Balancing the Grind with Anna Wang, Investment Assistant at Mindshare

Anna Wang is an Investment Assistant at global media agency network Mindshare, where she works on media planning and buying for her clients.

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

My name is Anna. I currently work at Mindshare as an Investment Assistant. This role sees me engage in media planning and buying for our client. On top of this, I provide campaign reporting and manage important checks such as compliance and invoicing.

Last year I graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce (Liberal Studies), where I majored in Marketing and Economics. On top of my studies, I used my years at uni as a chance to give back to the community, to develop my skills and to understand where my passion lied.

This saw me mentor first-year students and lead a social enterprise at Enactus, a student-led entrepreneurial society called Culinary Tales. I was also fortunate to gain experience interning at the UN Women National Committee of Australia promoting the annual International Women Day.

I held various roles at the University of Sydney working on a market research project to assess and better the student experience. I also advised peers on their career-related enquiries as a Careers Leader.

While as an Ambassador, representing the Business School, I passed on my advice and experience to prospective and current students. From these experiences I realised, I am passionate about helping others and find ways to improve a brand’s offerings.

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

Our agency started working from home quite early, around mid to late March. Now, having worked from home for over 5 months I have become quite comfortable with WFH-ing and eventually, I found myself in more of a routine.

A typical workday sees me wake up at 8 am with work starting at 9 am. With this hour in-between I like to take my mornings slow, I have my breakfast, I put on a casual comfy outfit and before 9 comes around I jot down my to-do list for the day.

I use my first 30 minutes to check my emails and at 9:30 am we have our team WIP. In our WIPs we update each other on our tasks and priorities for the day and it’s also a chance for us to check-in on each other.

Afterwards, I do regular checks across our systems, one of which is called BMD, which houses our campaign’s TV and radio spot bookings as well as any changes to our booked spots. What I’m keeping an eye on is whether there have been any changes to these spots if so I would need to review them before they’re accepted.

As well as looking after offline I also oversee our client’s digital activity. This requires me to run digital reports across key metrics once done these are shared with the client along with insights and recommendations.

The above are tasks for campaigns currently live but I also need to see if any upcoming campaigns need to be set up. If I find that I don’t have all the information I require then I would liaise with the relevant stakeholders such as the client, the creative agency and the publishers to obtain such details.

With so many moving parts in media buying, my job very much requires me to manage stakeholder expectations thus ensuring our campaigns start on-time and perform against KPIs and the budget.

I also check if any campaigns have finished as after post-campaign reports are requested from the publishers. From there, our team will then build our PCR which would then be presented to the client, where learnings from past campaigns are applied to the planning of upcoming campaigns.

In saying all of this, there can be some days where I am stepping up and helping my team with more urgent matters while on others I’m engaging in training, publisher updates, meetings, it varies!

The responsibilities I have can be quite broad but I wouldn’t want it any other way, the fact that every day is different makes it exciting and it means I’m always learning something new.

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

Yes, since March my role has seen myself and my colleagues continue to work flexibly from home. However, since August a few office spaces have opened which are accessible for employees to book in a desk, having this as an option is great but I have yet to take this up.

Casting my mind back 6 months, I remember the transition of working from home was a bit of an adjustment. It took me a few weeks to get the hang of and to come to like this change. But as the weeks went on, I became more comfortable getting into a bit of a work rhythm.

I realised and started to embrace the fact that no real barriers were stopping me from doing my job, I mean I could easily seek or offer help to my team as they were only a type on the keyboard away.

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

A quote I have heard a lot of is that you should be working smarter not longer and with the current situation I don’t think this has ever rung truer. The temptation to start the workday earlier, to clock off a little later, to just quickly check your email or knock-off that task after hours, is real.

I know this because sometimes that’s what I find myself doing. I think having this happen occasionally is okay as the demands of our work are never stable but it fluctuates. However, we have to be careful to not have the above become a norm, it’s not healthy and it may affect our wellbeing and take a toll on the other aspects of our life.

For me to have and maintain work-life balance, I need to hold myself accountable to my work hours of 9-5:30 pm and ensure that throughout this I’m looking to work smart rather than getting up caught in the grind of ‘just doing’ and ‘getting through the work’.

Already this mindset has brought me a more balanced lifestyle where I have the time for myself and for what I find important & enjoyable outside of work.

However, in all honesty, this has been hard to maintain as I also want to learn as much as I can. So, I think achieving the whole work-life balance should be taken with a grain of salt. We need to be easier on ourselves to understand sometimes not everything goes to plan.

From understanding, I sometimes can’t do it all has turned out for the better as I rely more on my abilities to prioritise, be adaptive and ultimately work smarter.

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

A habit I’ve been working towards has been to incorporate physical movement/ exercise daily. With many of us still working from home and being stationary hermits for up to 35 hours a week, this is so important.

To move my body, I’ve been going for walks around my local park during lunch and in the afternoon I do an hour of work standing up. I’ve also been getting into working out at home doing 20-minute workout sessions found on the trusty YouTube.

Getting my heart pumping and my muscles moving helps to clear my mind where I am taking both a physical and mental break from work.

I’ve been keeping to a regular sleeping schedule, going to bed and waking up each day around the same time and ensuring I’m getting 7 hours of sleep at the very least. I find this does make a difference to my mood the next day.

A good night’s sleep means I can bring my best and full self at the start of day one where I start it off with the mantra that I can take on anything that comes my way.

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

I’ve only just gotten back into podcasts as I have realised being able to listen to someone chat on a topic you’re interested can be quite comforting especially as our social interactions may be limited.

No matter who you are, you are bound to find something you like and they are so accessible all at your fingerprints across Spotify, Apple, YouTube, SoundCloud.

As for books, l have been reading autobiographies written by those who started the big brands we know so well today. Think Nike and Disney.

From the stories and the reflections, these founders have shared there are always valuable lessons I can take away and who doesn’t want to read into how these people, who seem like an everyday person, built the companies that are so renowned today.

To get you started I recommend the Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and The Ride of a Lifetime by Robert Iger.

I’m also subscribed to Concrete Playground, and The Urban List, they do content along the lines of a cultural guide all accessible online. If you also live in a capital city I highly recommend you sign up too.

Their weekly newsletters are a good way for me to find out what’s happening in my local city and, you’re bound to find some inspiration on what you can get up to over the weekend whether it’s supporting a local business, or taking part in a fun at-home activity there’s always something.

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

I can’t go without Spotify, to get my mood up and in the zone for certain tasks I sometimes play music while working. Since working from home I’ve also taken more of an interest in home décor and the setup of my bedroom and living space, to ensure that my space is warm and inviting, and feels like me.

I think this makes a difference especially as we are spending so much at home, having a place I’m happy with internally makes me happy.

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

This is a hard one, I think everyone has something wise and insightful to contribute to the work-life balance. If I had to pick I would say, Michelle Obama.

Michelle has shown women across the globe just what it means to use power for good and in doing so she is both humble and honest and I would love to know how she balances all of this, her work and her life.

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

Some last thoughts for readers would be for you to understand that work, life and the balance of the two are never a constant. That is, no matter how long you have been in your role, or in which environment you’re working in, work-life balance is something you need to consciously work on.

Work on it by taking some time to define what work-life balance means to you and what the ideal work-life balance day looks like for you. Once you have set yourself some goals centred around work-life balance and share this with the people around you, with your family, friends, colleagues or your team and manager.

This will not only keep you accountable, but it means you can get the support from your network to help keep you on track of having a steady balance of work and play.

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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.