CEOs / Founders / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Zaheer Jappie, Co-Founder & CEO at CarClarity

Zaheer Jappie is the co-founder & CEO at CarClarity, Australia’s first true car loan platform with an easy online application process.

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

Before founding CarClarity in 2020, I spent 14 years in the fintech space at businesses including Humm, Prospa, and Plenti. I worked primarily in senior sales leadership roles focused on third party distribution, and this is how I was introduced to the car financing space. 

I didn’t finish school and don’t have a degree, but I’ve always been driven to succeed and tried to network and progress myself and my career accordingly. At Humm I started as a casual call centre agent, and left as one of the best performing Sales Area Managers. It all starts with drive and having the spark to progress.

Through my time spent at other start-ups, I slowly learnt more about the fast-growing fintech space, and this eventually led me down the path to found CarClarity and reinvent how Aussies approach car financing.

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

 My days start with a 5:30am wake up while the house is quiet, to catch up on emails and map out the tasks I need to get through over the day. My three kids are usually up at 6:30am and I love being able to spend time with them in the morning before we get them ready to go to school. One positive thing around lockdown is now I get a hug and a kiss from my kids before school every day!

My time from 9:00am through to midday is typically split between my Ops, Product and Marketing teams to run through what needs to be done.

I always make time to cook at lunch, and recently bought a desktop pizza oven much to my wife’s delight, and I’m learning to make the dough better each time.

For the afternoon, I then put the headphones on and find a great old school playlist as I work through my daily priorities. I’ve learned to turn off all notifications on my computer, which has really helped me remain focused during this time.

At the end of each day, between 4:30pm to 5:00pm, I check our salesforce to see how we’re tracking with sales, making note of anything that needs attention. And I always make sure to congratulate high performing staff, as the business wouldn’t be running without each of them. 

From 5:00pm until 7:00pm I go into a deep reading zone to research products, people, and the latest developments with other companies both locally and overseas.

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

As we only launched just under 1.5 years ago, we have focused traditionally on office collaboration, but are also always flexible with staff if they need to work from home any specific day.

We’re also very fortunate that our business can shift to remote working where needed, and this has been crucial to ensuring we continue to keep everything moving along during the current lockdown in Sydney.

Trying to scale CarClarity means there are sometimes days where I need to devote a lot of time to work, as I need to be across a lot of detail and make decisions on the fly. Luckily, I have a great wife who really takes care of everything at home to allow me to focus, and I wouldn’t be able to run CarClarity remotely if it wasn’t for her. 

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

Balance is about feeling you have the chance to disconnect from work and really sit back and enjoy life, no matter what you are into.

For me it’s taking my kids to the park, skateboarding with my daughter, playing computer games with my son, and always making sure I have time each week to cook my family a delicious meal. I love to cook and try different recipes and styles. I see each weekend as a chance to challenge myself and make new and exciting meals. 

There’s no denying that running a startup has its demanding periods. So when it comes to balance, I make sure to set time aside for these things and to spend quality time with my family, distraction-free. This really helps me disconnect, recharge, enjoy life and continue to be energised with my work.

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

I’ve made a few changes that have really helped! Turning off notifications on my computer and work apps was a big one for helping me not only focus on my work more and resist the urge to reply to everything straight away, but also to switch off when needed and ensure the balance between work and personal time is maintained. This has been super helpful during lockdown too, when the lines can definitely get blurred. 

Ensuring I eat a more balanced, healthy diet, getting a healthy amount of sleep each night, and prioritising time spent with my children outdoors to minimise screen time where possible has also been very beneficial.

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

I love Reid Hoffman’s Master of Scale podcasts, and more generally, I consume a lot of YouTube content on business, product, marketing, and strategy. I find YouTube is underrated as a knowledge platform; you can literally learn about anything and everything on there.

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

YouTube is something I definitely couldn’t live without and always offers new things to discover and learn as I look to continually grow my own knowledge and worldview as I apply it to my work. 

Other gadgets and apps I couldn’t live without include my Airpods Pros, Spotify, SalesForce, Fellow.App, and Slack. 

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

Definitely Elon Musk. He’s such an enigmatic leader, and hearing about his day-to-day approach to work running Tesla would be equally fascinating and insightful. 

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

I think work life balance really depends on the individual and at what stage they are in their life and what drives them every day.

For me, I’m passionate about building CarClarity, and as a startup founder, I appreciate that I will need to dedicate a lot of time to growing the brand. With this in mind, I expect things will need to tilt more towards work for the short to medium term, which I’m okay with because it will be worth the time investment.

Long term will be a totally different story. I expect to be able to balance the scales more in the medium to long term as the brand and the team grows. The ultimate dream for me is to have my board meetings by the beach side one day! 

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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.