Dr Catriona Wallace

CEO and Founder of Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning company, Flamingo Ai

Roles in life and work:
From a very young age I only ever wanted to be a farmer and mother. I went to agricultural school but decided to get out of my comfort zone so became a police officer in the NSW Police force.  After 4 years in the force, I wanted to get back into academia so did a Bachelors Degree, then a Masters and eventually a PhD in Organisational Behaviour and technology interaction at the AGSM at UNSW.

Whilst doing my PhD I launched a management consultancy and was raising 5 children. I also co-founded a Market Research firm, ACA Research and Customer Experience, Human Centred Design Consultancy, Fifth Quadrant.

I have also co-owned a nightclub and started a couple of non for profits: Indigo Express FundKids in Philanthropy.

What are you juggling right now in your life?
Right now I am CEO and Founder of ASX Listed Artificial Intelligence Machine Learning company, Flamingo Ai, based in Sydney and US. Second only female run and chaired organisation ever listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.

On top of running a business I’m also a mother with 3 older boys including 2 step sons, and have my daughter, Indigo in year 12 this year and Saxon my youngest son in year 10, both living at home going through normal teenage life angst. I’m also very close to and supporting my mother whom is re-learning to live without her life partner (my father) of 56 years with his passing last year. My partner, Dr Arne Rubinstein, lives in Byron Bay so we try to see each other every few weeks. Can be tricky investing enough time in important relationships whilst running a highly demanding business.

How do you value your time?
As a CEO of a tech scale up, with a partner and being a mother of 5, essentially that’s all I do. I have to think unconventionally about relationships and leadership and combine them all.

Recently I realised that it was super important for me to carve out some time for myself so I now meditate at 530am every morning and try to run in the evenings.

Time is very precious to me as I don’t have enough of it. In particular I do not get enough time with my friends – I wish this was different.

How do you manage your time effectively?

I’m sure there are better ways and systems out there to help with this, but I have an ongoing task list that grows by 4 x each time I tick one thing off so for me it’s all about what is the biggest fire I need to resolve right now before I get onto the next biggest fire.

My technique is, of a list of 10 important tasks that I complete 3 big tasks per day regardless if the other 7 fall over.

How do you separate work and personal time?
I don’t think of my time as personal time or work time. It’s just “life time” and I manage my time depending on the need at that moment that I am in. As an Entrepreneur I realised that I had to think of unconventional ways to manage home and work.

As a parent and in your career the more traditional path of thinking that you need to be multitasking everything in your personal life and work life at the same time to be successful, doesn’t really work. Actually it always fail or leads you to be self-critical as you are not doing any of those things particularly well.

I prefer to parent and work around situations that are more valuable – by example, I had to be in the US for 3 weeks but I didn’t want to be not around my children so I thought, actually I’m lucky enough to be able to take them with me – so I did. The school didn’t like that very much but I know my children learnt more about every day business from what they experienced shadowing me on my 3 week work trip then they ever would have in a classroom teaching geography or history.

What does your support network look like?
My support network, outside of Arne and my kids and family is strongly female based. I have a huge network of women, many also entrepreneurs, who provide unconditional support. I can be my authentic self with them. And I would give them the same support. Given I work in hyper-masculine environments, this is a great balance for me. I am super close to my kids who I share everything with. It’s very special. And Arne, who is an expert in masculinity and works with men and boys, has learned a lot about supporting a woman like me and does a great job.

What kind of conversations do you have with your inner voice?
I spend a lot of time in what I call “The Long Hall of Mirrors” looking at where I am failing or not being my best self or not performing. I have to strip back all my defences and find all my limiting beliefs and stories that I am running that do not serve. This is painful but so important. I hugely value learning and try to frame everything in this way. Pain and reflection is growth to me.

Do you have any time saving tips for the One P community?
I think the number one time saving tip for me is, if you can – outsource. Outsource everything. I even moved a brilliant woman, Eryn, into my house to look after my pets whilst I travel. Brilliant. Now Eryn looks after the kids and the house and it is amazing. Outsource everything that is not your most valuable relationships. That’s the secret!

A little more about Flamingo Ai
Based in the US and Australia, Flamingo Ai is an Enterprise SaaS company in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Machine Learning field, providing Cognitive platforms and Conversational AI. Products include machine learning based Intelligent FAQ & Knowledge Retrieval Assistants, Data Science as a Service Business Analytics tools and Virtual Assistants for simplex to complex workflows for customers and employees.

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