Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind with Ayla Fitzgibbon, Account Director at Red Havas

Ayla Fitzgibbon is an Account Director at public relations agency Red Havas, where she specialises in technology (B2B, B2C), business, and whisky PR.

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

It all started when I was studying a Bachelor of Communications, majoring in public relations and sub-majoring in performance. I wanted to begin my career as soon as I graduated and commenced working at a small technology agency. 

In 2016, I made the move to Red Havas (then Red Agency) to help bring to life our Technology and Business Practice and have had the privilege to work with inspiring individuals on accounts such as Amazon Web Services, Palo Alto Networks, Vivid Sydney and Nikon.

Over the past four years I’ve progressed through the agency and am currently an Account Director specialising in technology (B2B, B2C), business – and whisky PR. 

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

As the saying goes, no two days are the same, and it has become more apparent since the beginning of the pandemic. I begin my day with a morning meditation followed by a nourishing breakfast.

My team has moved to a working from home format which kicks off with a daily morning call to discuss highlights from the past 24 hours, to training and introduction of new initiatives.

Just last week we introduced Havas Hustle, an initiative to offer free advice and support across the complete spectrum of capabilities within Havas to those who have been impacted by the pandemic. 

My days are spent in meetings with my team and clients via virtual calls. I reserve space in my calendar to complete larger tasks and review items. These days it can be anything from developing brand strategies, to liaising with media, to programming chatbots and organising virtual events.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve be mindful to take a break from my desk by having lunch outside and taking a walk around the neighbourhood. 

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

My current role allows me to have flexible and remote working arrangements, however since the pandemic I’ve been working permanently from home for the last three months. This has added an additional three hours into my day not having to travel into the city. 

With greater flexibility around my working day, I am able to attend to my wellbeing and relationships. With contacts all across the world, I’ve been able to shift from the quick text to video calls and really spend time being present with what is happening around the world.

I’ve also been able to commit to additional training and development sessions with work and through workshops provided by companies like Business Chicks.

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

I’ve always been passionate about my career, agency and clients, but it is important to understand what your limits are, how to refill your tank and what can wait until tomorrow.

We are more connected than ever before, so sometimes it means switching off all devices and burying them in the backyard. 

In all seriousness, I’m very protective of my down time these days, but I’ve had to learn over the years that no one but me will be able to create a “balance” in my life. This time if for spending moments with family and friends and eating a lot of delicious food.  

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

I always come back to the basics: movement, nourishing food, sleep, meditation and surrounding yourself with supportive individuals. 

Without these magical five I probably wouldn’t be able to function or deliver the bants to the team on a daily basis. 

I’m strong believer that no business is successful without investing in their people. It is important to take time out of your day, to check in on your team and have an empathic ear, which I’ve developed over the years.

I would also recommend finding an organisation method such as daily to do lists, and expanding your knowledge through new methods. I listen to a number of podcasts to expand my mind on a variety of topics. You never know when a random fact will become more helpful than in a game of trivia.

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

I’m currently reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and taking a dive into creative living beyond fear. 

At the moment by top four podcasts are Unlocking Us with Brené Brown, The Tim Ferriss Show, Hamish and Andy and Almost 30.  

And the newsletters that get me through the week include Girls Night In, Big Spaceship’s Internet Brunch and Words of Women. 

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Look at any situation as an opportunity for growth. No matter if it is something you are comfortable with or a little bit challenging, take it in your stride and be kind to those involved.

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

To be honest, I love hearing about anyone’s tips and tricks. Just recently I heard an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert (big fan at the moment), discussing how she categorises her research with index cards for her books. Old school, but the idea of having a physical filing system of information excites me.

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

There is always tomorrow, but there is only one today.

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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.