Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind With Victoria Yelland Riddell, National Advertising Manager at frankie press

Victoria Yelland Riddell is the National Advertising Manager at frankie press, an Australian publishing company, where she leads the sales team.

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

Like many people in the media, comms or marketing industry – it was a complete accident! I started off knowing I loved communications as a subject at university and was keen to get my foot in the door in public relations.

I landed a position at a boutique PR agency as an Account Coordinator and studied my Postgraduate degree in Public Relations simultaneously. I very quickly realised PR wasn’t for me and a friend recommended I look into advertising on the publishing side.

As a massive magazine and publishing fan for my entire adult life, I landed my dream job at Pacific Magazines working on the fashion and health brands. I quickly worked my way up to become a Manager working across key accounts.

Throwing myself even further into my love of media and communications, I decided to study my Masters of Communications at RMIT, which I graduated from in 2015.

I’m a bit of a chatterbox (my nick-name is Tori Stories for that very reason), so naturally, I relished the opportunity to make relationships my career. I have formed so many wonderful professional relationships and friendships within this industry – I love being client facing and getting out and about in the market.

After a few wonderful years at Pacific, I felt that I really needed to take a step forward into an organisation that offered me three things:

  1. Exposure into other departments and opportunities to collaborate company wide
  2. A brand that represented my values
  3. The opportunity to manage my own team.

I’d always admired the award winning frankie magazine. frankie had established itself as a conscientious millennial brand with a difference, and had a hugely engaged audience.

I loved that frankie had committed to and succeeded in inspiring and entertaining a growing audience for over 13 years, and I wanted to be a part of a brand that was a meaningful part of people’s lives.

As National Advertising Manager of frankie, I manage an enthusiastic, hilarious and hard-working sales team of direct reports, and I still work with national and global clients – so it’s the best of both worlds.

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

No two days are the same at frankie, which I love. It really depends on where we are in putting the print issue together. Deadline week is almost magical-madness, where all the bits and pieces come together and my team is selling like crazy!

I work from Sydney 30% of the time as most of my clients are in NSW. A travel week looks very different to a week in the office.

I spend a lot of time out in market with my wonderful clients, building strategy and insight led initiatives with my team, and collaborating with the marketing and editorial departments.

I’m so lucky that I’m able to initiate and bring to life my own brand extensions with the support of the editorial, marketing and management team.

Right now, we are rolling out a small business / SMB vertical my team and I came up with called Strictly Business. It’s great seeing a collaborative concept brought to life so quickly – one of the many benefits of working within an agile team.

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

The frankie workplace is super flexible. We’re all so accountable to our individual roles and the success of the business, flexibility means we are empowered to carry out our work on our own terms.

I’ve noticed I have to be strict on myself when working from home; not eating too much junk and not taking too many breaks or worse, not enough breaks; once you get the hang of it – you can get so much done.

Working from home or remotely is a great way to understand how you work as an individual. I tend to work from the office when I’m collaborating with the team. I’m up in Sydney and interstate, and sometimes overseas for client facing work – so quite often I’m working on the go!

Working remotely vs. in the office applies a different context and thinking to your job, and I feel lucky I can do both.

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

I can’t imagine my life without, Asana, and Google Drive. It took me years of refining my to-do list strategy, but now I’ve nailed it.

Usually I’ll double handle my inbox, using my inbox as my to-do list, with only actionable emails unfiled. As soon as they’ve been actioned, I file them but flag anything ongoing.

I write a note for myself in for any of those flagged email items. It means even if I miss an email, I’ve got it noted down on my running to-do list.

Asana is used by all of us as an implementation tool, it’s helpful when we’re all working on the same project but from different angles: editorial, commercial, production etc. It’s a great way of keeping us all accountable, and all the information in once place.

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

My job is such a massive part of my social life, and I love what I do – so sometimes it doesn’t feel like I need an escape!

I always have some kind of holiday booked in advance, I find that’s a great way to motivate yourself to work super hard and feel like you can really relax on that time off.

Exercise is also a huge part of my life. My partner and I go hiking in the warmer months, we’ve done some amazing walks overseas and in Australia. In winter I hit the gym almost every day.

I have a really wonderful group of girlfriends who train super hard and we all keep ourselves accountable. Right now, we’re all doing a 12-week fitness challenge, it’s a lot of fun.

I’ve made it my mission this year to see as many live gigs, theatre productions and shows as I can. I’m a bit of a performance arts nerd, maybe because I was never any good at it! I love dragging friends along to random events I’ve found on in Melbourne and Sydney.

I was lucky to live out the real work life balance dream this year. I attended a conference in Vegas with a client and then had some time off with friends in California – it was very literally a work/life trip!

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?

Personally, it’s been trial and error in terms of establishing healthy habits. Waking up early is absolutely key to starting my day off well. I love sitting at my kitchen bench with a coffee, first thing, without my phone or any technology, and reflecting on my week so far and the day I have ahead of me.

Being a commercial lead for frankie and also managing a team, means I have fingers in many pies. It’s always great to collect your thoughts first thing prior to coming into the office, where everyone wants a piece of you and needs something from you.

Understanding what you need to achieve first, allows you to prioritise all the extra tasks that come up that day.

I’ve always been a macro person, but I’ve learned to make reporting and data analysis a daily habit in my role. Understanding where you sit from a revenue perspective is important in knowing what your day is going to look like from a commercial standpoint.

Another contributing factor to my success at work is the support from my partner and family. My fiancée has always supported whatever crazy career path I wanted to go down, and was always there when I had a bad day.

My dad is also a very experienced business man and entrepreneur, and he’s always got some great advice and tough-love when I’m dealing with a professional crisis.

Another habit is writing down your to-do list for the next day the day before. It sounds simple but when 5pm rolls around, all you want to do is get out that door!

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

Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg really ignited my interest in digital and social media. She has done such an amazing job of breaking through the glass ceiling for women in the corporate world, and she has sound guidance when it comes to balancing roles at home and at work.

I love Simon Sinek’s Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone To Take Action. It has really helped me to understand setting an intention to everything you do in business and at work.

Also The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins helped me to get a grasp on managing a team for the first time when I joined frankie.

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

In regards to work – eat the frog first. Getting the biggest or most stressful task off your to-do list is the most liberating thing! I’ve made it a habit of identifying what that is every morning and making sure I give it my full attention before getting around to my less pressing tasks.

In terms of lifestyle, making time for yourself, specifically getting up early and exercising, or making yourself a coffee or reading a great book. If I get into a routine of not making any time to do things on my own that I enjoy, I get burnt out.

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

This is very cliché but find what you love doing, and it won’t feel like work. Once you’ve found your thing, and you’re working with an amazing bunch of people – you’ll feel motivated and excited to come to work every day. Surround yourself with friends and peers that support that dream!

I think finding a community that shares your values (outside of your immediate friends and families) is also so important. I recently became an ambassador for Yes Queen which is a revolution of kindness in the workplace.

It’s a beautiful community of like-minded professionals whose goal is to future-proof well-being at work. It’s a great resource for anyone who wants to establish a culture of inclusivity and positivity in their own workplace.

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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.