Amanda J. Little is the Managing Director of Intermedia Consulting, where she works on running specialised training for PR & comms professionals and mentoring to agency leaders.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career at Burson-Marsteller (BM) Sydney, a couple of years after graduating with a BA Comms from University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). I was volunteering for PRIA when I met my future Burson boss, at a PRIA event.
I spent ten years with BM, five in Sydney and five in Canberra. During this time, I went back to UTS part time and studied for a Master of Business of Administration (MBA). I found the MBA study expanded my knowledge and understanding of business and helped me be a better consultant and advisor to clients.
After BM, I had my own business for a couple of years before moving back to Sydney to work with H+K Strategies, first as Public Affairs Director, then Managing Director. I like to say my last proper agency job was Managing Director of Edelman Australia.
I left agency life in 2010 when my daughter was in primary school and started Intermedia Consulting to develop specialised training for PR and Comms professionals.
My current role is running specialised training for PR & Comms people and offering advice and mentoring to agency leaders.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My workdays have changed since COVID 19. No face to face workshops or meetings, it is now all on Zoom – like everyone else.
I recently ran an online all-day workshop for emerging account directors and had people from Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland attend. None of us had to travel the night before or battle traffic for an hour plus to be there.
In her feedback, the woman from Auckland said, ‘actually I had low expectations of an all-day streamed workshop – however, it was really good!’ So I’m enthusiastic about the future for being able to work together online.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
During Iso I relocated to the coast about two hours north of Sydney. This was something I had been thinking about for a while and the lockdown pushed it along. Working for myself I can be very flexible, almost too flexible sometimes.
At the start of lockdown, there were days where I stayed in my trackies and uggs the whole time. Now I get make sure I am dressed and at my desk for regular office hours with breaks and schedule non-work activities that I enjoy for the balance.
No commute means more time. I make sure I walk every morning and evening on the beach (having a dog that needs walking helps.)
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I am something of an expert in work-life balance after some spectacular work-life balance fails in my career.
I absolutely loved agency life. I was fortunate to work for companies that invested heavily in training and development. I was super driven and enthusiastic about learning and achieving. I was happy until I fell down with exhaustion, and then I wasn’t happy. In total, I’ve clocked up three career burn outs. You can’t do great work when you are exhausted.
I believe our brains are too distracted for too much time and it dulls our creativity and problem- solving ability. We need more time to simply reflect and let our intuition talk to us.
I tried many techniques to balance out work and life. Probably the longest lasting and most profound was learning to meditate. I learnt over 30 years ago and still mediate each day.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
In the past 12 months, I’ve focused on doing 10,000 steps a day, better quality sleep, planning fun activities.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I’ve always been a big consumer of news and analysis. I regularly buy non-fiction work related books. Right now, I’m focussing on understanding how COVID is changing society and business and what this all means for PR and Comms.
I’m enjoying reading quality journalism like the ABC, Guardian, Economist, AFR and Bloomberg.
I subscribe to many newsletters. One I recently started ready is Scott Galloway, thanks to a recommendation from my old BM colleague, Chris Savage. Galloway is an original thinker and really out there with his analysis and ideas.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Like most people I probably can’t live without my phone. I find it is a blessing and a curse. I remind myself that the iPhone in my pocket is more powerful than the computers that put humans on the moon.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Queens Elizabeth I and II. Both led their nations for decades through periods of great change with humility and grace.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I’m passionate about sharing what I’ve learnt in my career with young managers and emerging leaders to help them thrive and enjoy PR and comms in balance with a happy life.
The pandemic will be with us for a few years. The changed economic circumstances has added stress to many people. As an old hand with four economic downturns under my belt, I’d offer that the next few years will be a period of great change across society.
Those that can step back and see the bigger picture, innovate and flow with the change rather than fighting it will emerge stronger and more resilient.
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