Balancing the Grind with Vanessa Hutchinson, Founder of Fodbods

Vanessa Hutchinson is the founder of Fodbods, the only FODMAP friendly health bars in Australia.

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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 quite a diverse career – I love trying new things, learning new skills and working with different people. 

I started my career as a commercial lawyer – I only practiced for a year before moving into a finance role at Goldman Sachs. I’ve always loved startups so when the opportunity to join a VC fund arose two years later, I jumped into that.

Whilst at the VC fund, I met an awesome tech startup called Myagi who invited me to join as their Chief of Staff. I stayed at Myagi two years before launching my own company Fodbods in 2019.

We make healthy, gut-friendly snacks – our bars are the first certified FODMAP friendly ones in Australia. I’m also very privileged to act as an advisor for a few wonderful companies, which I love!

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

I have a young baby so every day is a juggle. I start my days at about 5am to get work done before the baby wakes. Most mornings I’ll also squeeze in some exercise.

I’m very lucky to have a nanny come for a few hours each day so that I can leave the house – I’ll do some deliveries then work from a cafe. Afternoons are spent looking after my baby Oscar and I often make phone calls while I push him around in the pram. I usually pack orders at night when my husband gets home from work. 

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

One of the reasons I started Fodbods was for the flexibility. I love being able to work around my schedule – early in the morning, breaks during the day, catching up on weekends. I also love that I can work from different locations and do things on my phone. 

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

Work-life balance to me means not letting your work consume you, not feeling stressed 24/7 or burnt out.

Being my own boss means I’m able to work flexibly – early mornings, late nights, weekends. To some this might not sound like work-life balance but it means that I can get work done and still spend dedicated time with my baby during the day. 

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

Having a baby definitely wreaked havoc on my routine – I’m nowhere near as productive as I used to be. Everything is a juggle – squeezing as much I can into the times when he’s sleeping / with his nanny.

Getting up at 5am has been a change but it’s nice to get things done while enjoying my (very large) coffee in peace before everyone wakes up. I don’t function well if I don’t exercise so I make sure I prioritise that – running, pilates and yoga are my go-tos. 

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

Books: The Moment of Lift by Melinda Gates, Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Everything Store about Jeff Bezos, Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and Scaling up Excellence

Podcasts: Hidden Brain, How I Built This, No Filter

Newsletters: First Round Review

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

I’m actually pretty simple in terms of what I use day-to-day. So long as I have my phone, laptop and wireless headphones I can work wherever. 

Apps – Google calendar, note taking app, Shopify, Slack, Spotify, the Monash FODMAP app

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

Jacinda Ardern is inspirational. I’m also a huge fan of Zoe Foster Blake.  

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

Obviously this isn’t possible for every role but I think the best companies focus purely on their employees’ results, as opposed to their time. Everyone has different routines and responsibilities – allowing people to work around these usually produces the best outcomes.

An important element of this is trust, but when given the freedom to pursue goals and ownership over the results, most people will work hard to achieve them – then there’s no need to worry about what hours they’re working. 

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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.