Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Seong-Lee Ang, Co-Founder of Buddee

Seong-Lee Ang is the Co-Founder of Buddee, an Australian-owned and operated company which offers tasty spreads that are entirely free from the top 10 allergens.

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

I began my working life in the advertising industry, in the areas of marketing, events and PR. After a few years, I realised it wasn’t for me, and thus began my business journey. I spent the next 10 or so years opening and operating a number of cafés.

I eventually sold the cafes and started a business (with my current business partner Rodney) that manufactures and wholesales chai to the coffee industry. That business is called Chara Foods and is still operational. 

After discovering that both my children suffer from severe food allergies, I was personally motivated to start a new business called Buddee. Rodney and I created Buddee as a nut-free (and allergen-friendly) alternative to Nutella and peanut butter so that all children can enjoy eating spreads at school safely without putting others at risk. 

Woolworths and Coles quickly recognised what Buddee offers to consumers and the gap that it fills, and both have decided to stock Buddee nationally from August and September 2022 respectively. We’ve had to ramp up production quickly and it is keeping us extremely busy, managing all the various aspects of this new and exciting business.

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

My workdays always begin with two things: coffee and my children. A good coffee always puts me in a happy mood, and on most weekday mornings I enjoy dropping my children to school.

After drop-off, I head to the office where Rodney and I discuss what we hope to achieve that day, and then it’s full steam ahead. No two days are ever the same at Buddee HQ, especially with our business being at an early growth stage, there’s always something urgent or unannounced that needs addressing. But that’s the joy of running a business you love and with a business partner that has the same work ethic and drive.

My workday often finishes at around 2.30pm when I leave the office to pick the kids up from school. The rest of the day is spent with them and my wife, either at after-school activities, or at home.

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

Work life balance means everything to me, it always has. My goal has always been to create and run a business that provides flexibility and allows me to do the things that matter, and to spend time with the people that matter, i.e. my family.

In the earlier years of business, I tried to achieve this by learning from others and asking lots of questions. Listening to the wisdom of others is so vital. In the more recent years of business, I’ve been able to apply what I’ve learnt, use my time more wisely, make less mistakes (although mistakes still happen but are great for growth), delegate and create strong systems and good teams. 

When my children were very young, I predominantly worked from home so that I could spend time with them throughout the workday. Now that they attend school, my work usually fits between the hours of 9am – 2.30pm.

There’s no doubt that since Buddee started, I’ve been busier than usual. But it doesn’t change the priority of work-life balance. Travel has always been my passion, and I try hard to make it happen. I’ve had two short family holidays in the last 6 months – holidays and rest are important for both my and my family’s well being.

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

To be honest, I’ve never been one to exercise regularly. However, in the last year I’ve tried to be more active, picking up Pilates and squash. I’ve since given up squash as I hurt my back, so I’m now on the lookout for something new that’s less aggravating. I’m no fitness fanatic, but I think it’s important to at least try to be healthier. 

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

I love The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. It puts everything into perspective and gives so much more meaning to the things I do in life. I highly recommend it.

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

Joe Brumm, the creator and writer of Bluey. My children are the biggest fans (not to mention my wife and I), and it would be fascinating to have a glimpse into the mind and work life of someone like him. I’m inspired that he created Bluey through his own life experiences as a dad. I guess it’s similar in a way to what motivated me to create Buddee.

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

Do things that matter, whether that be in or out of work. Give others your time generously, because you never know how the simplest of things like time can help change the lives of others. Share knowledge – because it’s meant to be shared.

I believe that balance is everything. Working is an essential part of life (for most people), but without balancing other important aspects of life (such as family, hobbies, friends, travel, rest, etc) with work, life begins to eventually get out of sync, which is a recipe for disaster. Too much work isn’t good for anybody.

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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.