Balance the Grind spoke to Carolyn about a day in her life managing marketing for three brands, working shorter hours, the myth of multi-tasking, and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
I have no marketing degree, but was fortunate enough to interview with the CEO of Aquent in APAC 17 years ago who saw potential and took a chance on me.
Since then, I’ve worked as a marketer for global recruitment brands Firebrand, Aquent and Vitamin T and am broad-skilled, digitally fluent, with extensive experience in the strategy, planning and tactical execution of successful digital marketing campaigns across multiple geographic regions.
My passion lies in digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing and brand development and strategy.
Prior to my marketing career, I studied graphic design and also taught computer graphics for some years.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
I’m the Australian Marketing Director for three recruitment brands, Firebrand, Aquent and Vitamin T — all owned by Aquent which is headquartered in Boston.
Because there are only two of us on my team in Australia, I’m pretty much involved in all things marketing — whether strategic or execution.
This can include digital marketing, content marketing, social media marketing, event marketing, brand development, email marketing, copywriting, design, training and more.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I work from 8.45am to 4pm from Mondays to Fridays as I am a mum and I need to leave early in order to pick up my daughter and take her to various after school activities.
After going through my emails, flagging the important stuff and writing a list of tasks for the day, the first thing I do is to check through any online notifications on all our brand social platforms and well as my own social accounts and respond to any comments.
Then I’ll allocate any leads that have come in overnight to our teams in Sydney and Melbourne.
After this, I’ll check the marketing schedule to see what emails and blog posts are being published that day so that I can support or promote them online.
I’ll check the results of any Facebook ads, including looking at the conversion rate in case I need to make any tweaks to the ads.
If we have any events to organise (which is often), I’ll check in with my colleague Anneke to see if we’re on track and offer support where necessary.
I’ll add more content (owned and curated) to our employee advocacy platform Bambu so that our teams have valuable and relevant content that they can share with their connections.
I’ll also schedule some content (curated and owned) on our various social channels.
We’re currently surveying professionals on about future transformation of the digital workforce which we’ll be turning into a printed report that we can deliver to our clients. This will help them with their hiring strategy for their future workforce.
So I’ll check in on survey numbers, promote it on various channels and also look at the planning schedule to see what needs to be implemented next.
Later on I may write some email copy, research some subject lines and look at some analytics on how previous, similar campaigns have performed.
And I’ll spend some time updating the copy on our three websites which reflect the “brand on the outside” work we’ve collectively done to better define who we are, what we do, how we do it, and importantly why we do it (our purpose).
Every day is different and there’s a lot of variety in my role. What’s really important is that I really put my head down and focus whilst I’m at work because my hours are shorter than most and I like to be really productive.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?
I go through my emails whilst I’m on the ferry, so that by the time I get to work, I can hit the ground running. I also use a task management tool called ScribblePost which allows me to manage (and remember) my tasks on the fly.
I also schedule meetings to not finish on the hour or half hour in my calendar preferences so that I can have 10 mins in between meetings to catch up on anything I missed.
For example, a one hour meeting is instead scheduled for 50 minutes. A half hour meeting is 20 minutes instead.
I also try and have as few meetings as possible, and if there’s nothing on the agenda for a regular meeting, I’ll cancel it.
5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?
My shorter hours (leaving work at 4pm) really helps me find some sort of balance.
Having said that, I hardly have time to myself because by the time I get home after finishing the schlepping around for after school activities, I still cook, prepare school lunch for the next day, look after the dog, help my daughter with homework etc.
My one discipline is that I go to bed early with a good book. I always ensure that I get eight hours sleep which means that come 6am when my alarm goes off, I feel energetic and bounce out of bed, ready to tackle the next day.
6) What does work life balance mean to you?
I means that I have a life outside of work and have plenty of ‘me’ time. To be honest, I’m still working on it.
Though I still find time to play in a netball comp, walk the dog, and read a great book. I also play a mean game of table tennis when I can squeeze that in.
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?
I think that the ability to set realistic expectations on deliverables at work is really important which means it’s okay to say ‘no’ if you feel you can’t deliver on an outcome when someone wants it.
I’ve also learnt to be generous with my time and knowledge. It comes back to me in bounds over time.
8) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
At the end of each day, I review what I need to do the next day so that I can hit the ground running.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Successful multi-tasking is a myth and the least efficient way to get things done. Focus on one thing at a time and you’ll do a far better job.