Balancing the Grind with Sean Girvin, Managing Director ANZ at Rackspace Technology

Sean Girvin is the Managing Director ANZ at Rackspace Technology, an American managed cloud computing company based in Windcrest, Texas.

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

I owe much of my career to a sliding doors moment. When I was young, I mustered up the courage to stop by the house of a girl on Halloween. I picked up the largest pumpkin I could find and a 6 pack of coronas and knocked on her door.

That night, I not only found out that she had a boyfriend, but that he was the CIO for EDS Canada. Over the beers, he spoke of the industry with such passion, conviction and focus, that a week later, I was signing a contract. Fast forward 25 years, I’ve worked in more than 40 countries and lived in five.

I will always be Canadian but after 10 years, I now call Sydney home. Prior to joining Rackspace Technology, I was Vice President, Head of Sales for HPE South Pacific.

I’ve also held multiple leadership positions at HPE, HP and Electronic Data Systems (EDS) around the globe. If I hadn’t knocked on that door, I’m not sure I would be speaking with you today. 

In my current role as Managing Director of ANZ, I’m focused on positioning Rackspace Technology as the partner of choice for cloud services while also building a workplace that continues to attract and develop the best local talent in the industry.

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

As a fully integrated global company, my days at Rackspace Technology involve a lot of liaison with the global team which results in many late, and very early, calls.

I work across every aspect of the business with a great focus on our customers, offering support and helping them to find the right cloud to suit their environments, especially during the challenges of COVID.

BC (before COVID), I enjoyed going into the office, engaging and chatting to the different teams to see what individuals were working on, what they were proud of and what was keeping them up at night.

I believe there is no monopoly on good thought because everyone brings value. We now have a Friday all-team catch up where everybody comes together to chat about our weeks.

I always look forward to this time – it’s as much a mental health check in as it is an excuse to catch up, celebrate our wins, throw banter around and a bit of laughter.

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

We’ve been working from home since the 16th March, so it has been a while now, but in general I get a lot of my energy from the team and customers. I enjoy the atmosphere and energy of our office. There is a great diversity of people and opinions to feed off.

Long days mean I take a lot of calls from various time zones, so the role has built-in flexibility. There is no expectation that I’ll be in the office for a 1am call, and like most people, sometimes there is a need to recharge which is when I enjoy spending time with my family and two mutts.

Work is only one element of people’s lives and I’m a strong advocate for flexible working because it encourages a more diverse and inclusive workforce – it’s all about finding the right person for the job, not the right location or ‘9-5’ availability.

Many Rackers request unique working arrangements including changes to their working hours, part-time working and job-sharing, particularly for parents. Before we all became remote workers, we had a number of Rackers already working from home to better suit their location and lifestyles.

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

I’m not sure I’ve truly ever achieved balance for a sustained period of time, but I do have moments. Personally, I’ve always associated balance with my energy levels and having the headspace to live in and enjoy the moment.

I subscribe to the ‘start less and finish more’ approach to working and try to take the time, no matter how brief, to step back and celebrate successes.

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

Before COVID shut down all international business travel, I used to spend a lot of my time in the air. I really enjoy the escapism of long-haul flights and have had some of my best sleeps on the LAX and Dubai legs of travel back to Sydney.

But while I miss travelling to other countries and experiencing different cultures, I also appreciate how much time I’ve been able to spend at home this year with my family. Amongst all of the negatives, COVID has certainly slowed down certain aspects of my life which I’m grateful for.

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

I must admit, I haven’t been reading as much as I would like. I recently read The Good Life by Hugh Mackay.

A close friend of mine also had his first novel published recently: a teen book called Claudia and the Post Box. Besides being an author, he just so happens to be a plastic surgeon, a talented artist, an all-round fabulous human being – and a very good friend!

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

I love Netflix, Spotify and pretty much anything that’s wireless, but I love the outdoors even more. Give me a clear night, a good sleeping bag, a warm fire, no tech and I’ll just breathe and take it all in.

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

I would like to read about how Satya Nadella, the Chief Executive of Microsoft, manages his time and strives to achieve work-life balance.

I love how he has taken the brief and made it his own, while bringing the entire company on the journey. Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Ballmer, these are not easy acts to follow.

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

I was raised by my grandparents. My grandfather, a career military man, would always say to me “remember the 4 R’s: rich, romance, respect and renewal”.

To him, rich didn’t mean money, it meant full. Romance is to stop and smell the roses occasionally. Respect is the greatest gift you can give and it’s free. Renewal means change is constant, so keep pace or you will be left behind.

I don’t believe there is a silver bullet but I like to think the 4R’s is as good a place as any to start.

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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.