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Balancing the Grind with Rania Awad, CEO & Founder of Digital Smoothie

Rania Awad is the founder & CEO of Digital Smoothie, a business consultancy specialising in eCommerce, digital and IT strategy.

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

I studied pharmacy at The University of Sydney. By 21, I was the owner of Maroubra medical centre pharmacy and within a couple of years I launched one of the very first online pharmacies in Australia, Your Chemist Shop, at the very infancy of eCommerce back in 2004. 

This took me on my exciting journey into the wonderful world of eCommerce and Technology. Since those early days, I have worn many hats and have played in many industries – from Director of Ecommerce at Pharmacy4Less to Managing Director of Azoya, a Chinese cross border ecommerce provider, to CEO of Smart Asset – an asset management software company and Head of Strategy at Damstra Technology. 

Now I’m back to doing what I love most, which is building meaningful companies and being an entrepreneur as the CEO and founder of Digital Smoothie. Digital Smoothie brings together some of the best and most diverse talent in the digital and business world to deliver meaningful digital transformation projects.

We love working with organisations large and small who are looking to make a positive impact within their local communities, workforce, clients, and the planet. We enable those organisations so they can do their best work by providing exceptional talent and experience – who can take an idea from concept to execution or anywhere in between!

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

I don’t need to set an alarm – I have my 3 year old daughter Florence for that – she’s very punctual and yells out “Mamma it’s time to wake up” at precisely 6am every morning. She puts in her breakfast order which is usually oats or pancakes – with lots of blueberries – while my wife makes us coffee. 

The hour that follows is probably my absolute favourite hour of the entire day – coffee, breakfast, chats and sometimes a quick visit to the chicken coop to see if they have laid fresh eggs for us. 

Daycare drop offs at about 8:30 then I’m off to Happy Spaces – the beautiful co-working space that I work out of – overlooking Torquay front beach (Victoria). Meetings, networking and client check-ins is how I mostly spend my day.

I squeeze in a beach walk in the middle of my day most days. Workday ends around 5pm – head home for dinner and bedtime routine. Usually followed by a TV show or a good book for about an hour or so and mostly in bed by 9:30pm.

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

Yes – I have always been about working smarter not harder. All the roles that I have been in have been crafted to allow for maximum flexibility so I can enjoy my family moments without compromising on my work outputs.

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

I’m not a fan of this sentence – work-life balance – it implies that work and life are 2 separate entities that compete and need to be managed accordingly.

My preference is life balance (my work is part of my life). Which to me means being present for my wife and daughter and not missing out on the joyful micro moments that accumulate into lifelong memories. 

Being able to drop my daughter off at daycare and pick her up, being present for her bedtime routine and reading her favourite books all while I’m excelling at work because my Work outputs are measured by the quality of work NOT by the number of hours I clock or where I work from.

Sure some days may need to be long at work to meet a deadline or deliver a project – but other days could be shorter – and this freedom is what creates the balance for a happier and richer life.

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

Started: Nightly meditation and daily walks. 

Stopped: Mindless Social media scrolling on the couch in the evenings.

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

Big fan of Brene Brown – I’m currently listening to her Dare to Lead podcasts. I’m also diving deep into the world of crypto and NFTs and have been listening to The Non-Fungible Podcast and GaryVee. I’m also reading CoinTelegraph – it’s a fascinating space. 

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

My Calm app – I use to meditate, Audible for all the audiobooks that I listen to when I’m walking or driving AND my bongo drums, for fun & stress relief

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

I’m curious to know what a typical day in the life of Elon Musk looks like.

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

Life is not a balancing act. Sometime some of the best experiences are had when the balance is tipped, and you feel on the verge of falling into the abyss, right there, at the very edge is where new opportunities and a tonne of learnings reside – so if you feel that life isn’t quite balanced right now, don’t be afraid to explore what lies ahead.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.