Véronique Diallo is the Head of Legal at Rexlabs, a global real estate SaaS company with headquarters in Brisbane, Australia and offices in the UK.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I have spent a big portion of my career working in the media and entertainment world in Paris, London and Sydney and I moved into the tech world in 2020 during the Covid years. There are a lot of crossovers between those industries.
I have recently joined Rexlabs as their first Head of Legal and their first employee in Sydney, Australia. Rexlabs is a global real estate SaaS solution with headquarters in Brisbane, Australia and offices in the UK. I’ll be setting up the legal function and will be helping them out on the scaling process.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I wake up around 6am/6:30am. I don’t use an alarm; I like to wake up naturally with the light and the city noises. It might sound strange, but I find the traffic and noisy bin collection calming, it’s a sign of life which means, it’s time to wake up!
I have this terrible habit of picking up my phone and I even start answering emails from my bed. I would not recommend it, but I can’t shake it!
I either exercise with a dog walk, a jog or an ocean swim or alternatively I head straight for the fridge for a healthy breakfast.
Once I’ve eaten, I start working by preparing my to-do list, checking my calendar for the day, and looking through email and Slack messages to see what needs my attention. I tackle my to-do list by order of priority and will always start by working on some of the most urgent matters and most important for the business, from a strategy perspective.
I have multiple breaks throughout the day to refresh my attention and I will equally go back to the fridge for some more food or have a proper time out when I feel that I’m not progressing on a task, and go for a jog, a walk with a friend or attend to some chores around my house.
When I take a break, I make sure it is away from the screen. I have noticed that my eyes are becoming incredibly tired from the blue lights, and I now wear screen glasses to protect my eyes.
I have a clear stop around 7pm/7:30pm to attend to my family, cook or chat with them about the day. We eat dinner around 7:30/8pm, European style! If I feel particularly tired, I might even watch an episode of a series before dinner to unwind.
I’m currently loving the reboot of High Break High on Netflix. I’m learning about adolescence in Australia. When my workload is huge, I go back to work after dinner but I’m super conscious about not doing that too often when unnecessary, to avoid burnout.
3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance means finding that sweet spot between work duties and play. Work is part of life and to stay motivated, it’s important to me, to let go of any build-up of stress, relax in other ways, be away from a screen and use other parts of my brain and my body.
I balance work with all sorts of activities from reading, to socialising, to artistic pursuits and exercises. I am very social and love to connect with people so I need to meet in the flesh. Online exchanges via Zoom, phone calls, SMS or social media, are not enough for me.
4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In the past 12 months, I have stopped working for the first time ever in my career (besides pregnancies)! I took a 4 month break to pursue some personal endeavours.
During that time, I set up some art exhibitions in Sydney and in Melbourne, I did some volunteering work for Médecins sans Frontières, I travelled to Mexico and to Europe for over 2 months and I also looked after my health by undergoing a massive surgery that had been on the back burner for too long.
It changed my life as it allowed me to reflect on the pandemic years, to reconnect with my family overseas and to set my mind free and wander in all sorts of directions.
I fully recharged during that time and highly recommend it!
5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I use books to escape work and love reading fiction which takes me to a different world. With a group of friends, I have set up a book club and we meet every 6 to 8 weeks to discuss a book. We read a huge variety of books picked randomly depending on topics that capture our attention.
I am currently reading a French novel set in Burundi and called Small Country (Petit Pays) by Gael Faye, a Franco-Rwandan writer, songwriter and rapper. This book is extremely important in African literature and depicts the end of the main character’s childhood, while he lives through the Rwandan genocide and the Burundi civil war. It’s not a joyful read, it’s particularly realistic but I enjoy real stories with zero filters.
6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I would love to read about Christine Lagarde’s (President of the European Central Bank) work life balance tips. Her schedule seems really packed with all sorts of responsibilities and obligations and she seems incredibly well adjusted, at peace with herself.
7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think having alone time is key to ponder on the course of life, on what direction comes next, cultivate interests outside work and develop skills, volunteering for a cause or nurture some hobbies.
The key to achieving balance is to stay curious about the world and to keep evolving at work and outside work. The world is in constant motion and those who can continually bounce back will, in my opinion, be able to find that sweet spot and stay happy in the process, while avoiding the dreaded burnout.
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