Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Sançar Sahin, Co-Founder at Oliva

Sançar Sahin is the co-founder at Oliva, a mental healthcare platform for employers who want to make a real impact on both their teammates’ lives and their organisation’s performance.

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

I’ve spent most of my professional career leading marketing teams for early-stage startups (Hotjar, Typeform, GetApp, Trovit). I started out with more of an interest in the creative side of marketing.

However, I soon learnt that it’s almost impossible to build a successful marketing machine if you only focus on one aspect of it. I grew to love the science that supports the art of marketing. Process, data, research, systems. All of this enables art to flourish in marketing.  

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

Being at such an early stage of our journey at Oliva, each day can be quite different. On any given day I can go from planning marketing initiatives to talking with Lawyers about corporate structure. There’s something about boring stuff being less boring when you know it’s building the foundations of a mission-led company.

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

Oliva is mainly based out of London and Barcelona but we also have team members in other European cities such as Lisbon. So we take a very flexible approach to working location. The Barcelona team will bounce between their homes, cafes and our city-centre office and our London team mostly work from home or a coworking space.

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

‘Work-life balance’ is the wrong way to look at things, in my opinion. Is work really the opposite of life? Considering the fact that most of our time on this earth is in fact spent at work, that feels very sad.

I read somewhere (can’t remember where) something to the effect of “We should build a life from which we don’t need a holiday.” I subscribe to this notion. I still want to have holidays, but not to escape work—simply because I like holidays and it’s a fun and relaxing thing to do.

I’m not saying I’ve perfected this. I haven’t—far from it. But I’m getting there by setting boundaries, both at work and in my personal life, and by focussing on the things that give me the sense of meaning vs what I think other people feel I should be focussing on.

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

I used to live in Barcelona full-time and got into a really good routine of doing morning boxing classes on the beach. It was a great way to start the morning. Since moving to London, I’ve not made the effort to get started again. I keep meaning to but this weather isn’t inspiring me at the moment!

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

I read The Power of Now recently and found a lot of thought-provoking things in there. I recently lost a very close family member and as a result there’s a slight spiritual side of me I’ve started to explore.

I’m biased but I really love the stories shared on Oliva’s Mental Health at Work podcast. It proves that it doesn’t matter how outwardly successful you are, everyone has a mental health story.

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

I’m not sure it counts as a gadget but most of my work is done on my laptop so my life would be different without it, let’s put it that way. My favourite accessory is my Earpods. I love listening to music, audiobooks, etc., so never leave home without them.

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

Any president or prime minister. I can’t imagine they have much balance but I’d love to understand how anyone manages to do a job like that and still function.

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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.