Thomas Paule is the Chief Digital, Technology & Marketing Officer at Findex, Australia’s largest privately owned financial advisory and accountancy firm.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve been with Findex for 12 years and during that time, I’ve seen the company grow from 40 people to 3,000.
The numerous acquisitions we’ve made along the way have created a dynamic environment, so my role has been one of evolution, helping to guide the digital, marketing and technology functions to mature and grow with the business.
My background is in marketing and digital application development and, off the back of the digital projects I’ve worked on, I’ve developed a deeper understanding of technology services and managed service infrastructure.
As the executive in charge of the Digital, Technology and Marketing divisions at Findex, I’m always being thrust into a new challenge.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My average day involves swapping hats between the different areas I look after alongside a series of management responsibilities. Generally, I wake up, grab a coffee and head to my desk, and then a day of meetings with my divisional leaders begins.
My role allows me to empower my key leaders whereby we agree on the strategy and direction, but it’s important they have the space and autonomy to decide on how we get there.
I believe that by managing an outcome, you get the best out of the people around you, and they also get an opportunity to shape the ideas and strategies into their own as well.
It’s important for me to keep pace with what’s happening in the market as well, so I try to allocate some time most days to reading widely and market research.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Post COVID-19, Findex has discovered that a hybrid working model is optimal for our organisation going forward.
Prior to COVID-19, we were heavily weighted towards going into the office every day, but we’ve had the opportunity to reimagine how we work and now we’re looking at a true flexible model for the future, which is quite exciting.
Under the new hybrid model, I’ll work from home when I need to get through some focused work, strategic planning or admin, and then I’ll head into the offices when I need to collaborate with my teams and meet with vendors or external people to the business.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I like fluidity between work and life, I don’t feel like I perform at my best when I’m locked into a rigid 9-5 workday. I think it prevents me from bringing my creative best to the role.
My role is more than work for me, it’s a passion and part of who I am, so I’m happy to take a few calls after hours and think about work in my down time when I’ve got the head space to do so.
Equally, I’m happy to step away from the desk during my workday to grab a coffee or go for a walk at lunch with my partner to ensure I’m keeping the work-life balance in check. Having that flexibility and integration between work and life is important to me.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve stopped the daily car commute into the office which was 45 minutes each way even though I live five or six kilometres from the Melbourne CBD.
The hour and a half in the car sitting in traffic is not something I miss. Working from home has meant I’ve been able to integrate lunch time exercise into my routine and I often go for a bike ride or run at lunch time, which was never a reality working in the city.
I love the balance that remote working provides. I used to use the commute time into the office to listen to a lot of audio books, instead, I can put that time into walking the dog or going to the gym. It’s a great way to unwind, gives me a greater sense of work-life balance and I’m sure the dog is a lot happier as well.
I’ve also found I’m eating better because I can prepare food at home rather than having to buy lunch every day. All these little changes amount to larger changes in my work routine, which has proved beneficial for my mindset and output.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I love sinking my teeth into a good audiobook and there’s a number of books I’d recommend.
Some of my favourites include Zero to One by Peter Thiel and The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin. Anything You Want by Derek Sivers is a great quick read and easy to digest if you’re looking for something interesting on how to grow a small business and small business marketing.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I love Audible and my Apple AirPods to listen to audiobooks on the go. Microsoft Teams has a great mobile app to stay connected to my team outside of work hours, and I use Google Keep for storing and keeping track of all my notes, news clippings and links.
I’ve found this incredibly helpful as a catchment for all my thoughts and musings; neatly stored away to be called upon when I need them.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’d love to learn more about Elon Musk’s work life balance. He’s someone who leads three major technology companies and based on the way he presents his ideas on those businesses, he clearly gets into the detail of how they run.
So, you wonder how he has the time to do it all and maintain any work-life balance. As successful as he is, maybe his work life balance is totally out of whack or maybe he’s figured out a system to manage it all. Either way, I’d love to learn from him.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
A successful work life balance for me means not having to compartmentalise work and life into two separate buckets. I think a fluid relationship between the two where work is a passion and part of your whole being results in the best outcome for your career.
In saying that, you also don’t want to overexert yourself and not have any down time or semblance of a personal life either. I’m a big advocate for breaking the 9-5 routine and finding micro breaks throughout the day to refresh yourself and do other things, weaving work and life together into a tapestry that best works for you.
The modern employer is also more understanding of this and more are starting to focus on outcomes-based management as opposed to monitoring how many hours you spend at the desk.
I’ve learnt that I don’t thrive in a highly structured environment and for me, too much of a routine can be a bad thing. I prefer to be fluid and fresh, keep myself on my toes and respond in a creative way, rather than a purely habitual one.
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