Stephanie Quine is the Digital Marketing Manager at Actuaries Institute Australia, the sole professional body for actuaries in Australia.
Balance the Grind spoke to Stephanie about her career transition from journalism to marketing, producing and publishing content for over 5000+ members, balancing her job with freelance, producing a podcast, and more.
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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your background and career?
Sure, I studied Journalism at UTS in Sydney. The highlight was a six-month exchange to a ‘Journalisthøjskole’ in Denmark. I interned with Fairfax before taking a full-time job at a legal magazine.
There, I interviewed lawyers, judges, CEOs, students and advocates on everything from the rule of law, to global mergers and billable hours. Rates of depression and suicide in the legal industry are comparatively high so our coverage often focused on workload, firm culture, partnership structures and alternative ways of doing things.
I’ve been lucky to have supportive bosses and work environments. As a reporter, I loved getting out of the office, visiting chambers, courts, universities and attending industry events for stories. I built up my skills in writing, video producing, presenting to camera (including a few live crosses on SkyNews), and collaborated with fantastic Editors, Graphic Designers and Web Experts.
After 2.5years at Cirrus Media I left the company, and the country, on a one-way ticket to Canada. Trading journalism for housekeeping, I spent 10 months snowboarding and travelling across countries with new friends. A strange career move you might think, but it was worth it. I learned a lot.
I accepted a Communications and Marketing Coordinator role at a not-for-profit back in Sydney where I’ve been for almost five years, learning to live a little slower.
2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?
I’m Digital Marketing Manager at the Actuaries Institute. Most people have never heard of an actuary so – promoting the work of this tiny profession – is a good challenge.
Broadly, I plan and publish content that builds brand awareness and engages our (5000+) members. This is mainly through websites, including an online magazine, events campaigns and social media platforms.
I work with a team of volunteer Editors to source and review articles, and collaborate with freelance videographers, animators and copywriters on content and creative projects. My team recently launched a Podcast Channel which gained 20,000+ listens from 50 episodes, which I’m quite proud of.
Actuaries look at the financial risk attached to “future uncertain outcomes” and the Institute leads research into the long-term impacts of things like genetic testing, climate change, big data and mental health, on insurance. It can be complex and technical, but as a trained journalist, I love translating the news angle and spotting a ‘golden grab’.
Day to day, my team supports all the internal business units including the Board, Events, Public Policy, Education and Member Services team.
We send targeted communications out, and report on engagement using platforms like Google Analytics, SurveyMonkey, Campaign Monitor and YouTube.
3) What does a typical day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
My day usually starts with a dip into a novel or podcast on the train. Once in the city, my number one priority is coffee and quick catch up with my team.
I scan emails and spend most of the day copywriting, reviewing content and coordinating with editors, creatives and staff in the office.
I might write a podcast run-sheet; welcome volunteers to the ‘studio’ (meeting room); and draft speech notes for the CEO before lunch. This afternoon I set up a ring light and DSLR for impromptu staff photographs; met with my team to brainstorm branding ideas; and liaised with a graphic designer and PR rep.
It’s quite hands on which I like. I try to make time to research new marketing technologies and move along my strategic projects. One of those now is launching a new Advertising Policy and Media Kit.
I’ll sometimes use evenings to work on any freelance projects I’ve taken on. Problomelette.com being a favourite as it’s something totally different to my day job.
4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you prioritise your workload?
I think a lot of Marketing/Comms people spend so much time making content, they have no time to market it or “ship it”, in Steve Jobs’ words. This is where strategy – and the 80/20 rule – is important.
I try to tackle my ‘to do’ list (paper or Microsoft Sticky Notes) of most important tasks ‘MITs’ early, while I’m fresh. Urgent comms requests like website updates and e-comm sends can push these further and further back. Lots of communication around priorities is key to managing expectations here.
No matter how busy things are, you need to make time to move along your bigger strategic projects as this is where a lot of learning and career development comes. I think having a good Mentor or relationship with your Manager helps with that.
Re. tricks, I cannot live without Video Speed Controller, ColourPick Eye Dropper and Snipping Tool. Blocking out time in your calendar and experimenting with workflow tools like Trello within your team can really help too.
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 use a few lunchtimes a week to get out of the office for a yoga or gym class – or at least a solid walk – and really notice a difference in my mood and energy levels when I skip this routine.
I generally leave work on time and don’t take work home. There’s always more to be done after an 8- or 9-hour day but I think it’s important to have boundaries and rest.
Being out of ‘balance’ is inevitable in life, so I think it’s more useful to think about what is sustainable for you.
When it comes to job satisfaction, a great realisation for me personally was that work and career don’t have to fulfill me completely. You can find purpose in hobbies, passion projects and spending time with people you love. I’ve found painting, playing indoor netball and binge watching The Office very rewarding!
6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?
A long walk through a national park or stretch of beach usually calms and centers me. Staying down the coast or just staying home and reading, painting and sleeping in on weekends is my ultimate solace. I used to get serious FOMO but am better at saying “no” now which helps protect my recharge time.
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?
A positive “solution-focused” attitude. This sounds like a CV. But seriously, to realise everyone makes mistakes; to own yours; take the lessons and opportunities; and keep moving forward. I’m still learning about this, all the time; I’m a work in progress.
In terms of formal learning, taking short courses and free online courses (I found HubSpot excellent for a newbie marketer) to develop your skills and interests. Also, if your responsibilities or tenure has increased significantly at work, ask your Manager about a pay rise. Just ask.
I don’t know if having a beer with a friend counts as a habit but regularly keeping up with family a few trusted friends not only helps me relax and enjoy life, but also and put things in perspective.
A solid support network through the ups and downs of career and personal life is priceless.
8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?
I recently produced a podcast on a little green book called Mental Spinach. The authors go through 4 lenses (Identity, Opportunity, Impact and Sustainability) from which to reflect on your life and career – there are some great practical tools in it.
The Confidence Code is brilliant (especially for women). The Little Book of Sloth Philosophy will stop you ‘nap-shaming’ anyone, including yourself and, as someone not naturally disciplined, SuperHuman by Habit was helpful.
Reading lets my mind relax and imagination take over. Some of my favourite fiction books lately have been The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
9) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?
Apart from writing a list, getting some exercise and texting my mum back, it’s remembering to be grateful. For a long time, I was searching for the next great thing that I could do job and career wise.
While it’s important to assess where you’re heading and work hard for your dreams, I think you’ve got to appreciate the opportunities right in front of you and connect with those around you to get the most out of each day.
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