Soujanya Datta is a Senior Producer – Global Financial Niches at Australia’s largest comparison site, Finder, where she is launching investment niches in Australia, Europe, LATAM, and Southeast Asia.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I was born in Calcutta, the city of joy, and spent most of my childhood there. I wanted to become a professional dancer but life had other plans. But my first ever paid gig was as a dancer.
I moved to Sydney for my Master’s in 2015. I absolutely fell in love with the city and call it my second home now.
I’m a Senior Digital Producer at Finder where I define, strategize and improve the digital experience for our users across global financial verticals. My current role is an amalgamation of project management and product management with a focus on CRO.
I get to take problem statements, brainstorm ideas with the wider crew, and finally ship solutions with the product, growth and tech team. I love what I get to do every day.
I started my career as a quant researcher but was always keen on shipping E2E projects and not just being stuck with research findings. After joining Finder, I can definitely say that I’ve finally found my comfort niche. I also am a part-time guest lecturer at my alma mater, Macquarie University.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I do start my day with a minimum of 20 minutes long meditation. I find that my mind tends to settle and become calmer and more peaceful after the first few minutes. I certainly find meditation very helpful and recommend that you try it too if you haven’t already. It helps me to manage stakeholders better.
Every day is different and I love that part of my job. Typically, my days start with stand-ups to sync with my team. A few days in the week are quite meeting heavy. I usually have weekly/fortnightly catch-ups with different stakeholders to make sure we are on track to deliver planned projects for this OKR season.
As I mostly work on investment verticals, I usually have a few tabs open to monitor market news religiously throughout the day.
For example today, I facilitated 2 user interviews for an early stage product discovery work with a senior PM from my team. Plus, I wrote up a confluence documentation page, debugged a few easy-fix issues and worked on designing an experiment on Optimizely. I also had 3 quick one-on-one meetings including one with my manager.
I do take my lunch breaks around 12:15 pm and usually utilise this time to either watch something on Netflix or read a book. I’m currently making an active effort to not check my Slack or Jira notifications during this time.
I work with a team that is in different time zones. So, I need to attend a few odd hours meetings to catch up with them. Otherwise, I try to shut my screen by 6:30 pm.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely, yes! Finder’s crew is currently spread in 21 countries and 9 different time zones. Being a part of the global team, I was already working with a distributed crew before the pandemic.
Luckily, Finder has always been very flexible in terms of remote work arrangements as an employer. So, WFH wasn’t a shock for me. But it took me some time to find my groove in terms of having a set routine in place.
Now that I’ve been working from home for close to 2 years now, I’m not sure if I want to give this routine up and work from the office full-time when we are allowed to.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’m probably not the best person to talk about work-life balance. I have been trying to get better at it, to be honest. I even got feedback from one of my colleagues during my annual performance reviews that I shouldn’t respond to Slack messages at 3 am.
If I’m up late and I happen to notice something needs to be fixed, I usually struggle to switch off my work brain and ignore the issue till morning. My current employer puts a lot of focus on work-life balance and mental wellbeing, I just still haven’t found my equilibrium yet.
Although, I’m currently making a conscious effort to snooze my work notifications after a certain time and I’m going to say it helped me a lot.
Before lockdown, I made sure to utilise my annual leaves and travel at least thrice a year. That really helped me to shut down my work mode. Hopefully, we can go back to our pre-covid travel times real soon.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I used to eat out a lot before COVID. I’ve started cooking more frequently now. I also started to practice Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form at home on a regular basis. It’s therapeutic for me. I’ve been dancing for 20+ years now and I feel dancing made me better at my job.
For example, as dancers, we continuously need to adapt to new songs, new genres of music and new partners. When I was dancing professionally, I was adapting to each partner’s level and style and constantly adapting to the group’s needs.
Just the same, the needs of the users evolve, business goals evolve, the market evolves and everything happens very fast. You need to know how to constantly keep an eye on these changes and analyse them to make the right decisions and build a relevant solution.
Change can feel uncomfortable at times and it is important that you acknowledge that and find ways to navigate through it, all while helping your teammates do the same.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’m currently reading Continuous Discovery Habits: Discover Products that Create Customer Value and Business Value by Teresa Torres and would absolutely recommend reading it If you want to discover products that customers love that also deliver business results.
A few of my favourites are here:
- The Lean Product Playbook By Dan Olsen
- The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
- The Design of Everyday Things: Revised and Expanded Edition by Don Norman
- Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal
- When Coffee and Kale Compete by Alan Klement
- Inspired: How to Create Tech Products Customers Love by Marty Cagan
- Well-Designed: How to Use Empathy to Create Products People Love by Jon Kolko
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Headspace, Blinkist, Jira, Evernote, 8Counts, IG and my plants and brownies.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would love to know how Shemara Wikramanayake does it all. I’m so keen to know her journey as an immigrant in Australia, what it took to enter a highly male-dominated industry of investment management.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Trust the process. If the process is a bit shaky at times, dance first and think later.
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