Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Carly Drew Barrett, Head of Content Marketing, Growth Markets at PayPal

Carly Drew Barrett is the Head of Content Marketing, at PayPal, across the company’s key growth markets; Mexico, Brazil, Japan and China.

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

My first ‘real’ job fresh out of university, was in London, as a Junior Graphic Designer. My lecturer was probably acutely aware of this long before I was, but as it turns out, I wasn’t very good at it – so I moved sideways and took up a client service role at a creative agency.

Following this, I moved to Sydney, continuing at creative agencies, making my way through the ranks and into strategy, where I spent the majority of my agency career. I ended up a strategic lead on the PayPal account, which I absolutely loved, and after a few years’ experience working with the brand, I decided I wanted to join them.

I jumped to what many agency friends refer to as ‘the dark side’ and moved to Singapore to take an APAC brand role. I’ve been with PayPal for four years now, having recently set up the content marketing function and leading the content marketing team for our growth markets.

The role of my team within the PayPal marketing organisation is to connect PayPal to our customers through insight-led strategy and execution of brand, product and partner narratives, across our key growth markets; Mexico, Brazil, Japan and China.

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

 Like many working mums, I typically try to wake up before my kids as it’s all-systems-go once they’re awake! A few days a week I’ll have early morning / late evening meetings as I work with colleagues across different time zones, so it’s often that my team will see my husband bringing me coffee, or my son trying to climb onto my lap, mid-video call.

My day is typically split between time with my team, meetings and deliverables – it’s not always divided evenly, but I try and prioritise using an importance/urgency type model that I draw up every Monday morning for that week.

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

 It does. If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s that our jobs can be done from (almost) anywhere. I’m very lucky, in that PayPal already enabled quite flexible working arrangements but remote working is all I’ve known for the last two years or so, as we have not yet returned to the office full time. Having flexibility in my role is so important – I couldn’t work in a business that didn’t support it. Life is unpredictable; we’re humans, not machines.

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

 A few years ago, after feeling quite burnt out working in agencies, I started to think of my time more holistically. I have 24 hours in a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; what do I need (and more importantly, want) to do with that. It means that there isn’t a clear distinction now between work and life, and I structure my time and to-do lists accordingly.

That sometimes looks like finishing early on a Monday to go to the dentist, working on a Wednesday night because something important has popped up, starting late on a Thursday to take my son to swimming lessons, or working on a Saturday because a video shoot is happening somewhere where it’s still Friday. If I can do all the things I need and want to do with my time – that’s work-life balance.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

 It might sound cliché but I recently bought an Apple watch – the daily reminders to stand, move, do exercise etc. has dramatically changed my views on exercise as well as my drive to do any! I’ve gone from basically zero, to doing something, however small, every day.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

 I’m most recently loving the Sway podcast, hosted by tech journalist and New York Times writer, Kara Swisher. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

For work; I use Miranda app every single day, just to help navigate meeting times across different markets. 

For life; highly recommend Rockit – a genius device you can attach to your child’s pram which rocks it automatically. 

Also for life; Breville Dual Boiler Espresso Machine – because without good coffee, I can’t function.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

 Jacinda Arden. She’s already given us a little insight into what her version of work-life balance looks like, but I’d be interested to hear it first-hand.

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

I’ve thought a lot recently about a quote I read from Abraham Lincoln – “Discipline is choosing between what you want now and what you want most.” I think it’s a helpful and challenging lens in which to view our thoughts and ideas about work-life balance through.

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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.