Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind with Danielle Veivers, Account Manager at Honner

Danielle Veivers is an Account Manager at corporate and financial PR agency Honner, where she works with a range of clients in the financial services sector, including property, banking, superannuation, ethical investing, asset management, and private equity.

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

I grew up in a regional town in Far North Queensland and am the first in my family to achieve a university education. I fell into the world of finance by accident when I made a spur of the moment decision to take a role at Westpac Bank.

I worked at Westpac for six-years, in a variety of roles, while I completed my dual degree in Business (PR) and Journalism at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane. My time at Westpac, and my upbringing, were pivotal to my future career choices. When Honner approached me about a grad role in its Sydney office I was over the moon!

I quickly became immersed in the world of financial communications and realised the power of financial services, when done well, to change a person’s life. Financial education and literacy continue to be true passions of mine.

Since joining Honner three years ago, I have progressed to an Account Manager, managing the communications programs for leading financial and corporate brands.

My role spans traditional PR and media relations, as well as corporate, reputational and issues management, listed communications, marketing and internal communications, and social media management.

It is a critical and exciting time to be in finance, with the industry adapting to the Royal Commission recommendations, and most recently, the impact of COVID-19 on the economy and markets.

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

It is a dynamic industry and my role is quite varied. But there is always one constant – coffee!

Typically, I start my day by catching up on emails and reading the papers. This helps me feel organised, in control, and starts my day off right – it is the work version of a big bowl of Weet-Bix! It also sparks my creativity as I often come across story ideas and angles that I can workshop for my clients.

I also like to start my day with the ‘big ticket’ items. I find I am most energised and inspired in the morning and having ‘focus’ time leads to higher quality work for clients and the team.

This may include working on content, such as media releases or contributed articles, strategy and message development, brainstorming creative ideas and proactive pitches, or hosting interviews and planning events.

If possible, I prefer to schedule meetings in the afternoons, which may include client WIPs, team meetings, or mentoring sessions.

I love that no day is the same in my industry. With a 24-hour news cycle we must be adaptive, flexible, and responsive. It is a very exciting role!

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

We are currently in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown, which has forced many workplaces to be more flexible and supportive of remote working.

While this is a very concerning time for the global community and economy, I am choosing to see the positives and have established a work from home (WFH) routine that is very supportive of ‘balancing the grind’.

As I mentioned, I am a morning person and with WFH I typically start my workday at 6am to have undisturbed time to focus on my ‘big ticket’, creative tasks as most of the team isn’t online yet. This affords me more flexibility throughout the day for exercise, household chores, or just taking some me time.

I really appreciate the current flexibility in the workplace and feel it brings out the best of me, both personally and professionally. I hope that we can establish a new normal when we return to the office and workplaces will be more open-minded about flexible and remote working.

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

The lines have blurred between work and home, especially during the COVID-19 period. I think it’s important to be adaptive to work-life balance, but if you are a workaholic like me, boundaries do need to be set.

My top three tips to do this are:

  1. Establish your non-negotiables – for me this is reading a novel before work, having an exercise hour in my day, and being home in time to cook a wholesome meal and have some couch time.
  2. Create a dedicated workspace – this is particularly important when working from home. Creating separation between the ‘office’ and home life is crucial to maintain balance.
  3. Tailor your workday – As I said, I am a morning person, so I try to design my day around this. While not always possible, I find this allows me to bring my best self to every aspect of my life.

The current isolation period has also given us more time to reflect on our values outside of work and refocus on other aspects of our lives. For me, it was important to prioritise this to ensure balance.

For example, in the COVID-19 shutdown I have rediscovered my passion for dancing, started learning Italian, and found my creative flair through learning how to do gel nails and baking up a storm.

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5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

For me, this is easy! I used to think hours in the office demonstrated your dedication, commitment, and work ethic. If your timesheets showed a 12-hour day and working on the weekend you were a model employee.

I now know this is far from true and is not sustainable.

Being a model employee is about bringing your best self to work. It is being productive, efficient, and focused during work hours and demonstrating flexibility and commitment to work long hours when needed.

I also believe you should never underestimate the power of a to-do list!

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

I love to read and for anyone wanting to increase their reading time I would suggest the Good Reads app, where you can track your progress and set yourself challenges.

From a work perspective, I read the Australian Financial Review (AFR), The Australian, and NY Times daily as well as financial and investing trade publications.

I also read novels related to my industry and to improve my leadership skills, such as Banking Bad by Adele Ferguson, or Working with Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Coleman. Both great reads!

I also think it is important to broaden your reading beyond work related content to inspire creativity and mental wellbeing. I love crime fiction, classics, and biographies. My current top three suggestions are – Becoming by Michelle Obama, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

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

Start each day right. This means not ignoring the alarm, enjoying my coffee and novel on the balcony, and establishing my work to-do list. This puts me in a positive mindset for the day.

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

Done! As a massive Michelle Obama fan, Becoming was an amazing read. She talks in detail about balancing her career, political, and personal life and actually made me feel a lot better about how my career and personal goals were tracking. This is definitely a book I will read again and again.

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

Be kind to yourself. As a high achiever, I understand the feeling that there is always more to accomplish, learn, and focus on at work. Prioritising your personal needs and wellbeing can feel like a guilty pleasure, but it is essential to bringing your best self to work.

Remember, we are more than what we are paid to do for 8 hours of the day and focusing on your personal skills and interests is vital to achieving balance and wellbeing.

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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.