Balancing the Grind with Tyson Rose, Associate Director – Innovation, Solutions & Ventures at KPMG Australia

Tyson Rose is the Associate Director of Innovation, Solutions & Ventures at KPMG Australia, a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services.

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

I’ve had a spectacularly broad career to date. Starting in Marketing roles in the surf industry in California, followed by working on my own startups and finally consulting in advertising, design and management consulting firms in London and back home in Sydney. 

I joined KPMG’s Innovation, Solutions and Ventures division the day my daughter, Bowie was born, 15 months ago after being made redundant in my previous role.

As a KPMG Business Innovator, I work side-by-side with some of the biggest experts in tax, law, finance and other specialty fields to identify opportunities and collaborate on early-stage innovation and growth opportunities. 

A month ago, I began my primary carer’s leave at KPMG to take the baton from my wife who was going back to work and to look after Bowie. 

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

Before primary carer’s leave:

The Business Innovator role at KPMG is a relatively new one so there is an exciting blend of big picture, functional planning tasks (like how to approach the challenges and opportunities of the function) as well as developing specific initiatives with subject matter experts.

The latter usually begins with unearthing some provocative insight which gets everyone thinking about the possibilities. Then we work closely with clients in the space to validate and flesh out the dimensions of the issue before developing early articulations of a number of solutions and getting feedback from the business and clients.

From there, we document the aim and progress made, seek funding and bring in a bespoke team who’ll take the development further.  

During primary carer’s leave: 

A good friend of mine cautioned me to make sure I didn’t lose adult contact while I was on leave with Bowie.

So I created Rad Dads; an SMS thread with some of my best mates who also spend time caring for their kids. It’s been a great way to not only mix up the routine with Bowie but also for me to form stronger bonds with my mates and Bowie to form some with their kids. 

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

KPMG was always a highly, physically distributed organisation. My boss is based in Hobart and I worked on projects in WA. So there was always the technology and a culture of virtual working.

However, it wasn’t until COVID-19 until the tipping point shifted from the office-based folk being the minority, that it truly didn’t matter where you chose to do your work. In the Seven months between when COVID-19 began and when I went on primary carer’s leave, I went into the office once. And that was totally normal and accepted.  

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

I live in the upper, Northern Beaches of Sydney, which is a 3-hour round trip to the CBD. To put it into perspective, the time spent to commute to the city from Monday to Friday is the equivalent of working Saturday and Sunday too.

So work-life balance, in particular, flexible and remote working is incredibly important to me. I have actually created and trialled a number of alternative commute options from a non-stop chartered bus to a mobile office which allows people to start and end their work day on their commute ( a work in progress which KPMG supports).

I have also found that the person you are for the first month of a new job sets the baseline for the behaviours that others expect of you from that day forward.

So I’ve always approached any new job and ensured I’ve both communicated my intentions for work life balance really clearly, and backed it up with results, but not falling into temptation to impress my new boss by being the last one in the office or sending emails at midnight.

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

Before primary carer’s leave:

Even before COVID-19, I had started working from home at least 2 days a week. It was important to me that I do something useful with what would have been my commute time (3 hours a day / 15 hours a week / 32 days a year).

I made a habit of substituting my commute with physical exercise like surfing and other things which ‘filled my bucket’ so to speak. I would do the early morning wake up and bottle with my daughter and then head down to the beach for an hour or so until I had to be back home and at my desk before 9.

It was great that sometimes my wife and daughter would also join me and have their breakfast down at the beach. 

During primary carer’s leave: 

The period of lockdown actually interrupted the healthy routine our family were creating above and I didn’t surf for 3 months or so. Just before going on primary carers’ leave, I was struggling with the ‘groundhog-day’ nature of working from home and was rarely taking time for myself to rejuvenate.

I began seeing a professional who helped me work through some of the stress that was accumulating. The biggest influence she had on me was to encourage me to get back to finding time, between my wife and I where we could both fill our own buckets and create an emotional buffer for when times were tough.

Off the back of this recommendation, my wife and I deliberately found more opportunities to divide and conquer and ensure we each had time for ourselves. Which (not surprisingly), made the time we spent together as a family better and more fulfilling too. 

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

Not so much. But I can’t recommend highly enough having a communication thread (my Rad Dads thread) with a close group of friends who are in similar stages of life to bounce things off, ask advice and facilitate get togethers. It’s helped me mix it up with Bowie and actually build better bonds with friends and their kids. 

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

A good bag with plenty of useful compartments. 

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

I’d love to hear from CEOs of companies about their own experiences because I believe that a company’s flexible working culture is behaviourally led by those who run the business. 

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

In my personal experience, you shouldn’t (and often don’t) have to choose between being a great employee and a great parent, husband, etc. I have heard that many men don’t take KPMG (and other companies) up on their primary carers’ leave entitlement which blows my mind.

I can only imagine that there is some stigma still surrounding having a ‘career break’ and some feel like it would hurt them professionally. As a case study of 1, I have found this to not be the case at all. I was applying for a new role within KPMG only a few weeks before I was set to start my 4 month break.

Thanks to COVID-19 and the job market, there were 600+ candidates and I had resigned to the fact that they would probably choose someone else. But full credit to my bosses and the department, they chose me and I spent my last couple of weeks onboarding a colleague to cover the position while I am away and I am pumped to go back and get stuck into it in 2021 when I return to work. 

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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.