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Balancing the Grind with Emelie Holgersson, Associate Director, Marketing at Antler VC

Emelie Holgersson is an Associate Marketing Director at Antler, a global venture capital firm enabling and investing in the defining tech companies of tomorrow.

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

It’s been quite a journey. Growing up I wanted to be a clown, then a fashion designer, a therapist, and at one point at university, a commodity trader. I guess marketing, where I have ended up, is a mix of all four – entertainment, creative flair, human psychology, market research, and so on.

My educational background is quite a rollercoaster as well. I have a degree in Business & Economics, studied English Language & Literature, and went to a globally renowned Advertising & Communication School. Why only pick one subject when you can learn about a lot of things, am I right?

I started my career at creative agencies working with clients such as Nike and freelancing for Red Bull, then moved on to a global corporation where I worked with everything from large enterprise marketing to gaming, followed by an SMB PropTech firm. Now I’m in Venture Capital. At Antler, I have a role split 50% on UK marketing communications and 50% global marketing and brand management.

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

Of course! Take yesterday as an example, I opened my laptop around 11 AM, because some mornings are just horrendous, and I am widely known for not being a morning person.

I worked on a few global website and analytics projects, followed by a call with our global social media lead. Then it was time to switch my global hat for the UK one, planning and prepping for our next investor event where a few of our portfolio companies will be pitching.

After that, I took a break to watch the series Daredevil and eat dinner, and I ended my workday with a 9:30 – 10:30 PM call with a colleague in Australia, followed by some end-of-day admin and next-day prep.

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

Yes, flexible. As long as I am not disrupting a colleague’s schedule or risking their deadlines, I decide when and from where I want to work.

I am a firm believer in leveraging spikes of energy and inspiration to the fullest instead of “forcing” productivity – especially when I need to be creative. But of course, just like everyone else, I sometimes simply just need to get things done even if I feel like hiding under a blanket watching dog videos.

So, some days I work a more traditional 9 – 5 workday in the office. Other days, I hyper-focus between 7 PM to 4 AM – this would not be possible if it weren’t for flexible working. As you can probably tell from the above, I am not a big fan of routines.  

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

For me personally, flexible working is the cornerstone of a good work-life balance – or simply just balance. I can plan my work and personal life simultaneously and rarely have to prioritise one over the other.

Balance to me is when I have complete autonomy over how I plan my life. I know this is not a given for everyone, so I am grateful to be in a profession and at a company where this is possible. 

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

I sure have. Since a few months back, I’ve been on antidepressants, yet a mild dosage. A much easier solution to fix my brain than to start going to the gym regularly and eating healthy – I work smart, not hard.

All jokes aside, it’s important to not see medication as a defeat or as a sign that you are broken – sometimes, you just need that extra boost to get back up. Big shout out to all the employers and employees out there who are true mental health advocates and lead by example.  

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

Propaganda by Edward Bernays. It was published in 1928 and still holds a lot of learnings – no matter what your profession is. 

Funnily enough, I don’t consume as much media focusing on work or mental health as one could think, but I have days when I go deep down the rabbit hole (podcasts, YouTube, Wikipedia, articles, and so on).

The other day, I was reading an article about Wanda Maximoff. One article led to another, and two hours down the hole I was now reading about PTSD amongst US marine veterans. The internet is amazing. Strange, but amazing. However, for Marvel fans, this might make sense though.

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

Currently: TikTok. I am fascinated yet terrified by this app as the algorithm is insane. If I were 12 years old, I would have ended up being a flat-earther or something – radicalised by TikTok. 

I am also extremely sound sensitive (to the point where some sounds lead to physical discomfort), so I can’t live without my headphones. Which reminds me, I need a new pair of noise-cancelling headphones. 

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

A single parent. A nurse. A teacher. A lorry driver. Anything except another “self-made” CEO or self-proclaimed thought-leader on LinkedIn.

For example, my sister is a healthcare worker and used to work in care homes. It humbles me to hear what they need to do to achieve some kind of work-life balance and to stay mentally sane. Hence, why I have more respect for people like my little sister than those in my own profession (myself included).

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

My first thought was, “Don’t stick around managers who ignore, or can’t understand, the importance of good mental health”. However, this is not an option for everyone. Not everyone can just stand up and leave, because they have kids, bills, and mortgages. If you don’t agree; check your privileges. 

So the last thing I want to say is:

 “Listen up, this is a public service announcement: be the manager you needed when you were at your lowest”.

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.