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Balancing the Grind with Sarah La Roche, Chief Operating Officer at TRAVLR

Sarah La Roche is the Chief Operating Officer at TRAVLR, a technology provider that provides a unique ‘Travel as a Service’ model. 

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

My career has spanned multiple continents as I moved to the UK at 21 and found myself working in global roles at a young age. I was forced to mature quickly and find my place and way to add value in situations and cultures that were not always interested in hearing from a young woman!

I think this enabled me to move quickly through my career and hone in on what I love. The central theme of my work has always been high quality but fast paced businesses with incredible people.

I have now somehow managed to land my dream role of running global operations at a technology business that merges travel and media, my two key passion areas.

TRAVLR licences its full service travel tech to the world’s leading media companies, enabling their audiences to discover, plan and book curated, once-in-a-life-time travel experiences.

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

I start early, because I am juggling being a mum and being a COO. I work in a very modular way and set time aside for both things throughout the day so that I can give whatever I am doing my total focus.

For example, I am writing this at 6am ahead of the boys waking up, I then take a break with them and get them off to daycare. During the day, I am fairly ruthless with my time. I am extremely focused and efficient to ensure I can be productive because I have to be.

This means blocks for thinking and strategic work and then time for meeting with my team, partners or companies we are working with. We try to take a family walk at the end of the day to decompress and spend some quality time together.

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

100%. As a new mum who has recently started working again in a new business, the transformation process is significant but rewarding. The impact of COVID has been tough but in many ways positive for me as I am able to work totally flexibly.

I have 1- year-old identical twin boys so this has completely transformed the way I see my ability to continue to build my career post having children. I have always worked in high pressure, fast paced environments and this is where I thrive.

These types of workplaces tend to enable and support high achievers and are more output focused vs time at desk. This really aligns with my way of working. I see TRAVLR adopting a flexible work environment ongoing as it completely aligns with our culture. 

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

My goal is to support all the areas of my life that I know give me meaning and connection to the things that are important. We are hardwired to need human connection and this is naturally something I try to prioritise – my relationships with family and friends.

Alongside this for me is physical and mental wellbeing and enrichment. If you are clear on your values and do not make decisions at odds with them, it is possible to create a balance of all these things.

It has taken me years to truly understand what I value and what makes me the most content. It isn’t always perfect, but it’s a framework I try to live to.

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

I have meditated for several years but now every day and have been building that practice up over the last year. This has transformed my mind and relationship with thoughts and emotions.

Enabling me to have distance from them both and in turn creating a more harmonious relationship with myself and those around me. I have to take care of my physical and mental health in a way that suits my new life which means short time frame activities that add maximum value.

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

There are many, I always have a book on the go. A transformative book I read as a new parent was The Conscious Parent by Dr Shefali Tsabary which takes you on a mind altering journey into understanding how foundational your role as a parent is and your ability to not reflect your own ego and desires onto your kids.

I like listening to podcasts when I walk solo – very random things like Stuff You Should Know, Lowy Institute, WTF with Marc Maron, 7am, Masters of Scale, the list goes on.

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

I’m sure I could live without any of these but they do make life simpler. Trello for life admin, Pocketcasts for podcasts, the Baby Brezza instant bottle maker was literally life saving for the first year of the boy’s life! Any twin mums out there – it’s a must.

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

Jacinda Adern.

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

I think this quote really sums it up for me. 

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.