CEOs / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Yesh Munnangi, CEO of Rome2rio

Yesh Munnangi is the CEO of Rome2rio, a Melbourne-based company helping people get from A to B around the globe safely.

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

My current role is CEO of Rome2rio, a position I’ve had since 2020. I have more than 16 years of business and product experience, working in both Australia and Europe. I also have a US tech background, having cut my teeth at Amazon with a focus on scaling new businesses, a passion I now bring to Rome2rio. 

Before my role at Rome2rio, I was Director of Business Operations & Strategy at Omio – Rome2rio’s parent company – where I was responsible for helping it scale into Europe’s leading transport booking platform. There, I also wore multiple hats across analytics, product, and commercial areas while also helping acquire companies in the space including Rome2rio. 

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

A day in my life always starts with family time. A walk around the neighbourhood, sometimes with my wife, helps kick off the day. I enjoy helping my daughter get ready for school and make it a point to drop her off every day. She’s always got lots of stories to share about school, friends and everything that makes her curious. Getting inspired by her spirit of learning and ability to look at everything with a sense of awe greatly boosts my energy in the morning. 

From here, I usually head into the office. It’s a short commute, and I can clearly separate my personal and work space in that way. It’s also a great way to connect with my colleagues at the office, regardless of how many are there that day.

Most of my day is filled with meetings with the team or external partners. I keep track of the different teams’ work and help unblock any issues that are slowing our progress. During my lunch break, I try to meet others around the Richmond/Cremorne area. We also have some days when the team comes together for lunches, events or celebrations. Towards the end of the day, I typically connect with my counterparts in Berlin and London, as Omio, our sister business is based in those cities. 

I end my day with some more family time – catching up on the day and finding a good book or movie to move my head away from work. 

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

Work-life balance for me is how much headspace you have for tasks that need your mental energy – solving problems vs how much you connect with people around you personally.

I don’t think it’s something you can define by the number of hours you spend before a desk/computer, but more about how fulfilled you feel about that human connection by the end of the day. I try to achieve that by making sure I spend enough time with the people that matter to me – it’s family, but it’s also friends and colleagues. 

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

The last 12 months have made me realise just how important it is to have personal time, especially when you’re in a role where you need to tend to many daily challenges. As people leaders, we’re also spending a lot of time tending to the emotional needs of others, making it even more important to take some time out and care for yourself. To help with all this, I started a routine of walks and exercise, both of which helped me connect with myself. 

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

I try to read books that are not directly related to my work to open myself up to new ideas or perspectives. I also like reading philosophy as it helps me step back from the day-to-day. 

For work, I follow a few podcasts, publications and newsletters – like 20VC and Harvard Business Review – that provide useful insights into other leaders in this space and the problems they’ve solved. 

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

I don’t have a specific person in mind, but I’d love to read more from other early-stage tech leaders and founders.  

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

Achieving work-life balance is not easy and it’s even harder if you try to obsessively measure the number of minutes or hours you’re spending on each activity, be it work or a personal experience. It’s important to focus on the quality of your attention and engagement with what you’re doing. If you can’t stop thinking about work when you’re with family, the amount of time you spend with them will matter much less.  

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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.