Tarmo Korela

Riding the waves of life in Sydney

Political science alumnus Tarmo Korela, Class of 2019, on the dangers of being a workaholic and why your mental health should always come first.

NYUAD: At 26, you’re the Chief Operating Officer of a hugely successful healthcare app. Is this where you thought you’d be?

Tarmo Korela: No! (laughs) After graduation I was a bit lost. I had interviews with different banks and was supposed to start at Goldman Sachs in Melbourne when I ended up meeting the CEO of one of Australia’s largest medical groups. He made me an offer to join in a startup he was funding, and now here I am, almost three years later.

NYUAD: What has been the hardest adjustment for you?

I always felt like I had to do more than what was expected. I had a lot of  responsibilities and some people didn’t take me seriously because I was so young. I was so overworked trying to manage my workload and impress everyone that I actually ended up in the hospital.

NYUAD: Really? What happened?

I had an anxiety attack, and other health complications. I was barely sleeping, not taking care of myself. After that, I shifted my mindset and started to look at my career as a long-term game instead of short-term.

NYUAD: How’s your health these days?

I’m doing great. Surfing is a big part of my life now. I wake up at 6am every day to go surfing in Sydney. When I run into the waves, I feel free and calm. It has taught me to pick my waves in life — some you paddle out for and some you let pass.

NYUAD: How do you think NYUAD prepared you for where you are now?

I’ve really built up my character in terms of how I can understand people’s different nationalities and life-paths. My work is a lot like being at NYUAD because I interact with people from many different backgrounds and collaborate with them to bring the benefits of technology into primary healthcare.