Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind With Samuel Williamson, Global Brand Marketing – Senior Manager at Intuit

Samuel Williamson is the Global Brand Marketing – Senior Manager at Intuit, a financial software company, a role which has taken him from Sydney to London and currently, to the San Francisco Bay Area.

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

I’m a proud Kiwi who’s been living in San Francisco the past three years after a decade in Sydney. My professional career has been a predictably wild ride.

After uni, career moments include:

  • curator of an art gallery
  • assistant label manager at an independent music label
  • owner & editor of a magazine
  • marketing manager of a review website
  • unemployed for six months
  • social media manager of a wealth management company
  • and for the past five years, marketer at a US tech company based in Silicon Valley.

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

I’m a senior manager on the global brand marketing team at Intuit QuickBooks. We roll out a global campaign each year across all marketing channels.

As the global lead for social media, my team is also responsible for the strategy, content, tools, tests and performance insights for social media across 10+ countries.

It’s a fun job as I’m constantly learning new things from my colleagues in these different markets. Everyone has unique challenges and it’s rewarding partnering with them to find solutions.

We also work with a bunch of talented agencies who make all of this stuff possible. Shout out to those legends.

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

Pending early morning calls with Europe, or late night calls with India or Australia, a day looks a little something like this:

5am: wake up (not cause I’m a go-getter, but because my gal gets up at 4.30am so it’s impossible to sleep any longer)

5am-6am: reply to my friends’ crappy jokes on WhatsApp, read sports articles, check personal social media, filter work emails and Slack, breakfast.

6am: shower and get ready for work

6.30am: walk to work

7am-8am: reply to urgent emails or Slacks, plan day ahead.

8am-12pm: meetings (mixture of video conferences with teams overseas or in-person with local teams)

12pm-12.45pm: lunch. Rain, hail or shine, I get outside on my lunch break.

1-4pm: meetings

4.30pm: work out / exercise

6pm: check work emails and Slack

6.30pm-9pm: Sam time!

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

I’ve learned all my tips and tricks off other people. But that’s the smart way to do it, right?

  • Colour coding your calendar is a great way to understand where you’re spending your time each week
  • Set specific meeting lengths. If it only needs to be 10 minutes, then make it that. Place value on your own time and your colleagues’ time.
  • Have confidence in not attending every meeting you’re invited to. If it’s super important someone will get a hold of you after.
  • Slack is a great way to get quick answers or make decisions without having to meet in person
  • Put away your phone and be present. You’ll be more effective.

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

I lose balance when I don’t make time for exercise. I prioritise this during the week by working out three times, and on weekends by playing golf or going for a hike.

When traveling for work, I make sure I’m doing something each day, even if it’s just a brisk walk. I’ve found exercise to be the number one way to deal with stress and bring calm to a busy schedule. I intentionally do a lot of walking, and use this time to call friends and family, or listen to music or podcasts that make me happy.

My fiancé is eager to explore the world at any given moment, so we try and have a holiday every 3-6 months which also helps keep things fresh in the workplace. Even a day trip out of town is a good mental break from everyday life.

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

I’m lucky to work for a company that promotes work life balance. No one blinks an eyelid when someone works from home. We’re judged on our output, not where we’re sitting when we do the work.

Ultimately, work life balance to me means having control of your time. My long-term goal is to live in a quiet beach town, so I’ll always be drawn to companies who promote flexibility.

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?

In my late-twenties I decided to focus on my development as a person. Where was I a year ago compared to now? By doing this yearly self-analysis for my career, finances, emotional & physical health, I’ve been able to improve gradually in each area over time.

This decision to look inwards rather than outwards turned out to be smart as my friends are far more talented and successful than I am, so I would have been screwed if I used them as the yard stick.

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

Martin Crowe’s Winning Cricket taught me how to hit a cracking cover drive. As a kid I happened to read the original version of The Definitive Book Of Body Language by Allan Pease. This kickstarted my obsession with human behaviour and communication.

I use podcasts to learn more about these topics. I actually don’t read a lot of books, as I’ve always been more interested in watching films as they’re a great way to escape reality.

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

I intentionally look to find the positive in every situation. It’s not always easy, but it is possible. Sometimes the positive can simply be “things can’t get any worse than this!”

I’ve developed a ritual each day when I walk to and from the office to mentally note a couple of things I am grateful for.

This is a good way to remind yourself of how lucky we really are. This has also inspired me to take action and support people who need help.

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

Do what’s best for you. Everyone has different things that are important to their happiness. What’s yours? Focus on making time for that. If you want to chat you can get a hold of me on Linkedin, Instagram or Twitter.

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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.