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Balancing the Grind with Shannon Karaka, Head of Expansion AUNZ at Deel

Shannon Karaka is the Head of Expansion AUNZ at Deel, a payroll platform for remote teams that connects localised compliance and payments in one system of record and automates everything.

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

Today I run the Australian and New Zealand operations at Deel. We make global hiring and compliance easier for companies and the people they want to hire.

Amazing talent is everywhere in the world but opportunity is not. The world has only just scratched the surface when it comes to unlocking a global talent pool. My job is to make it much easier, less expensive and less risky for businesses to hire people from anywhere.

We just recently launched in ANZ, so I’ve been busy planting our feet in the ground and growing our local customer base. 

The past two pandemic years have dramatically shifted our relationship with how and where we work. COVID, the war on talent, and the desire for remote work have all ​​accelerated the trend of a distributed workforce. And it is exciting to talk to businesses about supporting local economies and empowering the global workforce.

My past experience includes roles at Google and Salesforce, where I worked with the business development and social enterprise teams, respectively. I’ve also founded Get Happy Co, a clothing brand that supports mental health, as a side project. I’ve been a huge advocate for mental health so working on Get Happy was a great opportunity to make a difference in the world. 

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

I’m fortunate enough to live in Bondi, so if the swell is good I’ll train in the morning, followed by a much needed coffee to get my day going.

Depending on the day, I might have calls with my US colleagues in the morning which I generally like to take from home. We are a remote first company, but there are definitely times when being surrounded by my team is the highlight of my week, so I look forward to catching up with them occasionally face-to-face at WeWork. 

One of the things I love most about my job is the flexibility. There’s no pressure to come into the office from 9-5. As long as you get the task done and at a high quality, that’s all that really matters. 

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

Absolutely! That is what we do and it’s our DNA. You can’t be a global company empowering businesses to hire remote workers and not practise what you preach.

Choice is key, we can choose a hybrid model, where you can meet in person a couple of days per week, but we can also work remotely when we want. In addition, we have the flexibility to work internationally if needed. This is fantastic timing, with the reopening of international borders a number of us will be visiting friends and relatives for the first time since the pandemic hit. 

To have the flexibility to work from anywhere is a huge incentive for employees. Companies are hiring at an incredible rate right now, and Deel is committed to helping companies streamline this process for remote workers. 

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

As an advocate for mental health, work-life balance is always on my mind. For me, that means getting in some form of exercise each day (usually before work). If I don’t get that time in the morning, I really notice a difference in my mood and productivity.

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

One thing that has significantly made a difference in my life is no screen time an hour before I go to bed. It sounds small but I improve my sleep immediately. This in turn has improved my energy and focus levels during the day. It’s been a win, win. 

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

I was given Combo Prospecting by Tony Hughes many years ago. It’s full of practical tips and tricks that helped me grow as a sales professional early in my career. Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss and Tahl Raz is also great!

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

I’m pretty simple when it comes to technology and gadgets. I’ve invested in my home office though – a sit-to-stand desk and ergonomic chair make remote work easy!

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

Elon Musk has been a huge idol of mine. Although not sure how balanced his lifestyle is – the man is a powerhouse. I’m reading his autobiography at the moment.

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

Work-life balance is different to everyone, but I think the key is for businesses to allow employees the flexibility to choose how to make work work for them. I like to train in the morning and in between meetings I go for walks to keep active.

Looking after the body and mind is super important! When I’m hard at work I focus on what I can control – attitude and activity. With a positive attitude and lots of activity – you can achieve anything!

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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.