Amanda Grainger is a Business Development Director at Kate & Co Publicity and Events, an independent public relations and creative ideas agency.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
After school I attended RMIT University and studied a Bachelor of Communications (Public Relations). During my studies I interned at various organisations, including what was then Foster’s Group Australia, and in the internal marketing team at Methodist Ladies College (MLC).
In my final semester at University I worked part time at MLC as their Communications Coordinator, but I knew my end goal was to move into agency.
Not long after I graduated, I was offered an Account Coordinator role at Undertow Media, when it was owned by Jane Martino and Amanda Graham. I spent six years learning the ropes of consumer agency life – everything from strategy development and media relations through to event management and production.
I’ve worked at various PR agencies during my career, landing at Kate & Co. 5 years ago as an Account Director. After taking a break to have my first daughter in 2016-17, I came back to Kate & Co. in a part-time capacity to focus on business development, which is key to my current Business Development Director role.
2) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
A typical workday for me is very varied – it ranges from meetings with prospective new clients, to reviewing briefs and tenders, developing strategies and proposals, developing client budgets and contracts, working with the Kate & Co. team on client brainstorms to come up with creative concepts, pitching for new business, proactively following up my network of contacts for new opportunities, attending team meetings and events.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes absolutely. I have recently returned to the Kate & Co. business after having my second daughter in late 2018. My role is currently part-time which allows me to juggle my work and family life, and I also work from home at times too.
My Director, Kate Keane, has been an incredible support and has made my return to work post maternity leave so smooth, which I know many new mum’s find tough. I’m very lucky.
Kate has created an environment of autonomy and trust at our agency, which not only breeds loyalty but gives our team flexibility and balance. We work hard but we’re certainly rewarded –regular team yoga, birthday leave, personal days, flexi summer hours and personal development opportunities, team days/activities etc.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
Organisation is key! I am very routine in all aspects of my life – from work to home. It’s not for everyone, but it works for me and keeps my stress levels in check.
As I’m part-time in the office, I have clear check lists of what I need to achieve each day to ensure I get through my workload and meet internal and external deadlines.
I also aim to check emails in the morning, lunch time and end of day only (it doesn’t always happen but I try!). Quite often I’m working through large proposals – so I try to minimise distractions. I’m also a fan of picking up the phone to a client or speaking to a colleague in person to save on yet another email! Especially when it’s something a quick conversation can sort out.
Lastly, I am very lucky to have a network of family support helping with my girls while I work – I can’t stress enough how important that is.
5) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
It’s a juggle! When I’m with my family I like to be present – I try hard not to be checking emails or taking work phone calls (which isn’t always possible, but it’s what I aim for). I make myself available to the team via text on my days off for anything urgent but do try to keep boundaries.
I feel most balanced when I’m equal parts working, having family time, catching up with friends, walking the dog (our Groodle Murphy) and fitting in some exercise/me time. That’s my goal. It doesn’t always play out that way, but it’s the aim.
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?
Again organisation – planning ahead, feeling prepared and having a clear idea of deadlines and how to meet them.
Also, being realistic with my expectations – it’s taken me a long time to learn it’s ok to say no.
My husband and I also compare calendars over the weekend to make sure we’re across each other’s movements for the week ahead. We also plan our menu for the week and do a big grocery shop on a Sunday so we’re sorted. Simple, but it takes the pressure off those manic mid-week evenings.
7) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?
An obvious one but Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F**k was a good read – I definitely took bits and pieces from his message, particularly the idea of not being able to care deeply about everything – you simply can’t spread yourself too thin or everything falls apart.
I don’t have a huge amount of time to read these days but I have a decent commute into the office at the moment so I’ve been listening to lots of podcasts – everything from The Daily and The Squiz for news to Shameless, Social Squad, Under the Skin with Russell Brand and How I Built This with Guy Raz.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Be present – whether it’s work, at home with family, time with my husband or catching up with friends.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Since my two stints of maternity leave, I’ve definitely got a new appreciation for my career and work – I love what I do and the company I work for. I truly see work as an extension of myself. It’s become ‘me time’ where I can be ‘Amanda’ (not ‘Mum’) and I look forward to my days in the office.
Being at work also makes me really appreciate the quality time I have when I am with my family. I like to think that’s a good balance – but I’m always working on it!
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