Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Teresa Sperti, Founder & Director at Arktic Fox

Teresa Sperti is the Founder & Director at Arktic Fox, an advisory, coaching & learning organisation for customer and marketing leaders.

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

I’ve spent the last 20 years working for an array of blue chip brands including Coles, World Vision, Officeworks to name a few as well as smaller start ups across marketing, digital, data and product.

My last role corporate gig was the Chief Marketing, Product & Data Officer at World Vision leading a team of 72 and charged with driving marketing & digital transformation efforts.

I always had the itch however to run my own business and so last year I took the plunge founding Arktic Fox, a boutique advisory and learning organisation partnering with leaders to solve key challenges in digital and marketing transformation, data and marTech. Late last year I also stepped into my first Non Executive Director role with BIG4 Holiday Parks.

It has been a really big transition for me, having worked in corporate for so long, I found that I had become very used to having all of the support mechanisms around me so in the beginning it felt quite daunting. What I love about what I do now is the freedom it has afforded me, as well as variety as we worked across different clients and industries.

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

Everyday looks different and not often turns out as I planned.

Last Friday is a great example of what my day can look like. I started the day at 8.30am, to record a podcast interview on digital transformation. I then jumped on a call with a partner organisation to progress the build of a new masterclass launching in September.

By 11am, I had switched my focus once again. We are in the midst of delivering a very sizeable marketing transformation program for one of our key clients, so one of my team members and I jumped onto a virtual workshop to progress key components.

At 3pm it was time to jump in the car and pick up my son Max from school. The day finished with a 5.30pm conference call with one of our other clients before I called it a week.

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

I can and do work from home, as do my team. However, I believe it is really important to be on the ground with the brands we partner with to solve key challenges.

It’s difficult to help an organisation transform at arms-length, you need to understand their individual challenges and build rapport with the leaders of the business and so I priortise at least half of my week onsite with clients.

In a corporate role I would be in the office 5 days a week, whilst I tried to prioritise working from home I never quite mastered it.

Running my own business allows me to better integrate my life with work and this was one of the reasons I chose to step out of an executive role. That’s not to say that I am working any less, starting a business isn’t for the faint-hearted, but I don’t need to run on a traditional 9 to 5 schedule like I used to.

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

I don’t know if I prescribe to work life balance, the concept of balance means you are doomed to fail from the start when at least 40 hours of the week are spent working before you even begin to juggle commitments of being a parent, helping to run a household and other demands. Starting a new business is also a significant mental load on top of all of that.

I think it is important to prioritise time for myself to unwind and do some things that I enjoy, as well as spend some quality time with my family on an ongoing basis amongst the chaos and that seems to work for me.

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

As a mum I think we can guilt ourselves into thinking we need to do it all, I know I personally did during my sons earlier years of life. When I established Arktic Fox I decided that I couldn’t be in 5 places at the same time so I hired a babysitter to pick up my son from school a few days a week.

This has literally changed my life, I wish I did it so much earlier. When I get home, he has completed his homework, been fed and showered. This allows my partner and I to spend some quality time with him to play a board game, walk our beloved Cocker Spaniel Cookie or whatever else Max has lined up for us.

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

On the business front I’ve always enjoyed NPR’s How I Built This with Guy Raz podcast which interviews founders from some of the worlds most innovative companies, to understand as the title suggests, how they went from an idea to build very successful companies.

When it comes to personal interests, I have taken a bit of an interest lately into white collar crime or corporate crime podcasts. Some of my favourites are the drop out and missing crypto queen.

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

On a business front it would Audible. I never have time to read but Audible has changed all of that for me – I’m able to listen to a host of audio books when I am on the move – exercising or in transit.

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

As I said I don’t really prescribe to work life balance but I think there are some absolutely extraordinary single mums who are building great careers or businesses, studying and raising their little humans and I would love to read some of their stories.

These women are the true hero’s, that don’t necessarily have the supports around them – but find ways to carve out time to achieve their goals and ambitions. Hats off to them, I have no idea how they do it.

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

Don’t set yourself up to fail – whether it be work life balance, integration or whatever it is that you seek – focus on what works for you. Take comfort in the fact that just like you, most of us are still figuring it out and learning along the way.

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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.