CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Ron Gauci, CEO of Australian Information Industry Association

Ron Gauci is the CEO of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), the peak industry body for the digital industry in Australia.

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

I’m the CEO of AIIA, the Australian Information Industry Association. We are the peak body representing organisations within the Australian technology industry.

Prior to this, I have held roles such as the CEO of Federation Square in Melbourne, the CEO of Melbourne Polytechnic, and was brought in as the CEO of Melbourne Storm following their salary cap scandal. In my time at Melbourne Storm, we turned adversity to success with the 2011 Minor Premiership and the 2012 NRL Premiership as clear highlights for me whilst at the club.

Throughout my career I’ve worked for a range of tech focused companies. I spent more than five years with Telstra, time at IBM, Verizon and Siebel.

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

Before COVID, my days looked very different. Running a national industry association meant that I had a great deal of travel for face to face meetings with a wide range of stakeholders including members, potential members, business partners and government officials as well as Ministers and their Advisers.

During COVID that has shifted to even more meetings either virtually or “face to face” over video conference. We have moved our events series to be virtual and this means that I spend more time with our speakers helping them to prepare.

I produce and direct the event series so that we can provide access to some of the greatest minds in our industry to our members. This shift has been a real success story for the AIIA during COVID.

I also spend a considerable amount of time supporting our team and members to make sure that they are coping in these difficult times.

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

Yes, luckily working for an organisation that is the voice of the tech industry, we understand the benefits of a flexible working environment and remote working.

With great members of AIIA, such as Cisco, Microsoft, Telstra and Google, I’m able to make use of their products to work with my team from anywhere.

Additionally, I am on several boards for different organisations. Fitting in with regular meetings for these organisations means I need to be flexible with my diary. Keeping to my diary and planning my days and week is very important to allow time for work, supporting others through my voluntary work and family.

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

Balance to me is making sure important parts of my life are being attended to. This includes my role in my family, as a father, a husband, a brother, a friend, a musician and a sports coach, as well as business commitments inside and outside of the AIIA.

It’s about prioritising and for me, family always comes first and managing my time helps me to do that. One of my favourite sayings is that if I am organised enough to make best use of 25 hours a day and eight days week to get everything done. That’s what good time management gives you. I have learnt to be decisive and use my ‘dead minutes’ of my day to be productive.

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

As my children have gotten older and I have more grandchildren, I have enjoyed making them a priority. It has meant that I have selected roles with responsibilities that allow me to maintain that life balance.

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

Every morning, I scan through the major daily newspapers to keep myself abreast of current affairs and of course I’d have to recommend the digital magazine for the IT sector ‘Connector’.

My go to business books are Jim Collin’s Good to Great and Lax Sebenius’ 3D Negotiation. I read a lot of non-fiction work, especially history books and biographies. I like to understand how people have responded to moments in time and changed the world we live in today.

I listen to podcasts and audiobooks, especially when I’m on the move, I can use my ‘dead time’ to keep ‘informed’. I particularly enjoy it when the narrator is the subject matter.

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

My phone, of course, my guitars and I have been an avid collector of expensive watches over the years. Interestingly, even though these timepieces are functional works of art, since buying an Apple watch, I’ve stopped wearing them which just goes to show you the power of tech over consumer goods.

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

I was lucky enough to work with former Microsoft Managing Director, Daniel Petre. He wrote a couple of books following the loss of his sister, in particular Father Time really resonated with me. It helped to shift perceptions of how men viewed fatherhood by shining a light on what really matters – balancing work and family.

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

It’s very easy to let life race past you and for you to try to keep pace with it – it’s only when something happens that we take the time to take stock. It’s important that we put more focus on seeing the signs and take action before a crisis happens.

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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.