Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Ali Cassim​, Head of Marketing, Product & Digital at BridgeClimb Sydney

Ali Cassim​ is the Head of Marketing, Product & Digital at BridgeClimb Sydney, an integral part of the city’s scene.

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

I’m currently head of marketing, product and digital at BridgeClimb. I began the role at the end of November 2019 and fair to say there has never been a dull day!

I didn’t anticipate then I’d have the heartbreaking experience of closing down a 20 year old iconic tourism business due to the pandemic, or the experience of getting to be part of the incredible team to rebuild it. It’s been a rollercoaster, but the opportunity for a clean slate is rare and liberating – we’ve had a chance to rethink most areas of the business and the results are incredibly positive as we slowly see Sydney recover.

Previous to BridgeClimb, my background was largely at digital businesses – from more mature through to start-ups. I love the pace of digital, the innovation, and the level of data available to inform decisions.

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

As a Mum of two young kids (3 and 6 yrs), my mornings are not my own often! If I need to get some early work done, I’ll get up at 5.30-6am to give myself an hour or so before the kids are up. I work well early, so I enjoy that time. My husband has a varied work schedule so whether he is on hand to divide and conquer on daycare/ school preparation and drop-offs, will also impact each morning differently.

One of the benefits (strange to say) of the pandemic in my mind, has been the acceptance of a more flexible work week. Currently I’m in the office 3 days/week and home 2. I find the mix ideal – there’s the chance to connect and collaborate in person with colleagues but also the chance to deep dive into work uninterrupted at home and be there for my kids. An extra bonus at BridgeClimb is that I can bring my dog Molly to work! So when suits, she’s by my side at the office.

Whether I’m in the office or not, my work day is incredibly varied – with everything from business and marketing strategy work and reporting, product & partnership discussions, campaign creative reviews, website product and UX development, and everything in between. I’d say there’s a fairly good balance between meetings and focussed desk time.

I’ll generally aim to switch off/get home for kids’ dinner and bedtime and then jump back into some work after they’ve gone to bed as needed.

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

I was once told that the reality is more work-life integration than work-life balance. Overall, it’s a juggle, and I don’t mind working around the clock in effect, if it means I can take the time I need (within reason) for my family and to achieve other goals too.

To be honest, I’ve far from perfected the balance. I love my career, family, friends, holidays, exercise, time for myself and there’s currently a compromise on the time I get for exercise and myself especially.

It’s something I’m conscious of and I’m always working to improve my routine to ensure everything important gets time and to give myself some space. I realise also that the current juggle is just the life phase I’m in, and growing kids will continue to change things also.

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

My most recent book was A Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger (ex-CEO of Disney). I love hearing people’s stories and so thinking of another couple of business auto-biographies I’ve loved, I’d recommend Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (founder of Nike) and Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh (the founder of Zappos).

For podcasts, I love Brene Brown for life and work, and have listened to a few parenting podcasts recently featuring Maggie Dent.

As for newsletters, a mix of marketing, digital start-ups, travel and general business newsletters fill my inbox – too many to mention! However, something I’m delving into more and more across all channels are ideas and business movements relating to climate change – from innovations impacting power, agriculture and the circular economy and beyond – I’m interested in learning more, and exploring how I might best play my part in the needed transitions to come. Springwise is one newsletter that always delivers on providing a broad range of cutting-edge ideas.

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

Such a tricky one! So many people I know directly, mentors, past colleagues and current, that I should ask. But for someone well-known, locally I think of women like Emma Isaacs from Business Chicks and her juggle of the amazing business she’s developed while raising a big family.

For the global, Richard Branson comes to mind for the fact he seems to have achieved a close happy family life, plenty of adventures for himself, while creating an empire that seems true to himself.

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

A few rambling sentiments for you – live your values, be yourself, be kind (including to yourself), love what you do or leave (if you’re in a position to), and work hard to get what you want! 

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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.