Balancing the Grind with Richard O’Sullivan, Vice President & General Manager, Australia & New Zealand & Vice President, Agency Partnership, APAC at InMobi

Richard O’Sullivan is the Vice President & General Manager for Australia & New Zealand and Vice President, Agency Partnership, APAC at InMobi.

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

My media career started in 2001 with IPC Media (now TI Media) before a move to the UK’s national press. I worked at both the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday in a variety of roles including business development, sales, creative solution and strategy. 

After nearly a decade in the London media scene (huge fun in my 20s) my digital advertising journey began when I sold the 1st ad on before relocating to Dubai, UAE to build the digital advertising division of; a start-up of sorts.

Then I spent three years at Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC). This was the commercial arm of the Abu Dhabi Government, a sovereign funded and cash-rich operation that was hungry for unprecedented growth and led to acquisition of the English Premier League broadcast/ digital rights etc. It was quite the ride.

Three years later (and still in the Middle East) I began what would become my ‘boomerang’ career at InMobi with a focus on mobile advertising. I spent four and a half years leading the EMEA, Asia and North American teams, moving to Singapore and New York, and gaining a lifetime of experience in both emerging and mature markets.

I then moved to Australia to do some consulting before being lured back by my amazing InMobi family with the offer to head-up the Australian business in 2019. Three years later and that role has evolved into a double-hatted one which also sees me lead our Agency Partnerships across APAC which is a relatively new role. 

And within all of this I married my fabulous wife, had two kids, finished my MBA and, most recently, embarked upon studying Privacy Law at University of Melbourne.

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

A typical workday for me would be up at 5am for the gym, early coffee nearby and, if I have no early calls, back to have breakfast with the family. 

Then there’s the everyday family craziness as we get the kids ready for school, lunches, dressed and fielding a billion questions along the lines of “where’s the shoes”, “where are the glue sticks” and so forth. Finally, my wife and I head in different directions to take the kids to their respective school. 

By now it’s approaching 9am. Historically, I’d then go to the office but post COVID we are still largely WFH. Irrespective of location, it’s then a mix of meetings with my team based across Sydney, Melbourne and Bangalore offices, customer calls and working with our cross functional teams on collaborative efforts in marketing, finance and legal.

I try to finish up around 6.30pm and then it’s whatever the kids want to play before the bedtime routine. Then depending on my mood, it’s either study, TV or playing soccer before I fall into bed and do it all over again the next day. Luckily the weekends are much slower paced and it helps that I love what I do. 

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

100%. InMobi has always had an employee first approach but with the advent of COVID we’ve effectively now been WFH for two years.

Before this, I was in the office five days a week in either the Melbourne or Sydney offices (I’m Melbourne based, so somewhere between a one-hour and three-hour commute) so it’s been great to slash time spent on a train or plane and spend more time with family.

Our team has also been enjoying the shift. We’ve recently had a couple of members of our team working from Milan and New York and we’re actively trying to bend to allow that balance for all as we figure out our model going forward. 

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

I love the Steve Jobs quote which goes:

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do.”

This is because I’m driven by purpose. I like to make a difference and I enjoy what I do so while I try to push the limits, I don’t feel compelled to do something or feel boxed into a situation. Our work represents a third of our day and it’s important for people to find the inflection point between what they’re good at and what they enjoy and explore it, make some mistakes and explore again. 

My days are busy but there are 168 hours in a week and even after I list all the things I want to do and my family wants to do I find there’s always time left over which always finds a way to be filled. 

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

As you might have gathered, I enjoy a fast-paced life and so the mandated lockdowns and transformed schedules that COVID brought took some adjustment – not least as I’m in Melbourne which had one of the world’s longest and strictest lockdowns. 

In the thick of lockdown, I did find it pretty hard to motivate myself to get up for my 5.30am run, and then missing the early morning energy burst negatively impacted my day. These were blips though and I soon got back on track. 

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

I seem to be bucking the recent trend as I don’t listen to podcasts as a rule. But I do read an awful lot of industry news and views via a number of media trade press newsletters, including Mi3, Mumbrella, AdNews, B&T and Mediaweek. I’m also an avid reader of the Harvard Business Review, AdExchanger and various blogs and white papers from McKinsey and the other big consultancies. 

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

I’d find a way to adapt, but I have a long list of must haves including:

Products: iMac, MacBook, iPad, iPhone Pro, Bose Plantronics earphones, Fitbit, Polar Heart Strap and my blender!

Apps: Polar Beat, Fitbit, Headspace, Pomodoro, Asana, Pocket, Dropbox, LinkedIn, Teams, Evernote, Google Maps/ Photos, What’s Mine, Hubspot, WhatsApp, Spotify, FaceTime and the smattering of ecommerce, finance, news apps.

I’m a nightmare when I go on holiday!

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

Although I’m a big believer in ‘do what works for you’, I don’t particularly relate to interviews with executives that outline their early morning rituals of meditation and ice baths and chants and green powder smoothies and so forth and how that contributes to their day. 

For me, I get inspiration from ‘people like me’ – that is a working parent with a working spouse in our industry and understand how they strike a balance as that’s far more realistic. That’s why columns like this are great, as you don’t know what you don’t know. I’m always keen to borrow an idea or get inspiration from my peers.

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

I think that the single truth we need to accept is that none of us will ever complete our workload and that should never be the goal. Once we accept that work is endless, we can shift our mindset to shaping (not completing) our workloads for maximum professional and personal impact.

This requires understanding of productivity, accountability and time management. These frameworks help me to work smarter and sort where the priorities should lie – and most importantly remind me to switch off!

I’d also note that whilst I’ve found a balance that works for me, it’s important people find their own balance based on their likes and dislikes. Most importantly it’s important to learn to give yourself a break. Sometimes it’s choosing to do nothing rather than something. 

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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.