Susie Jones is the co-founder & CEO of Cynch, an Australian-based cybersecurity company focused on helping small businesses build “cyber fitness.”
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
After 10 years as an Insurance Broker working with very smart people in a very undervalued industry, I was keen to look for a new career. I could see the next 30 years of my life in insurance and knew I didn’t want it.
I looked around for a change and negotiated my way into a role at Australia Post as their Insurance Manager. My ability to get people on board was a valuable skill here and I quickly grew my role to cover more aspects of risk transfer and management. This job was when I first got into risk and cybersecurity, and discovered a love for it.
At Australia Post I started working with Adam Selwood, whose technology skills greatly compliment my risk management experience. We started seeing the same big problem – how do small business owners overcome a cyber breach?
There was no real support or training for small businesses to understand cyber risks and deal with the fallout from an attack. Adam and I spent 6 months working in this problem space for a project at Australia Post.
When this project wrapped, we had both found a problem we were really passionate about, and had found a great working partnership too, so we started developing a solution of our own.
In mid 2018, we launched Cynch, a cyber security platform to help small business leaders prevent an incident from becoming one of the worst days of their career.
We partner with small businesses, continuously profiling their cyber risks and providing the people at the heart of these businesses with everything they need to build and demonstrate cyber fitness in less than 5 minutes at a time, at a price they can afford.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A day in the life of a start-up founder can be pretty chaotic and unpredictable.
Now that I have an amazing Head of Operations who manages most of the business side of owning a startup, my focus is on responding to customer enquiries, speaking to potential partners, drafting and delivering webinars and other lead generation activities.
There’s also reaching out to various government officials who are tasked with helping small businesses with cyber to let them know there’s a home-grown solution right here!
Pre-COVID this meant face-to-face meeting after meeting and carefully managing my diary so I had time to get from one place to another. Now it’s video call after video call from my apartment and trying to make sure I have time to eat in between!
I’m also really passionate about supporting our team, so I spend quite a bit of time on calls with each of them to make sure they have what they need to succeed.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely. Cynch has always been totally flexible, so whilst we did have an office space we all worked from prior to the pandemic, when it was time to switch to remote working we all just picked up our laptops and plugged them in at home.
We want our people to work from wherever they need and want to, so even now we will continue to offer a hybrid arrangement, with the whole team being in one place every 6 weeks for a team planning session.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance means having the boundaries in place that allow you to work and live from the same location, without them blending into one.
For me, I no longer place too much pressure on myself to work all hours of the night unless I really want to, and I don’t place those expectations on my team either.
Practically speaking, when I work from my desk at home I have the lamp on and both screens going, and I’m always wearing shoes. When it’s time to log off for the days I kick off those shoes, turn off the lamp and move to the couch.
That simple difference helps with the switch from work to home clearer, and allows me to be present when I’m with family or friends away from work.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
During lockdown in Melbourne I started learning more about painting, my apartment is now filled with paintings I’ve done, and although I’m clearly no artist, I’m proud of how much I’ve improved. Learning more about this art form has given me a new hobby that I love, it’s a great way to just be still and calm, an escape from the 2020 malaise for a while.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Start with Why, by Simon Sinek. This book has truly shaped the way I think about business, startups and by extension, life.
Also, The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. From a new founder or CEO perspective, this book gives really valuable lessons.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
It goes without saying that internet banking, email, messenger apps, Google Chrome are essential to me being able to function and work!
Also, typical of a startup founder, my Xero app. I’d be remiss if I also didn’t mention my password manager which remembers all of my passwords for me and ensures they are kept safe from cyber criminals!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Definitely Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I find AOC absolutely fabulous and would be really interested in reading how she balances her time and work. She’s truly leading the way of women in the States. I love reading about women who are out there doing something that we’ve been told we can’t do, or shouldn’t do.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Self-care and managing the right balance is something that needs to be actively practiced. It can be so easy, especially when you love your job, to fall into old habits of prioritising work over life.
I recommend everyone find a way to consciously adjust the way they work to make sure you’re giving every part of yourself what it needs to continue to thrive.
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