Balancing the Grind with Brittany Meale, Strategist at OMD Australia

Brittany Meale is a Strategist at OMD Australia, where she works as a strategic consultant for many of Australia’s top brands and securing several high-profile pitch wins.

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Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?

I always dreamed of becoming a writer, and I pursued journalism in higher education. After completing my studies, I decided to explore new opportunities in London, leaving behind a budding career as an editor for ‘Frock Paper Scissors’ and contributor for Mamamia.

Instead, I landed a job making juices for the women whose careers I thought I was destined to have. Eventually I landed a role as a corporate receptionist in Soho, a hub known for its many media agencies. This introduced me to the world of advertising. In just five years, I went from leading people to meeting rooms to leading meetings inside them.

My media career began in 2017 at OMD Sydney. During my first year, I won “best speaker” in Omnicom’s ‘Pitch Off,’ which piqued my interest in strategy. As a new Account Manager in 2019, I had my first taste of a client pitch. This experience solidified my desire to pursue a career in strategy.

In 2020, I joined News Corp as a Strategist. I led the development of two bespoke research projects to assist the travel industry during Covid and earned a full scholarship for a Mini MBA to further hone my skills. I also had the opportunity to work on a campaign for Lilydale chicken, which was featured on Gruen, a career highlight.

I returned to OMD as a Strategist in 2021, now serving as a strategic consultant for many of Australia’s top brands and securing several high-profile pitch wins. In 2022, I was chosen as one of 30 future industry leaders by TikTok Accelerator and Yahoo Academy, from over 100+ entries in each, and was recently named on B&T 30 under 30, an achievement of which I am immensely proud.

Outside of work, I am passionate about mentoring others, particularly underrepresented and vulnerable young women, through the Warrior Woman Foundation. I’m also an advocate for creating a more inclusive workplace for everyone, serving as a captain of OMD’S DE&I Committee and member of OMG OPEN Pride. I’ve been very fortunate in my career and I will continue to advocate for others to have the same opportunities I have been afforded.

We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?

One of the things I love most about my job is its daily variety. A significant part of my role involves solving business problems for my clients. Currently, I am working on two different briefs: one to promote a new Sony Pictures film, and the other to increase gameplay for Australia’s most loved consumer promotion, Maccas Monopoly.

When I am not responding to a specific brief, I explore the latest developments in my clients’ industries, consumer trends, and cultural phenomena. Recently, I wrote an article for OMD Observer analysing the impact of the cost of living on subscription services, which will be shared with clients to help them in business decision-making.

Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?

My definition of work-life balance involves ensuring that I spend enough time out in the world actually living as a consumer and a person/partner/friend/daughter. If strategists don’t do this, our work can become very academic rather than reflective of what is actually going on for people.

Working from home a few days a week helps create a sense of balance. I live by the beach, so I try to take a walk by the ocean a few times a week either with my partner or by myself, listening to a podcast or music. Removing the office commute time a few days a week makes me feel like I have more time for myself.

I’ve recently been turning routine exercise classes into social occasions. I will do a barre or pilates class with a friend and go for coffee afterward. It’s a simple thing, but it always makes me feel great afterward.

I also try to cook as many meals at home as I can. I’ve never been an amazing cook, but I am improving with time, so making dinner always gives me a sense of accomplishment even if I haven’t done anything else outside of work that day.

As for maintaining balance, it’s important to acknowledge that I have periods where I’m better at this and periods where I fall off a bit. If I have a lot going on and things slip, I try not to be too hard on myself because I know making myself feel guilty isn’t helpful. Over the last few years, I have had periods where I’ve really prioritised my health by setting myself a fitness challenge. I can be competitive in nature, so once I set my mind to something, I have to complete it. I’ve come to realise that this isn’t sustainable to maintain either so I am working on small, consistent gains rather than bursts of intense focus.

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Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?

Change can be quite difficult to accept, I’m a creature of habit, and have had periods of being extremely anxious so I haven’t always harnessed the full power of change. However, I appreciate that it has greatly impacted some of my proudest achievements, which have stemmed from personal growth. 

One shift I’ve made over the last few years to improve my work-life balance is my outlook on success. As I mentioned before, I can be competitive, but I’ve realised that work success shouldn’t come at the expense of my mental or physical health. Spending time in jobs in London that I didn’t see as contributing to my career, I felt like I had to work harder and longer than others to make up for lost time.

During lockdown, I took the opportunity to slow down and reset. I reflected on my approach so far and realised that the way I was behaving, while obtaining the desired results, wasn’t sustainable. This is when I started taking daily walks and reading again for the first time in years. I also started prioritising my diet by making nutritious lunches rather than eating whatever was quickest, easiest, and could be had at my desk.

These are habits I’ve tried to keep as lockdowns subsided. Another change I’ve made, which could be attributed to Covid or just getting older, is striking the right balance between restful time at home during the week and spending time with loved ones. My close relationships fuel me and are an extremely important aspect of my life.

However, pre-Covid, I had a tendency to want to stay out late or have a few extra drinks when work was hard, which ultimately made me feel worse the next day. These days, I take sleep a lot more seriously, and I make sure to strike a balance that works for me.

We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey towards balance?

A few years ago, I read a great book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod, which emphasises the importance of making time to set up healthy habits for mental and physical health every day. When I was still working in the office full-time I definitely implemented this approach. Now I feel I have a lot more time for myself just by nature of working from home.

While not directly related to the question, I highly recommend the short audio workouts available on the ClassPass app. I can do yoga sessions ranging from 5 to 25 minutes at home, even in between meetings if I’m pressed for time.

As a general tip, I try to alternate between books and podcasts that teach me something and those that I simply enjoy. I do a lot of reading and thinking at work, so it’s equally important for me to unwind with something light-hearted. We don’t need to optimise ourselves all the time.

Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Last year, I had the opportunity to hear an inspiring keynote by Kevin Carroll (KC), a self-professed “instigator of inspiration”. He spoke at length about the forgotten art of play, which he took seriously in his role as a “creative change agent” at Nike. While we all acknowledge how important play is for children’s development, we tend to forget about it as adults.

Research shows that play can help us bounce back from adversity, innovate, and simply have fun. We each have our own form of play, but it’s something we do just for the sake of it. Albert Einstein even said that play is the highest form of research. KC has worked with numerous professionals on the benefits of incorporating play into all aspects of our lives, including the workplace, with life-changing and career-altering results. I highly recommend watching his TED Talk on why play is necessary or listening to one of the many podcasts where we unpacks why play is so important.

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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.