HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind With Emily Vaughan, Group Talent Partner at WPP AUNZ

Emily Vaughan is the Group Talent Partner at WPP AUNZ, a role where she manages recruitment for the advertising cluster – Ogilvy, VMLY&R, Wunderman Thompson and WhiteGREY agencies.

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

I originally started my career out in marketing. After graduating I joined a small marketing/advertising agency in Newcastle where I’m from, and after and then moved to Sydney to work client side at several start-ups.

After almost 5 years I moved into recruitment within the marketing & advertising world. I first started my recruitment career at recruitment agencies and have recently joined the WPP AUNZ network in my first internal role as advertising Group Talent Partner. So in one way I’ve gone full circle.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I’m Group Talent Partner at WPP AUNZ and look after recruitment for the advertising cluster – Ogilvy, VMLY&R, Wunderman Thompson and WhiteGREY agencies.

I find people from all over the globe at all levels. So whether that be an Account Manager or a Creative Director for example, we bring them to the table. It’s a great role!

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

  • Forever being on the phone!
  • Meeting candidates
  • Taking briefs from hiring managers
  • Reaching out to potential talent on LinkedIn
  • Screening CVs
  • Calling candidates
  • Positing job ads
  • Meetings, lots of meetings
  • Running between each agency
  • Booking in interviews
  • Providing feedback to candidates or hiring managers
  • Coaching candidates through the interview process
  • Negotiating salaries
  • Giving exciting news of a job offer to candidates
  • Conducting reference checks
  • Issuing employment contracts

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

Two things I stick by – write lists and add it to the calendar.

I write a list every night before I leave the office and then update it again in the morning if anything else has popped up overnight. I’ll most likely add to it during the day, but I can continue to cross things off as I go.

I always put the top three things I have to get done at the top to ensure it’s done before I leave. If anything’s left over I just add it to the top of the list I make for the next day. There’s nothing more satisfying then crossing everything off before you leave!

Second thing is take advantage of your calendar. Any time I have a call, meeting or even a simple reminder I add it to my calendar with a notification to remind me. I’ve learnt the hard way that you can’t remember everything, even if you’re convinced you will. Trust me when the day gets under way you’ll miss it.

Another trick I do is colour code everything. For me it’s internal meetings, candidate meetings, a candidate meeting a hiring manager, a screening call, admin tasks and personal. I do this so at the start of my day I can quickly glance what’s in there and know what’s happening. If I’ve got 4 candidate interviews with hiring managers I know I have to get feedback by the end of the 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?

Exercise – I exercise in the mornings before work, one because I know it won’t happen otherwise, and two because it keeps me going longer during the day.

Avoid late emailing – I try my best at not emailing once I’m home and definitely have my moments where I get caught up. But once I’m in the door unless I know there’s something going on at work, I chuck my phone into my room until after dinner.

I do this to switch off, catch up with my partner and hug my dog. Sometimes I’ll forget about my phone until bed or if I know I need to check it, I’ll check it once dinner is done. If you set the standard on when you reply to emails etc, it’s the norm for whoever you work with and they won’t expect any different.

Spend time with your family – I need to do this to keep me sane. Even if it’s just for an hour after work before heading off to do something or knowing you’ve got to finish off a last minute email or project, this will make a difference.

A hug, smile or just a laugh makes you feel calm. If you’ve had a crappy day and you might normally fire back on an email that’s bugged you, wait an hour until you’re home and see if you want to write the same email. In my experience, you usually don’t.

Turn off notifications – I also turn email notifications off on the weekend so I can’t see what’s happening unless I go into the app. It’s amazing how much more tempted you are to “quickly write back” when you see the notification pop up.

Leave laptop at work – I also aim to leave my laptop at work (when I’m at the same agency the next day). I’ve set myself up at home so if something urgent happens I can jump on the computer in our office and have everything ready to go.

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

I go to the gym each morning before work. That was a struggle go get into a morning routine, but it’s definitely made a difference in my performance at work. It helps me wake up and I feel good going through the day knowing I can go home and chill out in the evenings.

A massage, I’m a sucker for a massage. Any time I feel stressed or overwhelmed or want to wind down, I’ll go for 30-60 minutes. A great way to not look at your phone as well! It’s a game changer for me each time.

On the weekends I try to avoid my phone at all costs. I’m on it all week, I actually couldn’t do my job without it so when I can, for example heading to the park with my partner and dog, I’ll leave it at home. Fresh air, no phone, dogs and company. My favourite past time! For all dog lovers, I highly recommend.

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?

Prioritising, to-do lists and putting everything in the calendar.

Also speak to people in person. It’s as simple as walking to someone’s desk and ask them what you need instead of emailing. Don’t wait around for the response if you can avoid it. The majority of time it’s something you can tick off your to-do list as soon as you’ve spoken with them. Plus you’ll usually find out more, or have a laugh!

Another handy tip is set yourself a time you need to head home. For me if I know I need to leave by six for example, I’m always amazed at what I get done when I know I’ve got a deadline.

8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

I’m a sucker for fiction books so not that I can think of. I’m much more into articles on this topic. I did read once that “you shouldn’t reply to an email until you’ve eaten breakfast. How can you help someone properly if you haven’t helped yourself yet” I think it’s a valid point and always think of it if I go to respond to an email when I wake up. It’s stuck with me for years.

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

Ensure you leave the office at some point during the day. Whether that’s for a proper lunch break, some fresh air or to make a call. Get out, see the sun, take in fresh air and breath.

The days I forget this are never as productive and I end up feeling flustered or exhausted. It’s amazing what stepping away from your desk can do.

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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.