Balancing the Grind with Chloe Gilchrist, Chief Operating Officer at Hogarth Australia

Chloe Gilchrist is the Chief Operating Officer at Hogarth Australia, a creative production company producing content across digital, motion, photography and print media.

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

I’m Chief of all things operational and transformational for Hogarth Australia – but COO if you like a title (I think titles can be so deceiving). Hogarth’s three years old here in Australia but, over ten (years old) worldwide.

Hogarth’s a content production company. But we’re definitely not your typical content creators. I think it’s our “smarter” proposition that gives us that edge.

We mix hybrid talent, tech, scale, platforms and automation to deliver smarter and targeted solutions that reach further. And we don’t just craft content. We help transform the businesses that want to create more content; consulting with clients and helping design and deliver change management plans. And that’s where my role comes into play.

I split my time between two main workstreams; the first is our own operational strategy, and the second is business transformation for our partners, leading client consultancy.

Change management is what motivates me the most. From a young age, I embraced change; I questioned what was traditionally expected of me, always (painfully) analysed the why, and pushed for excellence. I think it’s ingrained in me.

Before I made the move to Hogarth, I spent more than 15 years working in creative agencies (I fell into the industry when my Uncle offered me a part-time job while at Uni). And I’ve been blessed to work with some incredible brands.

I thank some of the smaller independent agencies and the awesome mentors around me for teaching me about excellence (I talk about excellence a lot!) and for setting me on the right trajectory.

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

I’m a real creature of habit (ironic for someone who loves change) – at least when it comes to the parts of my day I can control. So although my daily routine tends to shift around meetings and deadlines; I’d say I’m pretty predictable when it comes to personal habits.

I head off around 6am on a 5k coastal walk with my Frenchie pup and fiancé, Ash. I find it’s a really meditative way of starting the day and gives me headspace before work-mode. Sometimes Ash and I do the stroll and don’t feel the need to chat – we just enjoy the quiet.

My workday begins when we get back and I’m always ready for an 8:30 VC on Teams with the other Execs – CEO, Justin and CFO, Jenn. We find a kick-off call gives us the chance to align on the next 24 hours; work through challenges and other priorities which is important now we’re not physically sitting alongside one another.

Although the rest of my day can vary depending on the week, it’s usually a mix of directing my senior team leads (Ops Director, National Content Director, Transformation Director and Product Director); building frameworks and mapping business transformation plans; hosting workshops and liaising with client stakeholders.

I also spend time working on a weekly forum I present, called “The Excellence Series”. It’s a bit of a passion project for me and brings together research in psychology and sociology to look at the way we behave, our responses to challenges and how we can search for solutions in new ways.

Something else I do every day is make lists. As no two days are the same, I like to have my daily goals set and tasks written down. I tick them off as I get through them.

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

We’ve been working remotely since early March due to COVID challenges and to keep our people safe. Personally, I’m loving the flexibility – I honestly feel calmer and more focused.

One of the best benefits of working remotely is cutting out the usual two-hour commute. It means I get the morning walk in and later in the day I can squeeze in a cycle or weights session at the gym.

As a business just out of start-up mode, the hours can be lengthy as we build and grow. I love what I do and the people I work with but, there’s got to be some form of mental balance. Fitness is my meditation and gets me in that happy place, so it makes all the difference to how I’m feeling and keeps me highly productive.

The team (all 135 of them in Sydney and Melbourne) have embraced working from home and the feedback and quality of work suggests it’s something we’ll continue, in some form, for the long haul.

I think the forced COVID push for us all to work from home will make flexible working for staff a reality – it’ll no longer be a fashionable term but a genuine possibility.

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

I’d say I prefer the idea of a work-life blend!

I’m very fortunate to work in a job I find incredibly rewarding and that I enjoy. That being said, I think self-care is a really important part of any blend (or balance, if you prefer).

For me, that means eating well, meditating through movement, getting creative (I love drawing, photography, singing); making sure I sleep at least eight hours a night… and enjoying a large glass of wine often.

I also love the outdoors, own a four-wheel drive and try to get off the grid as much as I can. A real joy of mine is setting up on a remote beach, pulling out my laptop and taking in the fresh air. Although I’m not able to do that every week, it’s moments like that that make me so grateful for what I have.

I find grounding myself with gratitude really shifts my focus. Finding that gratitude comes with taking care of my body and mind, both of which I think are key factors to me being happy. Being happy personally can do amazing things for your career, as well as your relationships.

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

Like all of us, many of my usual habits have shifted over the last six months due to COVID. But it’s because of this change that I’m truly able to appreciate what’s important in life and it’s certainly not the materialistic stuff.

It’s Ash, my little fur family (Leroy the pup and Dave the girl cat), it’s being able to be there for the people I care about on a deeper, more human level.

It’s gratitude in realising that I’ve got everything I want – which is a really fortunate place to be.

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

I don’t choose to read a lot of books specifically industry-related but, I’ll read anything on what makes us better and many times that’s for The Excellence Series.

Typically that’s psychology-based stuff – an area I’ve found incredibly fascinating since studying Sociology and Anthropology at Uni.

I also enjoy reading The Smith Journal – it’s a quarterly that shares loads of topics and facts in a super luxurious way. I find there’s something really lovely about reading a tangible book or journal.

As for podcasts, I’m a huge fan of anything true-crime. We listen to podcasts when we’re heading up the coast, so I’m always searching for a new one. Recently, I’ve loved “They Walk Among Us” – a podcast that covers everything from real-life cases to pretty surreal stories. It’s very addictive!

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

I succumbed and bought an Apple Watch back in July – mainly for tracking my fitness training. Ash and I are super competitive, so it was always going to be a dangerous purchase!

Although my watch has definitely pushed me to train harder, it’s transformed my relationship with my iPhone. I’m much less beholden to my phone now – I don’t need it with me and it’s stopped me flicking through “noise”. I feel like it’s made me way more present.

As for apps, music is my everything, so having Spotify on all my devices is non-negotiable.

Other than that, I can’t live without a really good leather notepad and a fine line pen (is that a gadget?!). I’m a list maker by nature, so being able to visually see my goals helps me stay accountable.

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

Melanie Perkins, the CEO of Canva.

Canva’s such a smart business model and product and I feel we all have something to learn from hard-working entrepreneurs like Melanie.

Entrepreneurs challenge traditional business models and ways of thinking, so it would be fascinating to hear how she blends work and life, and what habits she’s formed up along the way.

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

Ultimately, your work-life balance is personal. For me, discipline around my working days is a key part of that.

I find setting up a routine and allotting time for things that I find important helps create a healthy balance between work and life. But for someone else, this could look very different.

I’d also say that for a healthy balance, you have to take responsibility for your time and for your day. That too comes with discipline, but it also comes with prioritising what needs to get done.

You can change your whole day with the right outlook and a smart plan.

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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.