HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Sarah Lilley, Director of People & Culture at Daltrey

Sarah Lilley is the Director of People & Culture at Daltrey, a biometric cyber-defense company headquartered in Sydney.

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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 Director of People & Culture at Daltrey, a biometric cyber-defense company. I’ve been with Daltrey for almost 18 months and have been a HR professional for around 20 years working across a number of different industries including legal, finance, marketing, IT and now cybersecurity.

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

I try to work from our office in Sydney at least three days a week. When I work from the office I find myself in a lot more meetings or having fireside chats so it’s not necessarily as productive as when I work from home but establishing and maintaining relationships in person is important for me as a HR professional.

I’ve always taken the view that HR should be as visible as possible, though having a remote workforce does make that more challenging. So my work days from the office and home are vastly different. I try to avoid having too many calls or meetings during my WFH days so I can focus on bigger picture tasks.

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

I don’t believe in work-life balance as such, for me it’s more about having working life and personal life in harmony with each other. I avoid working long hours – I’ve been there and done that.

Now I try to be as efficient as possible, with lots of small achievements, so when I need to take my children to sports or other activities I don’t worry about not being in front of my laptop for a couple of hours here or there. It also helps that we have a lot of flexibility at Daltrey – we can structure our day as we see fit.

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

More than anything I’ve probably stepped up exercise as I know how important it is for my mental wellbeing. I won’t start my day without some form of exercise otherwise I feel off for the day. I’ve also recently taken up pilates and yoga during lunch a couple of days a week. It’s good for the soul.

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

I largely read interesting articles to keep on top of changes in the HR space. I always like to read about what other organisations are doing, particularly innovative ones.

My favourite podcast (with bias of course) is Daltrey’s podcast, Identity Today. I also recorded my first podcast for Identity Today a few weeks ago which was a great experience.

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

I don’t have anyone specific in mind but I think any notable yoga teacher. Anyone who teaches yoga seems to have a lot of strength, both in mind and body, and a certain calmness about them. The answer to this question may be skewed a little as I’ve just finished a lunch time yoga class!

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

It’s more difficult to do this at the start of your career but I really think there needs to be a lot less emphasis on the amount of hours we work, and instead focus on the quality of the work and output.

Employers also need to stop pretending that people don’t have lives outside of work. Of course they do – and any good boss will always know that if you give people a certain amount of flexibility for that, they will be rewarded with happier employees.

So don’t miss the children’s or family activities because of work. Don’t not go to the gym or exercise because work is busy. You need to give your all to yourself, as well as work.

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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.