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Balancing the Grind with Gaiti Rabbani, CEO of Rabbani Collective

Gaiti Rabbani is the CEO of Rabbani Collective, where she works with organisations to drive change, transform culture and embed desired behaviours.

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

I am the founder of a business, Rabbani Collective, that I established 6 years ago. As an Executive Advisor, People and Culture, I help organisations harness the potential of their people through the design and delivery of bespoke learning and development programs.

I am also a Cultural Intelligence (CQ) Specialist and author of a recently launched business book, Curious about Culture.

Before establishing the business, I worked in retail management with what I would consider Australia’s only true luxury brand, Paspaley, for 4 years after relocating from Dubai in 2010. 

My career in Dubai spanned 18 years starting in retail, moving onto petroleum and then in various roles with the Dubai government for a large part of that time working to establish the emirate as a regional business hub.

To be part of the growth of an emerging economy was an incredible experience – one you can’t capture on a traditional CV.  That experience served me well. Being in high paced, ambitious project environments in senior management positions allows for a holistic view of business and leadership with a result driven mindset.

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

An ideal day starts with a 6.45 am Barre class followed by a good coffee. After that I’m set for the workday.  

My days are varied, thank goodness, as I languish in routine. Depending on where I am in a project cycle, my day can involve designing and planning for a training program or preparing for a coaching engagement. Much of this can be done from my desk. 

So, I try to schedule in some breaks – perhaps a walk while listening to some music or a coffee catch up with a client or a friend. As a trained Barre/Pilates instructor I occasionally cover a studio class mid-week which is a nicely active and social break all in one.

On other days I might be in the delivery phase of a client program or have a scheduled client coaching conversation which is likely to be face to face or of late via Zoom.  These days can be all consuming for a facilitator and I’m left with very little energy after.

A perfect day ends with either a lovely home cooked meal or a dinner out at a favourite restaurant and an evening of Argentine tango dancing. I might have missed the part where I catch a power nap somewhere in between to recharge!

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

I have a home office, so I enjoy a lot of flexibility. As much as I prefer in-person engagement, I have recently upgraded all my technology to allow for virtual delivery which, on the upside, has increased my reach to regional and global clients.

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

It was always my intention to work 3 days a week, but the reality is that work comes in waves.  Being quite an active person, I have learned to schedule time in for classes or walks and plan my days around it else my personal wellbeing can suffer.

A spinal injury means I can’t sit at my desk for long periods of time so I’m always conscious of managing that to avoid a flare up which can set me back for weeks.  I also block time out between bigger projects so I’m not running from one to another but can actually recover and reset and often I take short trips away.

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

During the pandemic I started a routine of going out for morning coffee with my partner.  He’s a big picture person and an ever optimist so our conversations framed my day by pulling me out of the day-to-day uncertainties we were all navigating.  It’s now become an essential and favourite part of my day.

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

I’m a big fan of Brené Brown, her podcasts feature interesting people with real stories that are relatable.  She’s so authentic, her energy is catching and there’s always at least one lightbulb moment.

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

My Mont Blanc limited edition pearl pen! It goes everywhere with me, I’m an avid note taker in meetings and it exudes style!

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

Would it sound arrogant to say I wouldn’t be looking for an interview on that topic as I feel I’ve got that covered! If you know someone who can talk about the alignment of self in a personal and professional capacity in a manner that speaks to our real-world scenarios – then I’m listening.

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

My advice – prioritise time for you and learn to switch off – minus the guilt! It’s so easy to be switched ‘on’ all the time with increasingly blurred lines between professional and personal. 

Start by blocking out essential ‘me’ time to do the things that energise you. Everything else can fit around that. You will feel more empowered, be more focussed and ultimately be more productive.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.