CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Stuart Dalrymple, CEO at Kāhu

Stuart Dalrymple is the CEO at Kāhu, a a MedTech startup developing technology to help doctors discover and diagnose skin cancer, both easily and effectively.

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

Ever since I played Super Mario Bros as a kid, I’ve always been a bit of a technology geek. After doing a Computer Science degree, I worked with software companies for over 15 years in various roles.

Wanting to have a bigger impact, I moved into Product Management and completed an MBA. From there, I was really interested in Health and MedTech and the benefits technology could bring to patients and the health system.

I’m currently CEO of Kāhu – a MedTech startup looking to put instant skin cancer detection in the hands of every doctor, using A.I.

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

People involved in startups understand there are often more roles or ‘hats’ to wear than there are people to do them!

There is no such thing as ‘not-my-job’. So I often end up splitting my time 50/50 in terms of (a) collaborating with colleagues and engaging stakeholders and investors, and (b) doing deep work such as customer interviews, market research, business strategy and requirements gathering. A recent workday involved:

  • Meeting with Finance on upcoming FY23 budget
  • Working with leadership on timelines for various product launches
  • Doing 3x customer interviews to get feedback on product workflows
  • Pitching to another founder to improve my skills and delivery
  • Revising content in our Business Plan for Board of Directors

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

Ever since the first lockdown, people have shown us they can work remotely and flexibly. There is a time and a place for face-to-face collaboration, however work will never be the same again.

I think most employees know that and most managers by now would agree. At Kāhu we see it as a non-negotiable. It’s a way to open the top of the recruitment funnel, hire more people from more places, which in turn can increase diverse thinking.

In terms of my own routine, I like being involved with my children, so half the time I will be doing either school drop-offs at 8.45am, or school pick-ups at 3.30pm. I will block those times out in my calendar, and either start early and/or work after dinner.

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

I define work-life balance as balancing out your time and energy as-an-average, but not every day. I don’t think it’s realistic to have every day be balanced. We can’t realistically split our time into neat little segments every day between work, family, personal life, sleep, etc.

Sometimes things will come up and you need to work a 12-hour day. Some days you won’t get much sleep. To balance that, I will need to take an afternoon off or a mental health day here and there to recharge (or nap!). So I encourage the team to do that and try to normalise that. 

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

One thing I recommend doing is removing work email / instant messaging from your phone. Since the pandemic and working-from-home revolution, there is a danger that the lines between work and life are blurred / don’t exist anymore.  

Notifications don’t have to be responded to immediately. You do not have to be online 24/7. There is very rarely anything that can’t wait until you get back to your desk. I believe this is one tactic that will make both you and your family & friends happier. And when you are at your desk and working, you’ll be more productive.

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

Seeking Wisdom (by Drift) is a super engaging podcast with CEO David Cancel. Go back to the archives for the first 100 episodes. There were things Drift were doing 4-5 years ago that were ahead of the curve and are very relevant today. It’s a great window into Silicon Valley and U.S. thinking, which I believe being in Australia we’re somewhat shielded from / could learn a lot from.

I’ve mentored people in the past to help them get amazing new jobs. To help even more people, I put this advice into a podcast mini-series called Career Unlimited. It’s 8 episodes filled with useful stories and tips to help people hit their career goals. It has over 1,500 downloads and people seem to enjoy it. So people could check that out if they’re interested.

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

I wouldn’t say “couldn’t live without”, however Audible is a great way to read more books; whether you’re commuting, driving or exercising.

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

Janine Allis or Melanie Perkins; I think they represent both the old-school and new-age group of successful Aussie business leaders and would have lots of insights.

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

​I’m a fan of Dan Pink’s book Drive which is about human motivation. The more purpose, autonomy and mastery you can have in your work, the more motivated you’ll be (and less it will feel like work).

Do a self-audit and see if those things are present in your life, and if not, make some decisions on what you’re going to change. Then it will be less about work/life balance, and more about simply living life.

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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.