Balancing the Grind with Tim Rossanis, Managing Director at Turo Australia

Tim Rossanis is the Managing Director at Turo Australia, the world’s largest car sharing marketplace where you can book any car you want, wherever you want it.

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

I’m the Managing Director of Turo Australia, the world’s largest peer-to-peer car sharing marketplace. I was hired last August to lead the company’s international expansion into Australia , our first market in APAC. It’s been a busy few months since we launched at the end of November, but I’m loving it so far!

I’ve worked in the mobility space for a number of years, most recently as Head of Growth for Uber’s grocery & retail business. I spent almost four years at Uber and was fortunate enough to gain exposure to many parts of the business across Rides, Eats & Uber for Business, as well as all the relevant cross functional teams. I was fascinated by the dynamics of both 2 & 3 sided marketplace businesses, trying to simultaneously create value for multiple stakeholders who don’t always have the same interests. 

Early on in my career I got the opportunity to move to New York, working at both Flight Centre and American Express. I lived there with my wife for 5 years and really enjoyed being immersed in the melting pot that is NYC. I was also inspired by the work hard, play hard culture of New York, and somehow managed to complete my MBA while working full time and having our first child. 

The inclination to fill my life with (sometimes too many) commitments has been a theme ever since I can remember. I ran a volunteer non-profit for a few years while attempting (often unsuccessfully) to focus on my undergrad studies and a variety of entry level sales roles. Those times certainly gave me a good sense of both how to prioritise, and how to accomplish more with less. 

In my last 2-3 years at Uber I also started angel investing and have been lucky enough to meet a lot of amazing operators & investors in the Australian ecosystem. It’s yet another thing to balance alongside work & my family (now 3 children under 6), but it continues to be a source of energy & inspiration now, even as the initial novelty has worn off. 

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

I’m usually woken up between 6-6:30am by my kids. From there, I begin checking emails & Slack messages to see what has come through from other offices overnight. Once I’m out of bed, I’ll grab a coffee first thing and my wife & I maniacally get ourselves & the kids ready for the day, aiming to be out of the house at 7:20am and in the office around 8:30 am. 

Once I’ve re-caffeinated (usually before 9am), I’ll typically start the day on Zoom with SF before jumping into local meetings and one-on-ones with my team here. I try to keep my afternoons relatively free so I can focus on getting work done and being available to help solve problems that might have come out throughout the day. 

Now that the new school year has started, I aim to leave the office before 4:30 to pick-up my youngest from family daycare at 5pm & I’m then in the lion’s den for a few hours, keeping the kids entertained, fed and bathed with as little chaos as possible. More often than not, I’ll then spend a few hours catching up on work in the evenings or prepping for the following day.

I also have a call at least evening a week with the other partners in my investment syndicate, where we discuss startups, tech and which investments we’re going to make, so that tends to occupy a chunk of my week as well.

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

I think it’s a moving target and has been different for me at every stage of my career. Call me contrarian, but I think there’s even an over-emphasis on “balance” at times. It’s different for everyone, but if you’re driven and have lofty, purpose driven goals, I personally think it’s okay to be a bit addicted to your work. What’s problematic is when those efforts come at the expense of your value system. 

There’s certainly been times in my career, even as recently as late last year when leading up to the launch of Turo here in Australia, where I’ve had to give up time with my wife and kids, or limit doing things that made me feel healthy. Unsurprisingly, those are also the things that give me the most fuel, joy and passion for my work, so compromising those values can only last so long before it starts to have unintended consequences. 

In truth though, the pursuit of that goal is a constant battle. For me, it starts with intellectual honesty and conversations with my wife. We’re very good at motivating each other and holding each other accountable, which may sound strange to some people, but it works well for us. 

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

I’ve become much better at scheduling work blocks in my calendar to dedicate time to specific deliverables. I also set myself a goal this year to spend at least 30 minutes of quality, no-phone time with my kids every day, where I’m not distracted by any pings or vibrations. I wear an Apple Watch so it’s a bit of a cheat, but so far it’s going really well. 

I’ve also set a similar goal about exercising every day this year. I saw a post on LinkedIn (I can’t actually remember who it was!) about someone who had committed to the same goal years ago, and I remember their professional trajectory during the same period being a clear sign that it had a positive impact!

I’ve found it much harder to prioritise exercise since having our 3rd child, but I absolutely love an ambitious goal so this has been helpful. Especially one that everyone knows about, there’s nothing better for accountability than the pressure of not letting other people down! 

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

I love Audible and I just finished listening to Paper Belt on Fire by Michael Gibson. The book was written by a successful VC who dropped out of university, ran Peter Thiel’s 20 under 20 fellowship and now helps mentor the next generation of investors who have followed an alternative path with their careers and education.

I’m also really enjoying the podcast, How Other Dads Dad with Hamish Blake. Hamish interviews dads about their approach to parenting and shares insights and wisdom from these conversations.

Of course it’s very entertaining because Hamish is a very funny bloke, but it’s also inspiring to hear from many successful figures in Australian entertainment and public life, who have managed to successfully navigate the challenges of trying to do it all while being good parents. 

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

Now that she’s stepped away from the responsibilities of public office, I’d love to hear more about Jacinda Ardern’s approach to fitting everything in. She ran a country while raising a family, through terrorist attacks, natural disasters and a pandemic, and has been admirably transparent about her reasons for not seeking another term. I imagine she’d have a fascinating perspective on the topic.

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

Spend time thinking about what’s important to you and then balance your allocation of time & energy accordingly. Find people who aren’t afraid to call you out when you’re “off balance”. Don’t be afraid to make bold changes to your lifestyle if it brings you closer to aligning your actions with your values. It’s pretty easy to fall into bad habits by accident, and very hard to make the changes necessary to break them. So, be intellectually honest with yourself and take control of your future.

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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.