HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Alex Delehunt, People & Culture Business Partner at Publicis Groupe

Alex Delehunt is the People & Culture Business Partner at Publicis Groupe, a global technology, marketing and communications agency, where she leads the people function for the agencies Performics and Digitas.

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

I’ve been working in the HR & People space for over 7 years now. I’ve predominately spent this in the Publicis Groupe – a global technology, marketing and communications agency.

I’ve been with the Groupe for over 5 years and have worked across most of the media agencies in various People and Culture roles. My current role is as People and Culture Business Partner and I lead the people function for the agencies Performics and Digitas.

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

I think any HR person will tell you, no one day ever looks the same! I start my day with either a book or podcast on the train to the office.

Once in, I’ll make a green tea and run through my emails, marking anything urgent and then cracking onto my to do list that I set the day before. It might be tasks like reviewing the people structure on a new business win, some project work on our Internship program or meeting with the leadership team for our weekly catch up.

I’ll then head to the gym for a lunchtime workout, quickly eat my lunch at my desk and then I might be running a training session in the afternoon or more project work.

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

This is one of the best things about working at Publicis Groupe, we have a whole approach to work that is based around flexibility. It’s all about working your way, with the company.

For me, this means that I work one day a week from home and that day might vary. I also try to head to the gym most lunchtimes when in the office which might mean I take a slightly longer lunch break.

For other people; they might do different hours or we have people who work remotely permanent. We’re all individuals so it makes sense not to have a one size fits all policy. Instead we have six behaviours that underpin our approach and the most important I believe is ‘Trust One Another’.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Setting my to do list the day before is a game changer. I pick out 2-3 keys things I need to get done the day before and ensure these are my priorities.

It ensures I get done what is more important and not just what is popping up in my inbox. I also find my day from home so important. I’ll try and schedule work that needs minimal interruptions like reporting for this day so I can focus and smash it out.

I also find that making time for things that are my non-negotiables helps balance my life. I live over an hour from the office so having my gym time as a meeting in the diary 3 times per week during the day has helped me stick to this and I find I am much more productive on these days I can get my workout in.

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

I like to call it simply life balance. Work is such an important aspect of our lives but not the only one so for me it’s about sticking to my calendar.

I leave the office around 5,5.30pm most days so I can ensure I get some quality time in with my boyfriend when we’re home or plan a dinner with my friends. It helps that I have quite a long commute so I really need to get out the door on time otherwise the train trip can take double the time!

As mentioned, squeezing workouts in during lunch is important to for me to feel healthy and fit.

A book or a podcast on the way home really helps to debrief from the day and I can make it home in a totally different headspace to which I might have left work in.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Be organised! People think I’m a creature of habit (which may or may not be true) but getting meals prepped on a Sunday, to do lists done, spreadsheets created for EVERYTHING really helps me to maximise my time so I can spend a Saturday at the beach without having that nagging sense I’m forgetting to do something or eating unhealthily because of time pressures.

7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Books are my guilty pleasure so I couldn’t name just one. They are my relaxation method and I’ll get through about 3-4 books per month. I’m also in a book club which pushes me to read things outside of my usual genres (and the wine and cheese is pretty great too).

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

The to do list. Whether you’re old school like me with a notepad or have a Trello board, having 2-3 realistic things set for the new day and crossing these off by the end of it will having you feeling like you’ve actually achieved something. I think reflection on what you’ve achieved is key.

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

Find what works best for you. Try different methods to get yourself organised and try and stick with it. Also for those who aren’t as lucky as I am to have a super flexible workplace, don’t be afraid to ask the question around what flex they can offer you. Modern tech makes flex so easy that its hard for people to have reasons not to work flexibly!

If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

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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.