CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Rob Jorden, CEO of Rare Foods Australia

Rob Jorden is the CEO of Rare Foods Australia, the world’s leading greenlip abalone producer.

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

I began my working life selling financial services in London in the 80s, when I learnt a lot about people and human behaviour. 

I returned to Australia in the late 80s and first worked in primary production in an environmentally, sustainable way.

I then joined a professional services firm and applied my people skills to facilitate business improvement from a strategy, structure, and process perspective. 

Through my network the opportunity with Rare Foods Australia (ASX:RFA) presented itself. 

RFA produces abalone in the ocean off Augusta in Western Australia in a globally unique way that’s been awarded the highly coveted and internationally recognised Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) accreditation for our sustainable practices.

This role combines my desire to be involved in producing environmentally friendly, sustainable, and scalable products, as well as use my people management and business improvement skills.

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

I work out / swim or do some form of exercise from 5am to 6am.

Meetings generally start around 7:30 am. We have routine meetings focused on improvements and growth, and the afternoons are generally responding by phone / email to various requests.

I try to call it quits most days by 5pm and go for a walk once my wife returns from her workplace.

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

Yes, we closed our expensive corporate office and our Commercial Services team, and I work from home. I live and work in wonderful Fremantle in Western Australia. 

I meet team members for breakfast or coffee most weeks to have a person-to-person conversation as we’re mapping out our improvements or growth. 

Most Thursdays and Fridays I head to our main asset in Augusta, Western Australia, and work with the Operations team. 

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

Knowing how to switch off from the complexities of delivering strategy. It can consume me. I’ve learnt through bitter experience that the art is aligning the apex of the business and management into a well understood process to deliver the desired outcome. Once that’s achieved, the rest is reasonably straightforward.

Exercise and sport are very important to me, as is diet. I very rarely drink alcohol between Sunday and Friday these days. I also play golf most Saturdays. Irrespective of the week you’ve had, this is a great leveller. 

My wife and I are very planned out with our holidays and family events – at least 12 months in advance. This always allows us to have something to look forward to, especially beneficial through some of those more challenging days.

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

Once we moved to Fremantle from Brisbane, I got into a bad habit of eating takeaway food on a Thursday on the 4am trips to Augusta. I’ve since worked a far better way of aligning a more appropriate diet – just took a little planning. 

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

No, not really. I pursue a wide variety of topics, especially the financial and sporting press. I watch the themes on my LinkedIn.

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

My phone has become an integral part of my life.

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

Probably Prince William – he’s had intrusions in his life since the day he was born – how does he handle them.

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

Never stop trying to improve. Always be selfish with your personal time.

What are the strategies and rituals that bring clarity to your day? What keeps you focused, and most importantly fills your day with joy?

The daily “To Do” List keeps me focused. Hearing of a friend or a team member achieving success.

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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.