Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind With Kristen Mahler, Senior Manager Strategic Marketing at Australia Post

Kristen Mahler is the Senior Manager Strategic Marketing at Australia Post where she manages the company’s consumer segments. Additionally Kristen is also a landscape designer, focused on turning people’s outdoor areas into yoga and meditation gardens.

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

Currently I’m a Senior Strategy Marketing Manager at Australia Post looking after our consumer segments specifically. My job is pretty cool, it allows me to be quite creative with analytical data and market trends. I look at the postal trends within Australia and the world and work out a strategic direction forward for Australia Post products and offerings.

I’ve had a varied marketing career in a number of different industries. I started at Coles in FMCG, moved to agency side at DDB, had a stint at Swisse Wellness and landed at my current role at Australia Post.

Having experience in a variety of different industries has been an excellent career move as it allowed me to gain experience fast and embrace change, which is inevitable in business.

I’m also a Landscape Designer having recently had a garden in Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show. Having two careers is a challenge but it keeps me inspired and motivated all day, every day.

My business Kristen Mahler Design is particularly focused on yoga and meditation gardens turning people’s outdoor areas into a usable space they can’t wait to get out to. I generally spend my weekends focused on Landscape Design.

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

6.15am – I wake up and go to Pilates or yoga, depending on the day.

7.30am – Come home take my little pup for a walk around the block. The walk should take 5 minutes, but she literally sniffs everything so takes me about 15 mins.

8am – Get my chia pudding and green juice out of the fridge, feed the dog and walk to work. I always make my breakfast the night before so I get more time in the morning.

8.30am – Arrive at work, make myself a green tea and have breakfast. Have a little chat and get stuck into the day.

9am – 12pm – I have meetings or I’ll have time blocked out so I can do some work. My job requires a lot of writing and brainstorming so I’ll either lock myself away or plug in and listen to music.

12pm – lunch time! I always make my lunch and when I have time for a break, I’ll either eat with friends or head out for a walk around Fitzroy gardens. I sometimes take a seat in the gardens and meditate for 15mins, one of my favourite things to do.

1 – 5.30pm – Meetings / work.

5.30pm – Walk home.

6pm – take the dog for a walk, this time she gets a longer walk and then gets her dinner.

6.30pm – I have a couple of units to go with my Landscape Design study, so half of the week I’m in class at night, the other half I’ll cook dinner and relax with my partner, Nick.

9pm – Meditate for 20 mins before bed.

10pm – Bed time. I’ll read a bit before bed but I’ll usually be asleep by 10. I love my sleep.

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

I’ll always work from home once a week. I find I get so much done when I do. My current manager is incredible and is a great believer of flexible working and allows her whole team to work remotely if we like. This is really important to me. It demonstrates the faith that she has in us.

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

Always have time for yourself. It can be hard to fit everything in but I’m really strict that I set 20 – 30 mins aside each day to meditate. This is my form of ‘me time’. For other people it might be drawing, painting, cooking etc.

Practice saying no. This is a really important one that a lot of people can struggle with, including me. We don’t need to do everything and be everywhere. Sometimes, the most rewarding and important thing to do is to just say no.

I try to say no to something every day to ensure I’m not overloading myself. It might be something as small as ‘no, I’m not going to the supermarket, I have enough food at home to cook something.’

Have a hobby. Work can be challenging and in the past I’ve found that I’m thinking about it 24/7, even dreaming it. Having a hobby breaks things up a bit so that when you’re thinking about work you’re efficient and effective. If you’re thinking about work all the time you can go in circles and get nothing done.

I don’t think shortcuts exist. Sometimes you just have to ride things out to get to where you want to go.

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

Work life balance is everything to me. I’ve experienced a large part of my career with the balance tipped towards my job and I’ll never do that again. I love my career and my job, however I thrive when my mind and body is healthy and I can’t do this if I’m spending all of my time working.

My experience at Australia Post, particularly with my current manager Megan, has been really positive in that she encourages us to have an even balance as much as we can. Obviously sometimes it will tip either way but as long as you’re aware, you can shift it back.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

Meditation. A daily practice of 20mins (more if I have time). A healthy mind is everything.

Exercise. I prefer low intensity to keep me more grounded. Yoga, Pilates, walking, skiing etc.

Drawing. This is something I’ve recently started doing again since getting into Landscape Design. I can spend hours drawing getting lost in the pen and paper.

Mentors. Having strong mentors around you and people you can talk to is invaluable. I have some incredible people that I confide in who offer me invaluable wisdom from their experiences. They don’t have to be in the same industry as you. One of my mentors is a CIO and she is just a kick ass human.

A strong partner. I’m lucky enough to have an incredibly supportive partner who without him I wouldn’t be who I am today. We push each other and support each other which is so important.

Look after yourself. Life is too short to not look after yourself. Eat well, sleep lots, exercise and hang out with friends/loved ones.

Goals. I know this one is always used but it’s so important. I have yearly and 5 year goals I set myself which allows me to have something to strive to.

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

I’m not a big non-fiction reader and find I actually don’t learn much from reading about other peoples experiences. I’ve learned from great leaders and people that I’ve worked with and I’m fortunate enough in my career that I’ve had a few.

A few books that did inspire me are: Becoming by Michelle Obama, Women Work and the Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guiliano, also an old manager Sarah Bailey has written three books, The Dark Lake trilogy, which I absolutely love. I find reading these the most inspiring of all.

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

Remembering to slow down and be present.

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

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to ‘succeed’ but it’s important that we all take a good look at how we define what success looks like. It might be that you want power, money, fame, but what about happiness, family, creativity.

Work out what your version of success is and contemplate whether this is really what you want. Then work backwards from there. Finally, take time to breath and reflect. Don’t let life pass you by. You work hard, so enjoy it!

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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.