Sarah Kimmorley is the Director of Communications at Antler, a global startup generator and early-stage VC firm with a focus on building technology companies.
Subscribe to Balance the Grind’s newsletter so you never miss one of our conversations about work, life & balance.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Over the last couple of years, I have been leading teams in the communications and digital media space for a number global brands in Australia.
Currently, I’m the Director of Communications for Antler, a startup generator and early-stage VC fund, across Australia and New Zealand.
Essentially, I oversee and manage the digital marketing and PR strategy, and internal and external stakeholder relationships, as well as support the local portfolio companies on media relations and branding matters.
Prior to Antler, I was the General Manager at Business Insider Australia & Gizmodo Media Group. In this role, I led editorial and commercial strategy, audience growth and product development across four teams.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My days vary significantly depending on what stage of the Antler program we are at.
Most recently I have been working on our Demo Day event which was held at Sydney Town Hall. This event was the culminating event of the six-month generator program.
Our local portfolio companies pitched on stage to 1,000 people, and another 1.1K via the live stream, in order to raise external seed investment. It was a great success, and off the back of the event we’re managing the in-bound requests from investors, advisors, founders and media interested in the program and the startups it has generated.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes, most certainly. Although, I prefer being in the office surrounded by the startups. Their vibe and energy is infectious.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
Lists. I love lists. Trello is particularly good for this, especially as we’re part of a highly-connected global team.
We’re also very dependant on Slack and Google Drive. For geographically dispersed teams, these tools make communicating and sharing content easy and effective.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’ll be the first to admit that in the past I have struggled to achieve work-life balance, particularly when I was in online journalism. I felt a lot of internal pressure to never miss a news story.
Although over the last few years, I have been focusing on resetting that mentality. Now, I really try to use the weekends to recharge whether that’s by getting outdoors or spending time with family and friends.
Of course, there are still busy periods when there’s more comfort in just “getting it done,” but I definitely notice the benefits of taking the time to disconnect.
6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
Prioritisation and communication is key for me. I always try to be super transparent with my team by letting them know what projects and tasks are my priority that week or day. By being clear about deadlines and workload, I find it’s easier to manage other people’s expectations and relieves internal pressure to help you focus.
Notification settings on my phone also plays a huge part in how I try to find balance. There’s always the constant temptation to answer a quick email or respond to a message on Slack if you get a notification on your phone. I simply ensure that there are times when they are and aren’t displayed.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
Unfortunately I haven’t been an avid reader of books recently (although it is my New Year’s resolution to get into a better habit of it). But what I have found useful is reading profiles and features, and even op-eds, on the growth and development of startups and their founders.
I’ve always been fascinated in that, and it was also my favourite type of article to write for Business Insider.
Really getting to know the inner workers of a rising entrepreneur, the way they think, what they are worried about, and how they are thinking about the future — that’s where I have found a lot of my inspiration and lessons for life and business over the past couple of years.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
I have great morning routine that when I follow it, I know I will be more productive throughout the day.
It involves waking up at 5.30am, going to the gym for 45 minutes. I then head home, make a coffee and put on a great playlist while I get ready.
Then on the bus on the way in to the CBD, I catch up on the latest news and emails, and by the time I hit the office I feel fresh and full of energy to take on the day.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think as technology gets increasingly embedded into our daily lives, the definitions of work-life balance will become more blurred. In some ways, we will (and already are able to) better track our habits, but I think the key is to just remain aware of it.
Try to have routines which force you to have a break and disconnect. Maybe it’s a class at the gym or picking your child up from daycare. Set boundaries.
I’m also trying to be a better role model for younger colleagues coming up through the ranks at work. My goal is to set an example and show them that it’s possible to succeed and achieve balance.
If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!