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A Day in the Life: Crimson Education's Sharndre Kushor

Sharndre Kushor is the chief operating officer of Crimson Education, an education consultancy that helps students get into Ivy League universities. Here's how she gets through the day, how she organises her time and how she handles the madness of business.

What time do you wake up? 
I usually wake up when the sunrises – I trade the natural light over an alarm clock any day! I spend about half my time traveling between offices at the moment and lots of my sleeptime is actually on airplanes! 
 
What’s the ideal way to start your day? 
I try to start my day with a power swim or run to really wake me up and get my blood pumping for what is usually a very busy and intense day ahead. 
 
Do you have any morning rituals? 
Crimson currently operates cross 27 countries – when I wake up I usually do a quick scan of messages that came through overnight to prioritise and delegate things quickly so that things can get done. 
 
How soon do you begin doing work-related things, i.e. checking phone or emails? 
A quick scan of what's been going on across our teams is something I tend to do first thing when I wake up. 
 
What’s your media consumption or interaction like from the morning onwards – do you listen to podcasts, radio, watch videos, read book and magazines, visit new sites?
I read The Economist and BBC news regularly and have also found in the past few years, lot of my media consumption has been driven by social media. I love to read, watch movies and I also listen to a lot of music. I'm currently reading reading Stephen Hawking's book Brief Answers to Big Questions. My favourite movie this year was Crazy, Rich Asians
What kind of work do you do? 
I'm the chief operating officer and a co-founder of Crimson Education. We support students from all around the world to gain admission to the world's best universities in the US (Ivy League universities like Harvard, Yale and Princeton) and in the UK (Oxford, Cambridge and other Russell Group Schools). In my role I oversee our global growth and teams, service and education teams and some of our subsidiary companies like Medview (Medview helps high school students in New Zealand and Australia gain admission to Medical School. Last year 60 percent of undergraduate students admitted to medical school used Medview). 
 
What’s unique about your line of work? 
I get to work with students to help them achieve their goals and ultimately help them to unlock dreams that, in many cases, they never knew were possible prior to working with us. My proudest moment over the past five years, was when one of our first students (who I worked with closely while he was at high school), got into Harvard University. When I first met him he thought he wanted to be a doctor, he is now studying Economics and Computer Science and just secured an internship at one of the US's top hedge funds. 
 
What responsibility does that involve in a typical day? What takes up most of your time? 
I spend a lot of time working with our team to make sure that our students are having the best experience and getting the best outcomes from their support with us. 
 
Who do you see/talk to? 
Our team currently comprises of about 200 full time staff and 2300 tutors, mentors and consultants who are based across the US, the UK and Asia. On a typical day, I find myself spending a lot of time with our service and education team, as well as with our country managers. 
 
Where do your best ideas come from? 
My best ideas come from being a listener and observer. I've become quite good at balancing the desire to think and act fast with the desire to be considered and thoughtful. I like to ask lots of questions and then carefully consider the information that I get to think of creative ideas and solutions. I rarely find the arriving at the right solution the hardest part. It's mobilising your team to get behind the idea and then execute on it in the right way that it always the most challenging and is often the step that I see many people in business get stuck on. 
 
What are the most important tools or programmes you use for your work? 
I'm a big fan of conversations over emails – we use Slack as our internal messaging tool at the moment and send about 60,000 messages a week as a company! 
 
How do you juggle all your responsibilities?
I am always thinking about what needs to be prioritised based on urgent business need and what is strategically important. I also have a great team who are some of the most talented and intelligent people I have met who help Jamie and I to tackle all of our projects and tasks that need to get done. 
 
What kind of breaks do you take throughout the day? 
I prefer to start and finish things in one go and as a result of that regular breaks can be a bit of a luxury. When I do have time in between whatever I'm doing, I spend it grabbing some food with friends or with our Crimson team! 
 
What’s the most enjoyable part of your day? 
I enjoy most of my day, because I'm always doing things that require me to solve problems. I am fulfilled when I am doing something that I know makes a positive difference in the world and I also feel really fulfilled when I am working along side people who I can learn from and who challenge me to think about things in new and different ways. 
 
What about the least enjoyable? 
It's hard to generalise a least enjoyable – probably the least enjoyable part of my week last week was having two of my Deliveroo food deliveries cancelled in one day when I was in Sydney! 
 
Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?
I don't procrastinate, however, I do often listen to music while I work.
 
Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how? 
The best measure of my success in my role at Crimson is how well our students do, how much they love their time at Crimson and how quickly we grow as an organisation. On a day-to-day basis, I try to balance more strategic conversations with hands on work with teams to make sure that things are moving in the right direction quickly enough. To try to strike this balance, I create priority lists that I work through each day - I do this mainly to make sure that I'm not forgetting another important but it also acts as a tool for me to track how much I'm getting through in the day and what I'm accomplishing. 
 
Is there anything you think is unique about your day? 
Every day is very different and is quite unique! 
 
What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? 
My family has a family group chat that everyone is super active on. It's really awesome because we can share exciting parts of our day no matter where we are in the world. I also have group chats with my close friends – I've been friends with many of them since I was at intermediate school and they are a big part of my life. 
 
Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/partner/friend? 
Many of the world's best entrepreneurs really value spending time with the people they love. Take Jeff Bezos for example, when describing his daily routine, he often talks about how he prioritises spending time with his kids over breakfast over doing early morning meetings. My view is that when you're young, ambitious and have huge goals, sometimes you have to sacrifice spending time with the people you love in order to achieve the goals you have. Sacrificing this is something I think can happen sometimes, but not all the time, otherwise you can lose who you are. However, as you get older and you get closer to achieving your goals, you have more freedom to do the things you really want to do with your loved ones. Nurturing the relationships I have with people who matter to me is important. Sometimes I can't spend as much time with my family and friends as I would like to. I manage this by making sure that I am still in touch and that they are still part of my life even if I can't be with them physically all the time.
 
Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation? 
I don't tend to get super stressed however I think it's very important to learn how to be able to reset and quickly jump between different thinking topics. Last year I started using Headspace mediation app and it taught me how to reset anywhere, anytime and since then it's something that I'm a huge fan of. 
 
What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off? 
It varies a lot depending on what time I get home. On the days I get home in the early evening, I have dinner with my family and some days after dinner we all watch a movie. I love Christmas – at the moment we watch whatever Christmas movie is new on Netflix! 
 
What time do you go to sleep? 
My sleeping routine varies a lot depending on the timezone I'm in. I'm a night owl and when I'm in New Zealand I usually go to sleep between 11pm and 1am. 

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