Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind With Ishtar Schneider, Account Director (Health) at Edelman London

Ishtar Schneider is the Account Director (Health) at Edelman London.

With over a decade’s worth of experience working in the PR industry, Ishtar’s clients and projects have been recognised at the state and national levels by leading industry bodies including the Public Relations Institute of Australia’s annual Golden Target Awards, The Holmes Report SABRE Asia-Pacific Awards and Mumbrella’s CommCon Awards.

Balance the Grind spoke to Ishtar about her PR career spanning San Francisco, Sydney and London, her current role at Edelman, ‘work-life sway,’ being a member of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and more.

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

Well, when we first connected I think I had just landed in Sydney. I am originally from the US and did my undergrad studies in communications in San Francisco.

During my final year I did a study/work program in Sydney, Australia and was lucky enough to join the Edelman team as an intern. I really fell in love with Australia and the PR industry there and made the decision to pack up and move there permanently after graduation.

I spent the next 6 years at one of Australia’s leading healthcare PR agencies – Palin Communications – working on clients spanning pharmaceutical companies like AbbVie, Amgen, GSK and BMS, consumer health and well being clients, natural therapies, health charities and pet health organisations.

I loved every minute of it but the work was mostly focused on Asia-Pacific so I made the decision to move to London – to work on global health projects at Edelman in May last year.

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

I’m an Account Director in the Health team here and I help drive the communications strategy for a number of amazing global clients like Johnson & Johnson Global Public Health and Mars Petcare.

Day-to-day I lead split-country teams to support on the development of creative campaigns, event management, content development, media relations and social amplification.

We really are a fully integrated agency so it’s been amazing to be able to work side by side with our in-house creative, planning, digital and influencer teams to deliver campaigns that really move the needle – delivering business and communications success.

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

As you know, there isn’t really a “typical” day in the life of an agency PR person – that’s one of the things I love about our industry, it always keeps me on my toes!

My days usually start with a podcast on the commute into the office – I’ve been loving some Radiolab ones and The Dropout about the rise and fall of the Theranos CEO Elizabeth Holmes.

Then it really depends on what campaigns we have on at the minute – I might be:

  • working with my team to sell in a story about research into the benefits of horseback riding therapy for children with autism
  • working on a creative approach to drive increased awareness and action on diseases like tuberculosis
  • showcasing healthcare innovation in Africa.

I’m also involved in the Edelman diversity and inclusion (D&I) task force – about 25 different representatives from across the London office – who are helping drive forward our initiatives that aim to make our agency more open and inclusive for people from all walks of life.

We have some great initiatives in place and it’s been really inspiring to see leadership “walk the walk” – I was incredibly impressed to see one of my colleagues receive a promotion while on maternity leave.

My team is about 50 people so it’s a really fun, collaborative environment to be a part of. My afternoons are usually the best time to regroup with my US-based teams and clients – so I’m usually on a number of Skype calls keeping things moving.

4) In between everything you do and all your responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

I don’t like the term work-life balance, I prefer “work-life sway” because you’re never going to be exactly in balance – there are times when your focus will be more on work and you have to put in the extra time and there’s times when your personal life might have more of your attention – and that’s ok.

We actually did the DISC personality training recently and it identified the one of my “stressors” is actually having to slow my pace.

But I do find that I need to be “busy” with activities outside of my 9 to 5 in order to feel like my “sway” is in a good place.

I’m a member of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) Health Group and 2019 PRCA Council and really enjoy being able to give back to the industry by supporting professional development and networking opportunities for people working in communications.

Being away from family I also find it important to ensure you take the time to stay connected – much easier in this era of FaceTime and IG stories.

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

I try and make time to get to the gym after work 3-4 times a week and really notice a difference in my health – both mental and physical – when I let it slide.

I also love to read, there’s something so nice about taking an afternoon to dive into a hard copy book with a glass of wine. I also love to cook – I find it so therapeutic. My mom is from Taipei and an amazing cook so I like to think her culinary inclinations were passed to me.

6) Are there any gadgets, tools or products can’t you live without?

As a busy comms person, my phone is absolutely essential – I love following trending news stories on Twitter, and of course keeping in touch with my friends and family who are spread across the US, Australia, Europe and Asia.

We recently supported the first-ever Social Isolation and Companion Animal Summit – and I found out that research shows loneliness can be as detrimental to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day (and as much a health concern as obesity)- so I really do make an effort to stay connected with my friends and loved ones.

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

I’m a list person – I make a new one at the start and end of every day and it really helps organise my time and priorities. I also make sure to have breakfast – being “hangry” is a real thing!

If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us!

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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.