Balancing the Grind with Adam Ross, Content Lead at Coca-Cola South Pacific

Adam Ross is the Content Lead at Coca-Cola South Pacific, where he leads strategy and idea development across all the brands.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I started off tackling knife crime and gun crime as a communications strategist at Mediacom London on the Metropolitan Police account.

That was the best experience I could have had, as I was learning the craft of communications strategy from some of the best in the business (Chris Binns, Matt Buttrick, Steve Gladdis, Sue Unerman, Matt Mee), whilst seeing the need for and power of creativity to make an impact and get noticed.

The client was the police, the audience were criminals and the message was “don’t be” essentially! So really understanding the drivers of the people you’re targeting and how to effectively get them to take notice of you through creativity was drummed into me from the very start.

I took that grounding with me and continued to hone my craft in strategic and creative thinking, moved to Mindshare Sydney and went on to lead strategy across Nike, Unilever, Kellogg, Diageo, Land Rover, Jaguar, American Express and Foxtel.

I got a bit frustrated after a while as I didn’t feel I was bringing enough of a fresh perspective to my clients by being their dedicated strategist. Thankfully, I had an amazing boss at the time in Katie Rigg-Smith who challenged me with a blank piece of paper to write a new job description designed to bring creativity and fresh thinking to all of our clients.

That led to the creation of the “Co-Creation” team and I went on to join the national leadership team with my role being to lead, inspire and inject creativity into all we did.

I then made the leap from media to creative after being asked to bring strategy and creative closer together as ECD at creative agency the projects*. Then I leapt from agency to client, joining Coca-Cola where I lead strategy and idea development across all brands.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

Thankfully, every day is different and that is what I love.

Typically I drop my son off at daycare and go for an hour long walk listening to a podcast or simply letting my mind wander. I find that that has been an important habit to get into to start the day right.

The majority of my day is then spent mostly talking about the work. Be that attending strategic or creative presentations with our agencies, time with my team to offer guidance and direction on the work and next steps, or internal meetings to help sharpen our briefs for example.

I’ll spend time with our agency partners to make sure they are feeling energized and excited about what we’re doing and identify any areas where we need to do things better.

I also place a lot of attention in fueling and inspiring creativity – both my own and those around me. So I dedicate time to immersing myself in what is new and interesting from both inside and outside our category and often outside marketing itself. I then find different ways of sharing that to drive a culture of and appreciation for creativity.

That also helps fuel my mind for exploring new approaches to do what we do differently and ensure we are always thinking ahead. Or as my mother-in-law puts it, I sit around and think all day.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Yes absolutely. Currently I spend two days in the office and three days at home.

As a team we all trust each other and over-communicate to allow us all the flexibility to work where and how we want.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

I have two young kids and so work-life balance to me means being able to spend time with them and first and foremost be a great dad.

Prior to COVID, when we were all in the office I communicated that and made a point at leaving on time to get home to give my son dinner, his bath and to read him a story before bed with my wife. Once he was down, I’d check my emails and get back to anything urgent if it was needed.

I also have two phones, a work one and a personal one. Everyone knows my work phone is off after 7pm and all weekend. I find that that is a great way to be fully present when I’m home.

I don’t think that this is something that’s only important for parents. The thing I choose to make my priority is my kids. But for someone else, what’s important to them could be going for a surf when the conditions are perfect or before it gets too dark for example. They too should be able to communicate that and feel free to go and do it.

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Making sure I go for a long walk first thing in the morning is something I’ve introduced. It helps me reset each day, clear my mind and step into the day feeling calm and positive.

I’ve recently been doing a course on Coursera called The Science Of Wellbeing and as part of that I’ve started keeping a gratitude journal and doing things like that.

I’ve always loved ocean swimming and did a couple of competitive swims last summer which were awesome. I enjoy yoga and am trying to form the habit of going to the gym in the evenings, not quite there just yet with the consistency but will get there.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Anything by Dave Trott. His clarity of thought is incredible. I also enjoy Bob Hoffman, the Adcontrarian. BBH Labs always share incredibly insightful posts.

With podcasts, I enjoy listening to Stuff From The Loft by David Dye to hear from some great advertising thinkers, occasionally The Daily for some quick news updates, This American Life for cool random stories and recently I’ve quite enjoyed listening to On Purpose with Jay Shetty.

I also love Quickly Kevin Will He Score, which is all about English football in the 90s and very entertaining.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

I honestly don’t think so. I went on holiday last week and turned my phone off the entire time and did not miss a single thing. Being present without any distractions was amazing. If I had to choose to keep something it would be Spotify.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Probably the Obamas. What I admire about them is how high profile and pressurized their jobs were (are), yet they still appeared to be able to focus and prioritize their own relationship and that with their kids too. Would love to hear more about any strategies they put in place to do that so seemingly well.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I try to make sure I’m giving my best energy to the people that matter most – my wife and kids. I don’t always do that and get disappointed in myself when I don’t.

You can too often get caught up in giving all your positive energy to your team or your colleagues and then when you get home you don’t want to talk.

For me that is the wrong way around and I try to be more conscious of that to avoid it. Also, someone once said to me to focus your energy on the people who will be at your funeral. That has stayed with me.

Finally, it is really important to focus on yourself and take time to look after your own physical, mental and emotional wellbeing. You can’t run on empty, so to be a better partner, friend, colleague, parent, whatever it is, it starts with making sure you look after yourself.

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.