Balancing the Grind with Rob Phillips, Director of Platform Executive

Rob Phillips is the Director of Platform Executive Pty Ltd, a start-up membership-based portal business aimed at professionals working within the platform economy.

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

I suppose I’m a bit of an all rounder within the digital economy.

I started off working in audience development for an American magazine, before landing at the London-based R&A business Datamonitor PLC, first as Marketing Director for a business unit there and later as Digital Director.

I co-founded a network of B2B websites there called Business Review with some talented folk and also built arguably the first full white label R&A report store.

Upon sale of Datamonitor to Informa Group for $1 billion, I joined the Chairman of Datamonitor in his new venture Progressive Media Group as employee number two.

The company eventually acquired the business I had built. That company then changed its name to GlobalData plc and is now a $2 billion media conglomerate. I headed up digital there, before launching a business incubator there.

In an effort to escape the British winter, I then moved to Australia where I joined Simon Baker’s ArtsHub and Screenhub as Chief Executive. This was very much a passion-play for me, as I love the arts and consider myself a bit of a failed artist.

Turned that membership-business around, changed it’s emphasis and grew revenues, EBIT, et alia before starting my Emerging Technology Networks business, which operates as a holding business for various platform investments and interim CEO gigs.

Platform Executive Pty Ltd is a natural progression, having originally started out as a project within ETN. The Platform Executive membership portal is aimed at entrepreneurs and executives looking to build, launch, or grow businesses in the platform economy.

We’ve partnered with some great businesses along the way, like Reuters and are developing proprietary R&A data sets, industry information, tools and services that help solve the key challenges founders encounter.

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

My day starts at 5:30am, when I go for a quick run. I then go into the office and start answering emails. I used to use Outlook to plan tasks over the day. However, I now use Google Tasks. That app helps me organise myself far better now than before.

At 9am to 10am I do my scheduled local calls, almost always involving Google Hangouts and Skype. We use various teams based around the world, so I have to separate local from international calls based on time zone.

Time zones are a key challenge to all Australian SME’s operating internationally. From a time zone perspective, it is so much easier in the UK, or US.

I then do work for our clients, write a blog article, check progress against the roadmap, et cetera and any international calls. My regimen for the day ends with prepping for the following day.

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

Platform Executive has been built to be exclusively remote and flexible. The global COVID-19 pandemic will surely push other newco’s and dot-com start-ups to follow a similar model.

Indeed, we are already seeing platform businesses strategising about the future of work and seeing whether they need the expensive office space in the budgets.

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

Speaking to others, the pandemic has impacted their work-life balance in substantial ways. The majority speak of longer days and working harder. I suspect this is dependent upon role.

Due to the industry and company set-up my own work-life balance hasn’t shifted quite as much. It is far easier to maintain control if you set goals, agendas and tasks correctly, and then stick to them.

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

Travel is an obvious change over the past few months. I used to travel quite a bit, but with the lockdowns planned business trips and opportunities to network have been reduced.

I suspect it will take a couple of years to return to normal even once the local lockdowns are over.

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

I listen to a few podcasts. Everything from BearingPoint and Eric Weinstein through to Spiked and some of the more interesting Joe Rogan shows.

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

My iPhone. Sad, but true. I am fully loaded with work apps. Have to admit, I appreciate the Google enterprise suite and Skype.

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

I am interested to know the work-life balance of Jeff Bezos and Reid Hoffman not today, but when they were in Y1-3 of building their businesses.

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

Always give yourself breathing room.

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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.