CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with William Rowe, Founder & CEO at OctopusHydrogen

William Rowe is the Founder & CEO at OctopusHydrogen, a company focused on delivering green hydrogen to the sectors which cannot be decarbonised by batteries alone, mainly aviation and heavy-duty road vehicles.

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

I’ve been really fortunate to have a varied career across energy and finance.  After a stint in the City (London financial centre) with Barclays I moved to energy supplier OVO. I helped them scale up and worked on building the Kaluza platform.

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

I travel a lot with work, typically seeing customers.  Since the COVID 19 pandemic, when I’m not travelling, I wake up at 6, exercise and then have breakfast with my kids before taking them to school for 8.15. 

I appreciate COVID changed the world a lot, but for me having breakfast with my three kids before school is a huge positive that’s come from it. Previously, I used to go to a gym near the office and eat breakfast at my desk!

Our company is remote first but we do have offices, so normally the next nine hours are back to back between talking to the team, media, investors and most importantly, customers, either in person or over the phone.

Given I’m away quite a lot, whenever I’m not, I wrap up about 5pm so I can spend time with the kids and then usually finish things off between 8-10pm.  Something we encourage at Octopus Hydrogen is to take advantage of times when you haven’t got anything urgent to do.

So if it’s nice weather and you need to review a document but it only needs to be done by 10am the next day, go surfing or go on that family bike ride, you can do the work later or the next morning. We really don’t care about ‘face time’.

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

I think anyone who goes down an entrepreneurial route in life will struggle to have clear boundaries across their time and how they define themselves. And personally I think this is OK as long as you are aware of it. 

So for me, I have to exercise every day. I love building our business and trying to fight climate change. I try to see my family as much as possible in the week but really double down on weekends and holidays.

I really enjoy doing my hobbies, whether that’s mountain biking, skiing or anything that involves wearing a helmet typically.  There’s an analogy along the lines of you can live without air for two mins, water for two days and food for two weeks. 

I try to put things into these buckets. So exercise and family are, for me, my air (high frequency).  Work is water, I think about it all the time but I don’t have to actually work all the time, and hobbies are food (important but less frequent). 

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

I don’t really do routines despite how my answers above sound!

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

I love audiobooks and podcasts. My favourite podcast is Everything About Hydrogen and the best book I’ve listened to recently is Energy by Richard Rhodes.  

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

Ryan Reynolds, he always makes me laugh and everything he touches turns to gold.  

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

It’s OK to work really hard and have great friendships at work, but it’s also OK to work hard enough to do a good job and have good friendships outside of work too.  Exceptional companies get this and value you as a whole person, find one of these companies to spend your time with.

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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.