Raffaela Bethke is a Product Manager at Hyper Anna, an Australian startup that taps into business intelligence and delivers real-time insights from natural language requests.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I was born and raised in Berlin, Germany and moved to Australia about 10 years ago. The plan was to visit Australia for a gap year to ride out the economic uncertainty due to the GFC. I had initially planned to pursue a career in commercial real estate in Berlin, but the GFC threw that out of the window!
The gap year motivated me to start studying, so I finished my degree in Sydney and then began to work in the digital space. It’s now 10 years later and I’m still here!
Over the past seven years, I’ve worked across a number of start-ups, e-commerce and digital media products and projects. Currently, I am a Product Manager at Hyper Anna – an AI-powered data analytics tool that enables everyone to make data-driven decisions, instantly – working closely with designers and devs to ensure that we are focusing on the right things. Prior to Hyper Anna, I was working for Channel 7 building their 7plus streaming app.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
There is a famous quote from Mike Tyson that I find describes most of my days as a Product Manager so well:
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.
I’m a morning person, which means I usually get to the office before 8 am (pre-Corona lockdown). This helps me get stuff done before it gets busy and all the distractions of being in an office kick in (my home office distractions? my dog?). I normally start by going through and getting an overview of my day ahead and then come up with a plan and a to-do list.
From then on it becomes a mixture of sticking to the plan and the to-do list and adjusting according to what needs my attention, i.e. the getting punched in the face part.
As dramatic as that sounds, this part is actually one of my favourite parts of being a Product Manager as it keeps me on my toes, forces me to make quick decisions, collaborate with my team and think fast.
Once one of the hectic periods is over, having the to-do list to come back is useful – it helps me refocus.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I am replying to these questions in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown so I guess the answer is yes. Hyper Anna allowed everyone to work full-time from home a week before it was properly enforced by the government.
We were already using all the tools that enable a company to make the most of a distributed team (i.e. Slack, Zoom, Miro, Figma etc.) as we have a small team in Singapore, so in terms of tools or ways-of-working, adapting to remote-working full-time hasn’t been a big deal for us.
That being said, working from home full-time is a big change for me. At Channel 7, I used to work from home 1-2 days per week and be in the office for the rest of the week – this personally, was my sweet spot. I thrive off being around like-minded people and the dynamic in an office, but I also enjoy the quiet when I need to focus and get stuff done – which can be hard in an open-plan office.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To me, work-life balance means being mentally present at the right time, for example, to think about work at work and to limit thinking about work when you aren’t at work. Sure, it’s hard because we are always connected, and now with COVID-19 and the majority of the world working home, establishing physical and mental boundaries for yourself helps a lot.
Another thing that helps me is exercise – it takes my mind off things and I feel so much more energised when I exercise regularly. I also make an effort to get 7+ hours of sleep every night, go for long walks with my dog and read a lot which relaxes me.
5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?
My number one habit would be having a plan and a to-do list. It helps me break things down, focus and I love that feeling of achievement when I get to tick an item off the list.
Growing up in Germany, I played competitive field hockey and one of my favourite coaches used to say:
A setback is only a new starting point for a comeback.
This mantra of not giving up has stuck with me and has really helped me to get through tough times – determination and grit can go a long way in achieving your goals.
Playing a high-level of field hockey for the majority of my life has taught me how to be a good team player and that you can achieve more when you work together. I enjoy working with people and love hearing everyone’s input.
I am fortunate that I work with very smart people and learn new things every day. I try and encourage everyone in my team and around me to speak up and share their ideas as you never know where the best solution for a problem may come from.
6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
I read a lot but it’s mainly fiction, crime and fantasy as it helps me escape reality and relax. I am, however, an avid podcast listener; some of the best podcasts I am listening to and that have taught me the most are:
- How I Built This with Guy Raz
- Work Life with Adam Grant
- The Happiness Lab
- TED talks daily
- TED Radio Hour
- Tech Stuff
7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
A to-do list helps me focus my day and my thoughts on what is important and then helps me refocus after a hectic period and/or getting sidetracked (aka. punched in the face).
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Do whatever sparks your interest and makes you happy. It will energise you more than anything else (and exercise and sleep).
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