Balancing the Grind with Suzanne McConchie, Engineering Strategy Manager at Ford Australia

Suzanne McConchie is the Engineering Strategy Manager at Ford Australia where she leads a team across strategy, innovation, learning & development and engineering process improvement.

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

Currently I am an Engineering Strategy Manager at Ford Motor Company and have been with the company for 17 years. During this time, I spent 11 years in the production plant where we built the Ford Falcon and Territory.

When the factory closed, I moved into the Product Development team where I spent four years in the Design Studio, then into my current Engineering Strategy role in 2019.  I also had two children at that time, taking parental leave after the birth of each child.

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

Typically, I get out of bed around 6:15am (quietly so I don’t wake the kids!) and do a 30 minute HIIT class live streamed at home. Come 7am, it’s game on! The family is up and we get dressed, eat breaky (green smoothie for me) and are all out the door by 8am.

I work from home two days per week, two days in the office and one day off, so if it’s a  WFH day, we walk to childcare, get a coffee, then back online at my computer by 8:45am.

Working from home usually consists of around four hours of meetings, a couple of hours of email responses, loads of team chatter over instant messaging and a couple of hours of ‘deep focus’ time, which could include reading and reviewing documents and spreadsheets.

My husband also works for Ford, and as we’re both currently working from home, we’re able to have a lunch break together and go for a walk.

When the end of the  day comes, normally around 5-6pm, I’ll jog down to childcare and collect our two year old while my husband prepares dinner. We’re not huge food connoisseurs at home, so dinner is normally a combination of meat and whatever veggies are in the fridge.

He (my husband) does the weekly grocery shop and also works four days per week, so we truly are equal when it comes to the home life juggle.

Our night time routine includes giving both kids a bath, dividing and conquering with a story book each, then lights out at 8pm. After that, we’ll usually watch an hour of TV, head to bed at 10pm, then rinse and repeat the next day!

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

Yes, as I work from home two days per week, two days in the office and am off one day, this has been perfect to manage our lifestyle. 

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

Work-life balance means feeling I have enough time for family, friends, exercise, food and work. It’s hard to say what ‘enough time’ is, but I know the feeling of not being in balance, so I make a concentrated effort to be aware  of where my head is week to week.

The struggle is identifying what to drop in order to be rebalanced. When things get out of control, it usually means I’ve overcommitted to help event planning for something extracurricular like a fundraiser or sports club function. When this happens, I know I just need to ask for extra help and get the job done.

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

Last year, I did a 90 day health and wellbeing program called “Life Quality Fitness & Nutrition”, and this program changed my life in wonderful ways and my health is so much better than it was in September last year.

I now do a minimum 30 mins of exercise six days a week, 10,000 steps a day and am eating  a far more balanced diet, including eight fist-fulls of veggies a day! 

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

Love, love The BuildHer Collective.

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

My step counting watch. It’s nothing fancy but I love to check where I’m at with my steps each day.

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

I often wonder how Carrie Bickmore gets everything done in her week with her radio show and TV commitments, as well as two kids at home.

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

Life is so busy these days – I think the key is knowing where your limits are and being kind to yourself about how well you are doing.

I feel like my husband and I are doing an ok job of life, I don’t think there is mastery when it comes to work-life balance. I think there is only constant living, reflecting, learning and evolution.  

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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.