Andrea Hoymann is the Marketing Director at Sinorbis, a software company providing Western businesses with the world’s first integrated marketing platform to create, measure and optimise their Chinese digital presence.
Balance the Grind spoke to Andrea about her journalism background, working for a Chinese-focused startup, typical day in the life of a Marketing Director, saying no to distractions and more.
This conversation is brought to you by Teachable, a powerful yet simple all-in-one platform to create and sell beautiful online courses.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I was born and educated in Germany and came to Sydney for the first time for a study abroad year. I met my partner during that time and the rest – as they say – is history.
I have always loved writing and reading, so it’s probably no surprise that I started my career in journalism. When I moved to Australia permanently, I initially got a job as a conference producer and was looking for better ways to promote our events.
There was a lot of talk about content marketing in the industry publications (it was only emerging as a marketing approach at the time) and I saw an opportunity to combine my writing skills with my new role.
Ever since, I have worked in several content marketing and strategy roles before joining Sinorbis.
2) What does your current role at Sinorbis entail on a day to day basis?
I am the Marketing Director at Sinorbis, a digital marketing platform that connects western businesses with Chinese demand. The software start-up was founded in Sydney in 2016 and I joined the company in 2017.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
One of the great (but also challenging) things about working in a start-up is that no day is the same and you never know what curve ball might be thrown in your direction.
On a typical day, I might be working on our acquisition plan, research new market opportunities, meet with the sales team to check-in on our current pipeline and be quite hands on with running our digital campaigns.
Recently, I worked on the plan for an upcoming systems integrations project that will help us scale the business, met with our digital marketing executive to work on campaign optimisation, edited a blog post and presented to a group of students on the opportunities in the Chinese digital market – all within a single day.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?
I try to plan my schedule to make sure big projects keep moving forward. Otherwise, it can be very easy in a start-up to get completely swept up in a never-ending stream of urgent tasks and lose sight of the important things that will help the business reach the next stage.
At the beginning of the week, I take 30 minutes to make a list of 2-3 bigger tasks which require sustained focus that I want to accomplish by Friday and block out some time to do them.
Some weeks can be more challenging than others if we are participating an event and have a lot of meetings scheduled, but I try to keep at least one day a week meeting free to work on the top priority items.
On days when the to-do list seems particularly overwhelming, I pick whatever is the most important at that point, close down everything else on the computer and work on it until it’s completed or can be moved on to the next person.
I also try to shut down my email and Slack for periods of time during the day as it’s too easy to be distracted by these things.
Going for a walk around the block can also help a lot with clarifying your priorities. If you sit in front of your to-do list everything can seem kind of urgent.
Admittedly, I’m far from perfect when it comes to prioritisation and there are days when all my good intentions go completely out the window.
But I guess that’s part of the balancing act as well – often you just got to deal with whatever comes your way and start over again the next day.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
To really find balance in life, it’s important to know what you enjoy doing and learn to say no to all the distractions that keep you from doing these things. I also try not to commit to things too far in advance.
It seems that the longer I plan catch-ups and social engagements in advance, the less I feel like it when they come around. Life is usually the most enjoyable when there’s enough room for spontaneity and my ideal weekend is a blank slate without any fixed appointments.
6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
Given that most of my work week is spent hunched over a computer, I try to get out as much as possible on the weekends. Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking – it doesn’t really matter which one it is as long as it involves movements and the outdoors.
Reading a good old-fashioned analogue book also helps me to relax.
7) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?
Exercising before I do anything else. I am much happier and productive when I move in the morning, but I really had to work on that habit as I am not naturally an early riser.
The problem with working out at lunch or in the afternoon is that it’s way to easy to let work priorities and other commitments get in the way and before I know it, I have gone a whole week without doing anything for my own health and well being.
As with the work priorities, it’s not always possible to stick to the exercise routine but then it’s not about achieving some sort of ideal. I just try to put in a consistent effort.
8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?
I found the Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin helpful because it covers all aspects that ultimately add up to a happy life.
My favourite quote from it is “The days are long, but the weeks are short.”
If you live day-to-day just focusing on the urgent, the important things have a tendency to slip away from you and before you know it another year has passed without noticing.