Balancing the Grind With Chris Ingram, Director – Australia & New Zealand at Memphis Tourism

Chris Ingram is the Director – Australia & New Zealand at Memphis Tourism, the official marketing and tourism organisation for Memphis and Shelby County.

This conversation is sponsored by graphic design platform Canva. Empowering millions of people around the world to design.

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

Coming from the beautiful Cook Islands, it was inevitable that I would end up with a career in either tourism, food, dancing or music.

I can safely say I’ve done all of them having previously worked with Tourism Australia when we delivered the very successful “Restaurant Australia” campaign, and prior to that I worked with Cook Islands Tourism which is a destination that enjoys vibrant song and dance.

Now, I cover all of the above leading Memphis Tourism in Australasia with its brand of blues, soul & rock ‘n’ roll, and its international reputation for having the world’s best BBQ and soul food.

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

I’m a real stickler for being on time and so my work day is pretty precise. My role requires a lot of travel, so prior to the current restrictions, a fairly normal workday would look like:

  • 3.45am alarm + get up and get ready;
  • 4.45am I head to the airport and after checking in – usually for a flight to Sydney – I’ll try to get on top of emails;
  • 8.30am once I arrive in Sydney, I’ll usually drop my bags at a hotel before heading into back to back meetings. I always pause for lunch as this is usually my first meal of the day and so I make sure its something healthy and fulfilling; then its on to more meetings;
  • 4pm I set up for a trade show and presentation starting at 5.30pm;
  • 9.30pm the trade show wraps and I head to my hotel and its off to bed by 10.30-11pm.

My frequent trips to Memphis are very different of course, and luckily for me involve plenty of time enjoying what I honestly believe is one of the best cities in the world.

Needless to say, the days ahead are looking very different to this and my new day in the life is looking very different!

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

The very nature of what I do means that I have to make sure I have a lot of flexibility with my day – now moreso than ever. And prior to travel restrictions, much of my work was remote while on the road.

Being based in Auckland for most of the time means I have a better time window to talk with my US based clients first thing in the day, usually starting at around 6.30 – 7am.

After that then I’m usually communicating with my Australian clients, trade partners, and awesome PR team . Working with multiple time zones means the days can be long but the pay dirt is that I have an office that overlooks Kohimarama Beach in Auckland with a great café downstairs.

I usually leave the office at about 3pm to spend some time with my two young boys and start getting dinner on. Once that’s all done then it’s usually another hour or so of work from home, from about 7.30pm.

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

I don’t think I actually know what that is. My work takes me to Memphis frequently, so travel is part of my life – it’s often one and the same. Seriously though, I have a home in Rarotonga that enables me to balance things nicely every quarter.

I list it on Airbnb, so usually every 12 weeks I head to Rarotonga for a week to 10 days to check over the home and attend to anything outstanding there, but that time also enables me to get some downtime as well as connect with my sister and mother who live nearby.

The whole family also heads there every Xmas for 4 weeks to just get away from it all.

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?

Planning for the following week every Friday. I usually sit down at the café for an hour and just write down everything and anything that comes into my head, I then form a WIP list from that which allows me to hit the ground running on Monday morning. There’s nothing more rewarding in my work week than ticking off the jobs.

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

I’m not really one for reading self-help books, and the nature of my business means I’m busy doing a whole lot of stuff including changing the light bulbs, so I like reading books that help me escape from what I do.

I enjoy autobiographies and at the moment I have four of my favourite musicians books on the go, including:

  • Booker T. Jones’ Time Is Tight;
  • B.B. King’s Blues All Around Me;
  • Bruce Springsteen’s Born To Run; and
  • Jeff Tweedy – Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back)

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

A good night’s sleep and exercise.

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

Any of the aforementioned musicians because it soon makes me realize that my life is sweet by comparison to the chaotic lives that famed musicians often live.

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

Finding time to just be with yourself or meditate in some form. I’m not hugely religious but for me this can be going to my local church in Rarotonga on a Sunday. I enjoy the peace and serenity that the church offers, I enjoy the singing, and I enjoy the community of the occasion.

It also offers solitude to some extent as I can get lost in my thoughts and just appreciate that life isn’t bad, and that I’m very lucky to do something in life that I love.


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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.