Richard Fifita is the co-founder & CEO of Veyor, a cloud based, live logistics scheduling and planning tool for the construction industry.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m the CEO and Co-founder of a construction software company called Veyor.
I’m not however a traditional software entrepreneur, as I studied civil engineering at university and worked in construction project management for many years before pivoting into software.
This pivot was primarily in response to the frustration I faced with a lot of the manual and out-dated systems that were prevalent in the construction industry.
In my former life, I managed the design and construction of high rise buildings, with my proudest achievement being the delivery of the iconic Barangaroo International Towers when I worked with multinational construction firm, Lendlease.
Now, I design and build apps for the construction industry, which I believe has a lot of parallels with construction project management, from a process perspective anyway.
Managing multi million dollar contracts and teams of subcontractors, architects and engineers to turn conceptual drawings into operational towers, was an amazing training ground in how to turn ideas into reality and run a business, which has made my transition to entrepreneurship less daunting. As an engineer, I love to build things, whether it be towers or apps.
Our software solution focuses primarily on site logistics, providing a scheduling tool for site teams to coordinate in real time with the supply chain, and have deliveries come in and be unloaded more efficiently, which is a huge problem on busy CBD projects.
Since we rolled out our system on our first trial project 2 years ago, we’ve since been deployed with almost every tier 1 and 2 contractor in Australia and New Zealand, with new projects soon to start in the UK and US as well.
Being an early stage startup, I wear several hats, but my main priorities revolve around product strategy, business development and customer success.
Wearing multiple hats is great from a learning perspective, but also incredibly challenging from a priority and time allocation perspective. My days are long, but incredibly rewarding given the amazing team and clients I work with.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days are very varied and prior to COVID, involved a lot of travel for client meetings. Now with video conferencing being more prevalent in the construction industry, and of course border closures restricting travel, we are able to hold meetings remotely with clients and my schedule is a bit more balanced.
A recent workday, which is fairly representative of my general schedule is as below:
- 8:00-9:00 – Get in to the office in Darlinghurst, whip up a coffee, sort out priorities for the day and review emails.
- 9:00-9:15 – Stand up meeting with sales team to review feedback from previous day and priorities for the current day.
- 9:15-10:30 – Responding to client emails, sending out proposal emails from the day before.
- 10:30-12:30 – New project kick off meeting in North Sydney.
- 12:30-13:00 – A chicken schnitzel deluxe sandwich is devoured.
- 13:00-14:00 – Feature prioritisation review with Product Manager in response to client feedback.
- 14:00-15:00 – Video conference with a new client opportunity in Melbourne.
- 15:00-17:00 – Testing soon to be released features. Better I find any potential issues first!
- 17:00-18:00 – Video conference call with our UK Account Manager.
- 19:00-20:00 – Boxing training aka “letting off steam”
- 21:00-0:00 – Steak dinner and veggies, followed by getting on top of outstanding work from the day, and drafting emails to issue out for the next morning.
- 0:00 – Zzzzzz
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I am primarily in a client facing role, so remote working is not as much an option.
Our product team however have been working from home since the COVID lockdowns and we’ve been surprised at how well they’ve adapted to this new work regime, with our product quality and build velocity not being impacted.
I do believe flexible working is a key requirement for any organisation, however I also believe there needs to still be some consistent face to face interaction in the office, as its these “water cooler chats” and being around each other that really builds camaraderie and team spirit, which is crucial for any healthy organisation.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance can be perceived differently by different people. Some see it as a strict balance of hours at the office vs outside of the office, but I see it more as a balance of effort towards objectives or people that inspire me and that I’m passionate about.
Having started Veyor from an idea and turning this into a real product that clients love, I don’t treat Veyor like a job, but more so a full time hobby. I work with great people and passionately believe in our mission. I’m fortunate to be in a position where my definition of work is more in line with my definition of a hobby or passion project.
I do however acknowledge that being a balanced individual means more than just dealing with business affairs so I try to schedule regular training and actively play sports.
I play in the East Redfern Sandwiches social basketball team and box regularly, competing in amateur tournaments or charity fights from time to time. Sports helps me unwind and stay physically and mentally fit.
In addition to this I’m very close with my family and am lucky to have a great network of friends I try to arrange regular catch ups with over the weekend. Keeping a regular cadence of time for the areas I’m passionate about, that being work, family, friends, sports and exercise, helps me feel balanced and at ease.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve made more conscious efforts to research the food I eat and have cut back on sugar.
I feel far more energised and have less random chocolate cravings throughout the day which can be incredibly distracting. Together with a regular exercise routine, I feel more mentally astute and less fatigued, allowing me to be more productive.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I listen to a ton of podcasts! I also read the Sydney Morning Herald and Australian Financial Review each morning.
My favourite podcasts that I recommend are;
Pivot, a tech, business and political affairs podcast with a witty and humorous edge to it.
What I like most about it is that they really think outside the box when analysing stories and they make bold predictions that force you to reevaluate your perspectives on other similar themes. The deep insights and unexpected perspectives always fascinate me.
A16z, a business, technology and innovation podcast created by the Silicon Valley Venture Capital firm, Andreesen Horowitz.
What I really like about this podcast is that they analyse a wide range of technologies from a technical perspective, but also a business model perspective, with many podcasts also focussed on the operational aspects of running a business. As a first time entrepreneur, I’ve learned a tonne from this podcast.
The Joe Rogan Experience, a conversational podcast with a wide ranging set of fascinating guests. What I like most about this podcast is that Joe is a very balanced and fair interviewer that interviews people from all walks of life and spectrums of the political divide.
I am constantly impressed with the calibre of guests he has and the new insights and perspectives I learn, not all of which I agree with mind you. Hearing new perspectives helps me be more critical and considerate of others.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My iPhone and Sennheiser bluetooth earphones. Staying connected and being able to listen to podcasts or music at any time is crucial for work and when I’m on the move. I do however like to put these aside on weekends and just be “in the moment”.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Elon Musk – I’m amazed at his output levels and being able to consistently stay at the top of his game. More so just want to understand how he does it?
I would also like to read about Michael Jordan’s schedule when he was in his prime. Managing his business empire while winning championships and being a global mega star.
While this challenge is definitely not relatable to me, I would like to understand what strategies he’s implemented for managing the huge weight of expectation.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
There is no “one size fits all” solution, it’s really a discovery process in finding what works best for you, and constantly reevaluating this as your life priorities change over time.
My thoughts on work-life balance when I was a uni student differs significantly to my current phase of being an entrepreneur, just as my definitions of “work” and “life” have also changed.
In the future, when I have a family, I will have to reevaluate this again as my definition of “life” becomes more than just a singular term. Nothing is constant, so always be prepared to reevaluate and change.
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