Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind With Quila Cervelli, Branding Manager at RMIT University

Quila Cervelli is the Branding Manager at RMIT University. A New York City – native, Quila relocated to Melbourne five years ago and has since furthered her career at RMIT focusing on Employer Branding.

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

I’m a New York City native, living in Melbourne. My career started at Xerox as a college intern, which turned into full time employment on their sales team after graduation.

My sales territory bounced from law firms to hotels- giving me a view into how varies large businesses can be in terms of their needs.

A friend of mine was recruiting for a tech company, LivePerson – and let me know they had a sales role open. I applied, not thinking I was ready to make the leap, but I was absolutely floored by their culture.

I didn’t know a place like this could exist: people loved what they did and they brought their whole selves to work. It’s in this role that I started to learn more about myself and what my cultural expectations were from an employer.

With a few years of success on their sales team, I was tapped on the shoulder to build an online community to manage 5,000 small business customers. I think that’s where I fell in love with community management and marketing – speaking to the right people, at the right time in the right place.

This role challenged me to learn more about digital marketing and retention strategies en masse.

After meeting my now husband at this company, we moved to Melbourne where I launched into a social media role at Australia Post. I was invited to work on their Employer Value Propositions (EVP’s) and assist Recruitment in an audit of their external presence.

With this, I earned the role of the Employer Branding Manager where I grew a team of four. I’ve since been on maternity leave and have joined RMIT University to build and launch their EVP and promote diversity campaigns.

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

I’m currently the Employer Branding Manager at RMIT University. We’re passionate about uncovering why our people choose to work at the university – and this research is done on a global scale.

When we learn about their motivations and reasons why RMIT is an employer of choice, we use this information as value points across all of our recruitment and onboarding assets. Think of my team as a marketing function within recruitment.

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

Well, I’ve just returned to work from 10 months of parental leave. Not only am I trying to get through the day, but I’m transitioning into a new life and very much still learning about what a “typical day” looks like for my family.

I wake up at 5:30AM to hop in the shower and get myself ready. Then, it’s time to feed and dress my baby, feed the dogs, get our coats on, drop my husband at the train, drop my baby at school and then get myself to the train to get into the city.

The old me would need a nap from all of this activity so early in the morning! Everything is timed down to the minute. I’ve always been very scheduled and rely on it to keep my sanity.

The train ride into the city is where I pop in the AirPods, listen to music and review my calendar for the day. I’ve also started using this time to do work-related online trainings so it doesn’t take away from my day or home life.

I arrive in the city, stop to get a coffee and then my day officially starts. My day to day at work really varies as the marketing campaign we’re working on heavily influences my tasks and whereabouts on campus.

I make sure to be on the 4:40 PM train every day to make sure I can pick up my daughter, give her dinner, pack bags for the next day, bath, bottle and bed for her. This is followed by dinner and Netflix for me and my husband, until my head hits the pillow at 10.

We made a rule last year that we don’t have mobiles with us after 8:30PM. I had a pretty big burn out at work a few years ago, which influenced this decision – and I try to stick by this rule as much as I can.

My daughter is going through the “I can’t sleep in my own bed” phase, so I wake up at around 2AM to bring her into our bed for a koala cuddle.

Navigating this new schedule means I haven’t found time to exercise in a formal setting, but I’m toying with the idea of doing YouTube guided yoga at 5AM in my living room – or – venturing over to campus at lunch for Pilates classes.

I’m lucky that my job includes a lot of walking, in the meantime while sleep is a sought after currency in my household.

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

I have two tips that work well for me:

1. Don’t subscribe to a state of overwhelm

Easier said than done, but since having a kid – I have a different perspective on how I use my energy. More specifically, I know that I can only allocate a percentage of my energy to work and still have enough gusto to give my baby the attention she needs.

It’s a juggle when you want to be kick ass at everything you do, so I’ve set limitations by recognising stress will come my way at work, but if I synthesise the challenge at hand into smaller tasks, I can achieve so much more.

I just went to lunch with a friend today and he commented on the fact that I hadn’t checked my phone the whole time. I try to compartmentalise me-time and work-time, and in either place – I’m able to give it my all.

2. Treat yourself

Thursday nights are my night away from my weekly routine. This is my time to make plans, go to dinner and get home a little later than I normally would. It gives me something to look forward to and lets me blow off the steam from the week.

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

Balance has always been a funny word for me. What’s important is to combine great work ethic and a realisation that work is a means to the rest of the awesome things in your life.

The word “regulate” is more meaningful to me: I have to be able to show up, give it my all, but know when to switch off and regulate to be home and in that mindset. When I’m on – I’m on. But when I need to be calm and in a home mindset, I have to regulate to that instantly.

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

Work life balance means the being able to always say “yes” to yourself. It means doing great work, so when an opportunity to listen to a speaker during work hours arises, you can go and be totally present without worrying about all the work piling up on your desk.

It means recognising that leaving work to go to the gym will clear your head so you can be more focused later on. It means realising work will always be there, but your baby won’t always need you like they do right now.

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?

Spend 5 minutes at the start of every day (over coffee) reviewing your to-do list and do the same thing 5 minutes before you turn off for the day.

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

I’ve just read Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming. She spent a lot of the book talking about the early days of her and Barack’s relationship – specifically her worries about being able to balance her career, his career, their relationship and being a parent.

It gave me confidence in that all people worry about the balance of what they have and what they want – and that I’d be OK during this transition for my family.

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

Spend 5 minutes at the start of every day (over coffee) reviewing your to-do list and do the same thing 5 minutes before you turn off for the day.

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

Work somewhere where the people care about you. Get clear about what you need from an employer and find a job that makes (and keeps) those promises!

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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.