Zaki Bouguettaya is the co-founder & CEO at QPay, a campus engagement platform for university unions, societies and clubs.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Before embarking on QPay, I founded an app development company, Imagine Team out of universities- one of the first in Australia with clients in Adidas/Coerver, the AIHW, NICTA, Optus, and dozens more.
I also built MyBus in his last year at university, which garnered close to 250,000 downloads and revolutionised the way people used public transport. I am currently the CEO of QPay, a university student engagement platform.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Most of my days start with going through emails that come through over the previous day. Most of them are support enquiries, and I strongly believe in being involved in support, as it provides a pulse for the state of the business and your customers.
I then typically have a daily catch up with my product managers, to get an overview of any roadblocks, updates, or issues. I then typically work with the developers on various tasks for the remainder of the working day. I then typically unwind by reading business news, and reviewing any social aspects of our platform, to stay updated.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I believe most software companies are able to work remotely, as an inherent benefit of being digital. Having said that, I don’t believe most people are conditioned to working remotely, so most of the challenges are subjective, and are rarely around the technical aspects of the business
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I’m not sure I’m the best to answer that question! I am acutely aware of the importance of a work-life balance, and typically suggest that founders create a “physical barrier” between their work life and personal life.
This typically involves a schedule (doing work at the office, exercising). The pandemic has obviously changed a lot of those schedules, but I find creating a space in your home that is as distinct as possible assists.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Most of them are actually poor habits I’ve picked up- namely less exercise, and more eating! I have however become more aware of the importance of a work-life balance, and find myself in the habit of making the delineation clearer.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I mostly listen to news-focussed podcasts, such as the BBC World Service, and Freakonomics
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Like most people, my phone! I also think Slack is an incredibly valuable tool, as it combines notifications about various actions within our business, and inter-team communications
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s easy to get swept away by the various nuances of business, certainly one where there is a strong emotional investment involved such as a startup. The founders I most look up to, have the amazing ability to pick up and absorb what is important, and discard what isn’t.
Often it’s easy to confuse the two, prescribing importance to things that actually don’t really matter, or vice versa. An example would be a support email that comes at midnight- early stage founders sometimes obsess in making sure that responses are given ASAP, when if a step back is taken, it actually becomes clear that most people don’t need an immediate turn around and are just as happy with a response the following day.
Obviously striving for excellent customer support is important, but it has to be weighed against mental health, and a positive work-life balance.
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