How this Leader Balances her Roles as CEO and Head Designer


Alex Moss is CEO, head designer and, occasionally, the person who fixes the 3D printer at predictive biometrics company Canaria Technologies.

Wake up: hair, make-up, strong hazelnut-flavoured coffee with soy milk. I contemplate going to the gym but I actually only go about two per cent of the time.

The whole technical team touches base in a daily engineering stand-up meeting, to cover how tasks are going and to ask for help if there are problems. I take minutes to catch any unfamiliar terminology. Later I look into how encrypted Amazon S3 buckets work for our new cloud back end to ensure that our users’ data has a fail-safe redundancy in case of errors or data loss, while maintaining two-tier anonymisation.


I review emails with my executive assistant. I find it easier to make decisions in a conversation so she’ll read out my emails while we have coffee and then type my responses. We get through 50 in an hour and a half. On my own, I’d get through 10 to 15.

Prepare for investor meeting.

I hate to waste time so I’ve arranged a lunch meeting with an important stakeholder. Donna Chang, with its 1950s décor, is my favourite Chinese restaurant in Brisbane. I also like the Art Nouveau-inspired Cloudland in Fortitude Valley and the Art Deco whisky bar, Savile Row, a few doors down. I keep my meals at home healthy to counter decadent business lunches and I won’t drink if I have anything important to send out that day.

Because we’re at the paid pilot and pre-order stage of our AI-integrated predictive wearable devices [capable of forecasting heat exhaustion and extreme cognitive fatigue in users in sectors such as resources, aerospace and defence], it’s particularly important to allow at least an hour per day to review how our client pipeline is going and make sure our existing clients are up-to-date. I prefer phone calls; bad connections in video calls can be frustrating and it’s easy to misinterpret the tone of an email. I email to let people know I’m going to phone them about a specific topic then I call.

Engineering meeting. We build all of our software and hardware in-house to medical-device and intrinsic-safety standards, which adds a lot of pressure to development. It’s crucial that we have regular, in-person engineering meetings between the hardware and software teams to prevent siloing and miscommunication. I play an active role in the design of our devices and software dashboards so our brand aesthetic is consistent. We always stay a version or two ahead of what we’re deploying in field pilots.


The 3D printer breaks down while prototyping a new version of our equipment. I spend 30 minutes repairing it – I’m only half an hour behind schedule, which I consider a good day. I look over at our electronics engineers working on the new circuit board for the same prototype and feel thankful that I don’t have to hand-solder anything.

Client meeting. These are always face-to-face. If it’s not appropriate to send them an agenda I’ll still send an internal one to any of my team who are attending. I make visual presentations with Prezi, especially when we’re covering a complex topic, such as the intricacies of a new technology that we’re developing.

I ride a CityCycle bike to an event. I use this time to listen to podcasts or audio books. At the moment I’m fascinated by Eric Weinstein [The Portal] and the way he draws from multiple areas of science and culture to make decisions for Peter Thiel’s investment firm, Thiel Capital.

Due to our academic partner, the University of Cambridge, being in the United Kingdom, I reserve two hours in the evening for checking in with our research team in Europe to make sure our focus and exhaustion studies are going well. But over the past year I’ve been getting more requests to speak at events. Recently I was MC at a charity function where these guide dogs started fighting each other onstage so I had to fill 10 minutes with every dog joke I could think of while the handler calmed them down.

I head to the airport and catch up on emails at the gate, sending as I complete them. Scheduling responses takes too long and has little pay-off; people I work with know I pull long hours. Then I remember to update Canaria’s social media pages.

Schedule send

Researchers from the universities of Sussex and Surrey have found company policies restricting access to email at night and on weekends could stress some workers. The paper, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior in September, found people are driven by one of four work-email goals: to be effective; show compassion; preserve wellbeing; or have more control. Those identified as “agreeable” or prioritising performance don’t want to delay hitting “reply”.

Volkswagen cut access to email out of office hours in 2012. Daimler introduced software in 2014 that deletes emails sent to employees on leave. And workers in France have had the legal “right to disconnect” from calls and emails related to their job since 2017. But the paper’s authors concluded that “one-size-fits-all email policies are misplaced.”

I’m flying to Perth to survey a site for our next pilot deployment in Australia. On the plane I read a report from our data scientist on predicting heat exhaustion based on our new dual ambient and skin temperature sensors. Then I put on an entertaining eye mask because they usually get the flight attendants to smile and I can pretend to be Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

00:15 (Perth time)
Bags, cab and hotel check-in.


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