CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Sek-Mun Wong, CEO of Hey You

Sek-Mun Wong is the CEO of Hey You, Australia’s number-one order ahead platform used by more than a million Aussies.

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

I inherited a hand-me-down computer in 1981 and have been coding ever since. Back then, there was no internet, no fancy graphics or sound, and as a kid – I had no money.

Necessity being the mother of invention, I started by writing my own computer games, and that went on to shape my career – working in telecommunications and banking and then eventually I founded a couple of startups, building digital products for myself and others.

I’m currently the CEO of Hey You, Australia’s first food & coffee order ahead platform.

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

Being cut from startup cloth and deeply technical, I do have a diverse work day. 

Just today, I worked with our Engineers to figure out monitoring/observability of our code, with our Data Scientists around data engineering pipelines and with Product to work through feature prioritisation and user personas.

Other days, I might work with Marketing on messaging, pore over support tickets, help Partnerships on deals or look at numbers with the Accountant.

I do like leading from the trenches, but ultimately, the goal is to bring people together on a shared mission.

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

I’ve had such a long stint in startups, which is really a 24×7 job that I don’t quite know how to answer that without it sounding unhealthy!

For me, I love what I do and that “work-life” line is somewhat blurred. 

I intuitively think of “work” as a “labour of love” or a “work of art” rather than “just a job”, but something I’m acutely aware of is that it’s different for the next person.

Having said that, I do school drop-offs and pickups and with remote work I get to spend a lot of time with family. Kids and relationships are a lot of work, but they are not “jobs”, so it still follows that “love is work” and vice-versa.

I’m also the President of the P&C at my son’s school, so I get to be quite involved in his school life, although my wife thinks I’m crazy to take more on!

I try to keep activity and friends local – it’s amazing how much time we spend getting from A to B.

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

Definitely stopped commuting to work, this saves a lot of time. I put the kids to bed then have a nap, get up around 1-2am and get some quiet time or work in.

COVID has been terrible, but I’ve recently (re)started doing 20 minutes of interval training every morning.

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

I’m reading a lot less these days, maybe fiction-wise. I re-read the Hitchhikers series by Doug Adams every couple of years.

The Death of Expertise by Tom Nichols, Don Norman’s Psychology of Everyday Things, The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker.

I’m (still) learning Korean at the moment, so the TTMIK podcast. 

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

I went through that phase where I read a lot of bios and self-help books and I realised I am just me and it’s really hard to emulate someone else’s habits. Still, you could always learn something through observation, so maybe Bill Gates.

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

Write everything down – lists, to-dos, ideas – use technology to keep yourself organised. 

Keep a journal – it’s cathartic. 

There is (literally) nothing you can’t learn.

Everything has its season, good or bad. This too shall pass.

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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.