Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Ceillie Clark-Keane, Head of Marketing & Communications at Building Ventures

Ceillie Clark-Keane is the Head of Marketing & Communications at Building Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Boston, MA.

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

I’m always happy to share my background because I love hearing the interesting ways people land in jobs that turn out to be their perfect careers. When I graduated college, I moved to Boston for a master’s program in English Lit with an academic career in my plans.

After finishing that program, I taught for a year then started a PhD program in a city and at an institution that turned out to be a terrible fit. I quickly moved back to Boston and had to not only get a job right away, but also redefine my career goals. No pressure!

I met with a career counsellor who helped me think through my skills and interests, which I didn’t realise were marketable, let alone a good fit for marketing. (I found this counsellor through my alma mater, and I would recommend that anyone going through an early career transition do the same.)

I worked in edtech for a couple years and did freelance writing on the side, which was a great way to figure out what I liked working on and what editors or marketing managers were expecting.

Then, I got an amazing opportunity that changed my career trajectory—I started as a managing editor at a martech company with an award-winning blog. This was the best crash course in marketing, including branding, content marketing, and SEO. It was also the company where I met my current boss, who is a partner here at Building Ventures. 

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

I almost always start my day with a book and two cups of coffee. When work starts (usually around 9:30), it’s a whirlwind. Here’s an example (from this past week). I worked from home on Monday, so I took my two dogs for a walk with my husband before signing on.

Then, I jumped into email responses, since I fell behind after travelling for a work event the week before. After I managed my inbox, I had a team meeting to go over any internal updates and what our priorities for the week were. Then, I started working on some changes to our website, adjusting the description for a portfolio company to reflect their series c announcement. 

After spending most of the afternoon working on a message map, I met with my mentee. I volunteer with a group that matches young women interested in entrepreneurship with subject matter experts; we had a great discussion about social media marketing. After travelling last week, I had a very quiet night—another dog walk, dinner, and catching up on TV (including WeCrashed, so good).

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

I’m working a hybrid schedule right now, and I’m surprised to find myself thriving. I was always interested in a remote job, and when I started working from home full-time during the pandemic I told everyone I was never going back to an office.

I don’t write well with distractions, and I don’t work well stuck in one location throughout the day. But when I joined Building Ventures, a hybrid schedule made the most sense for onboarding—and I’ve stuck with it. 

With such a small team, it’s nice to be in the office a few days a week to take advantage of getting to know my teammates, getting to listen in on investment team calls, and getting to learn more about both venture capital and the built environment—industries new to me in this role.  

Right now, I usually work Monday and Friday at home and Tuesday through Thursday in the office. That way, I get to have two days of deep work to get ahead or catch up, and then I have three days in the office when I try to schedule any necessary meetings.

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

Work-life balance is hard! There are two ways I try to achieve that balance. The first strategy is recognizing that balance means my work day isn’t going to look exactly the same every day.

Sometimes I have an email going out at 9 am, so I want to make sure I’m online early to give it one last proofread, while other days I might have slept terribly, woken up late, and had to run to the post office before getting into the office. If I don’t have meetings and I’m not missing deadlines, I try to let myself off the hook. This leads into my second strategy.

I believe that a huge way to achieve work-life balance is through trust. My team trusts that I’m going to get what I need done in time; I try to trust myself to do the same.

(Did you notice how many times I said “try” here? It’s such a process!)

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

I am so addicted to my phone—which, I know, isn’t uncommon at all. One thing I’ve started doing recently is deleting Slack from my phone when I find myself checking it too much on weekends, even when I don’t have any notifications. That way, I have to take an extra step when I want to log on again. Highly recommend it!

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

In terms of work-related books, one of the most fascinating books I read recently was WordSlut by Amanda Montell. It’s a linguistic exploration of the sexism (and heteronormativity) that’s built into our vocabulary, which I found so interesting and informative. I’d recommend it for anyone who’s spending most of their days writing emails, talking in meetings, or sending slacks. 

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

The Libby App, which lets you access ebooks and audiobooks from your local library. It’s so easy to use, and I love listening to audiobooks when I’m walking to work or running errands.

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

Anna Weiner. I loved her memoir Uncanny Valley about working in tech, and I’m so curious how her routine as a writer now might be influenced by that environment or shaped by that experience.

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

Not working makes you better at your job. I 100% believe this. Relaxing is great, and having other interests is even better—whether it’s reading fiction, learning piano, being with family, playing on a softball team, or travelling to new places. When you’re engaged in interests outside of work, you’re learning and growing. This is good for your job, too! 

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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.