentlessness of the campaign trail. I’d love to hear how the candidates kept their stamina. I felt the same with our leaders during those first few months of COVID and lockdowns – a lot of people had to make high-stakes decisions with a clear mind in a stressful environment. It was fascinating to watch and I’d love to hear how they maintained that over months of uncertainty. 

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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.