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Balancing the Grind with Nathan Knight, Director & General Manager – ANZ Data Center Group at Lenovo

Nathan Knight is a Director & General Manager for at Lenovo, where he leads the Data Center Group business across Australia and New Zealand.

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

Thriving in evolving environments that contest the status quo, and in roles in high-growth tech challenger organisations, I have acquired 20 years of experience working in senior leadership positions at international ICT and SaaS businesses.

I’ve held business and sales management roles for IT manufacturers, distributors and telecommunications companies, and garnering international commercial experience across Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Europe and Africa.

I joined Lenovo in 2014 and led the Lenovo Data Center Group’s (Lenovo DCG) Channel and SMB divisions across Australia and New Zealand.

I am now General Manager and Director for Lenovo Data Center Group in ANZ, I am responsible for developing and delivering on the business strategy, which includes leading the sales, marketing, services and product teams in driving the business through its ambitious growth trajectory.

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

As I work with stakeholders across several time zones, I get an early start by checking my emails at 5:30am and responding to anything urgent before heading to the gym at 6am.

My diary is typically packed from 8:00am to 6:00pm with calls and meetings to connect with my local teams, business partners and customers, with time in between spent on business planning and execution.

Given I’m working with people from New Zealand, to Perth, and Singapore, if I’m commuting into the office I’ll use those hours at the very start and very end of the day for calls that are better suited for stakeholders in those time zones.

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

My current role definitely allows for flexible and remote working. If I can, I will catch up with functional and financial leaders in person once a week to collaborate and power through planning, but have all the equipment and facilities I need to fulfil my role remotely and online with minimal disruption.

I’m able to start my day and finish my day as I need, which allows me to prioritise what is important to me – my family.

Our flexible working arrangements at Lenovo DCG means that I am able to go to the gym with my daughter in the morning, take the dog for a walk with my wife, who also works from home, at lunch and have dinner with my family.

As the leader of the business, I do need to ensure I’m accessible to the stakeholders where and when they need me, but am able to fit this within my family’s schedule.

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

For me, work-life balance means being able to prioritise my family as much as I can.

Obviously as the leader of a large global business operating across Australia and New Zealand with many internal and external stakeholders, there are always going to be unavoidable late customer calls or planning and review work that needs to take place on the weekend.

However, by taking full advantage of flexible working arrangements, I’m able connect with my family at the start and end of the day during the working week and largely dedicate my weekends to spending time with them.

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

The switch to remote working across the organisation has given me back hours in my day that would typically be spent on commuting to and from the office. I’ve been able to replace this with a morning routine that includes an hour of exercise daily.

I am a keen rugby player and the extra time has allowed me to get to rugby training 6:30 pm mid-week. As a new ‘Northern Beaches’ resident, joining the Newport Rugby Club has been a great way to make new friends and get integrated into the local community.

I have played rugby my whole life and have always found it a good way to burn off stress at the end of a busy week. The hardest part is trying to avoid injury at my age!

In the past 12 months I’ve also proactively reduced meeting duration times by between 5 and 15 minutes wherever possible, as I find it these slightly shorter meetings produce the same outcomes but give me more time back in my day.

The next iteration of this habit involves consistently re-prioritising the calls I do have scheduled, understanding which are actually effective and necessary, and taking a more flexible approach to managing those that aren’t critical.

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

While I’m working my way through the Harvard Business Review’s ‘10 Must Reads’ collection, I am currently a big fan of audiobooks – right now I’m listening to Leaders by General Stanley McChrystal.

As a rugby buff hailing from New Zealand, I’m also loving the book Legacy by James Kerr which shares stories and lessons in leadership and business through the successes of the legendary All Blacks.

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

News apps like that from The Australian Financial Review are essential for keeping across what’s happening in the market and informing my decision making as a leader.

Programs like Microsoft Teams ensure I’m able to connect and collaborate with my internal and external stakeholders with ease while we all navigate the new normal that is remote working.

Applications like Map My Run have allowed me to challenge myself and keep myself accountable in incorporating habitual exercise into my daily routine.

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

Author and motivational speaker, Simon Sinek, or Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO.

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

Work-life balance looks different for everyone. I reckon you need to understand what ‘balance means to you’, consistently take stock of how well or poorly you are balancing your personal and professional lives, and recalibrate accordingly.

For me, I have a list of people I hold myself accountable to both inside and outside of work, and this gives me a barometer for balance and allows me to see clearly in which areas I’m over or under indexing.

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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.