Balancing the Grind with Ricki Harrison, Co-Founder & COO of Nutra Organics

Ricki Harrison is the Co-Founder & COO of Nutra Organics, an Australian family business, and started as a passion project in 1998 to help nourish families and make it easier to enjoy heal.

Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

It’s a bit of a mish mash! I started my career in real estate and along the way renovated units and houses with my talented husband. After 5 renovations we finally built duplexes which was a blast. I became a personal trainer and worked for a professional boxer, so boxing is a passion of mine. I stopped boxing at 20 weeks pregnant with my first child.

I always helped in the family business but officially started in 2010 with Nutra Organics. I have had just about every job in the business from accounts to marketing, but landed in operations because I love people and contrary to popular belief operations is all about people. 

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

I typically start my workday with a workout with a local women’s training group – strength and cardio. I cold plunge when I get home before I launch into mum mode, school lunches and the like. Inevitably I am looking for a left shoe, tie or soccer gear or something just before we leave! Out the door by 7.25am with a quick coffee on the way.

The work day consists of lots of meetings and deep work time stopping to eat lunch each day together as a team. I manage research & development, production & procurement and warehouse & logistics so lots of great work everyday. I sit in a communal office with 25 other people, so lots of chats and laughs – there is always something happening.

Our team is the family that I choose to spend my days with and I couldn’t be happier to do so, they are an incredible group of people. I leave work to do the school run and then head home to the farm to do the feed run which consists of feeding and watering our pigs, goats, horse and collecting the eggs.

Then I water the mega garden and harvest whatever is in season before heading in and making dinner. Then it’s homework and wind down routines – bath, books and bed, before a cup of tea with my love with my feet up and planning for the following day. 

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

For me work life balance can be a bit of an enigma. The dance of the daily is sometimes a slow beautiful waltz and other times its a quick step! I try and find the rhythm in the daily and step to it. I am in a season of life that is very full.

As COO I have many responsibilities that keep me on my toes, we have a large regenerative farm where we run a diverse mix of animals and plants and we have three beautiful children. For me work and life are linked together but in a way that is within my influence. I find those magic moments in the day, where I put myself in charge and make time for myself to breathe.

I find that having the farm and the space is so restorative, even if it is more work. Meaningful work is restorative in itself. Nutra Organics’ passion is to deeply nourish people, as is our regenerative farm so there is a synergy in my efforts that is constantly surprising and delightful. 

Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

I have worked full time for as long as I can remember but in the past 12 months I have gone back to 4 days per week in my COO role to make room for running our market garden and helping on the farm.

You might think that I have let go of one day of work for another but it’s not that at all. I spend 4 days with my team in Nutra Organics doing great work together and 1 full day on the farm, working hard in the sunshine. A wonderful balance that I enjoy and a welcome improvement to 5 days on a laptop. 

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

At the moment I am reading How to Be Well: A Handbook for Women by Karen Coates which is so lovely and practical. I practise ‘heavily meditated’ which is an app on my phone from local legend Catlin Cady. I am a voracious reader so I would also recommend these I have read recently: On a growth front: Leaders Eat Last by Simon Senek, Conscious Capitalism by Raj Sisoda and John Mackey, and I’m also re-reading 12 Rules for Life by the brilliant Jordan Peterson which is super challenging. On a farm and nutrition front: Dirt to Soil by Gabe Brown and Cows Save the Planet: And Other Improbable Ways of Restoring Soil to Heal the Earth by Judith D. Schwartz. 

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to find the unicorn of work life balance. If work is busy, lean in and give your all, then you can relax in the moments that you find because you have put in the work. Find time everyday in the hustle to stop and have a coffee in the sun, stretch or walk around the block even just for a few minutes. Some days are great, some days are less so. A good night’s sleep and a glass of red with a good friend and the two best soul restorers – the equivalent to turning it on and off again. Be encouraged, we are all in this together. 

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.