Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Emily Turner, Marketing Director at Vira Health

Emily Turner is the Marketing Director at Vira Health, the company behind Stella, an app that supports women through menopause with personalised treatment plans.

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

I am the Marketing Director at Vira Health, the company behind menopause relief app, Stella. I’m part of a team delivering better menopause care to help women manage their symptoms.

My interest in words began at art college after work experience at the local newspaper. I studied newspaper journalism and joined a business publication, Lloyd’s List, which had hardly any young reporters, let alone women. I had no contacts, knowledge or experience and it was really tough to begin with. I often felt like giving up. 

Since then, I’ve worked across 30 different industries and drawn on that first job experience repeatedly when thrown into the deep end. I reassure myself that the answers are always there if you ask the right questions and research your arse off.

I’ve worked in many places where the position hasn’t existed before and used to feel envious of friends who walked straight in with a manual on how to get going. Now I understand that I love shaping the role and figuring out how it could work.

I’ve never had a career plan and most roles have come my way by word-of-mouth. I feel lucky I’ve seen marketing and communications from the perspective of a journalist, in-house and agency side, from start-ups through to global companies.

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

Ten years ago, I had little time to get ready before the onslaught of nursery and school runs before work. I don’t have to do that anymore and take my time savouring a calmer morning routine.

I look after my energy levels throughout the day after sleep became a problem and confidence waned due to perimenopause. Hormone replacement therapy, a regular bedtime routine and walking more got my mojo back and eased the sleep disruption that left me feeling depleted.

I am a night owl by nature and force myself to go to bed around 11pm and wake at 7am.

I read the news in bed until 8am and get dressed. I try to wear bright colours to lift my mood – it’s a serious dopamine boost first thing.

I start work just before 9am and eat my breakfast while catching up on the day’s tasks. We have a daily team stand-up to set the priorities for the day. I support multiple teams – product, marketing, commercial and operations – but I love figuring out how to balance it all.

I used to work through my lunch hour but now I go for a walk along the beach, no matter what the weather is doing. If I don’t do this, I lose concentration mid-afternoon and have no energy at the end of the working day.

I get into my flow around 3pm and work until 7pm, when the workplace becomes quieter. At the end of each evening, I write down my priorities for the next day, eat dinner and go for another walk. 

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

My role at Vira Health is remote, although I meet up with my team every couple of months for a day in the office so we can brainstorm together. The whole company gets together for a few days every quarter too.

I am used to managing a remote, worldwide team and setting up processes that work across timelines and can adapt to different working styles. In my last role, my team was spread across Europe, the USA and Australia and some of those colleagues I never met in person during the five years I was there.

I’ve been working remotely since 2014 and built an office in the garden a few years ago. It was the best thing I’ve ever done to separate work from home life – it gives me a quiet space when the family returns home in the late afternoon.

I can’t imagine going back to full-time, in-office work again. The beach is a large part of my life and I can’t imagine not being able to hop down there for a break.

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

I believe a good work-life balance is where both parties are getting what they want and neither is taking too much consistently. The workplaces where I’ve been happiest are where I am allowed to manage my time because I am trusted to get the work done.

This means I can see my doctor or dentist, go to a parent’s evening or get fresh air without feeling guilty and over-watched. I’ve noticed that the more flexible a workplace is, the more flexible the workforce is when a little extra is required.

I found work-life balance a challenge when I was a crisis communications consultant, on-call 365 days a year and carrying a passport with me all the time. Crises have a habit of happening on special occasions and you are constantly on edge, planning for a possible call-out.

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

Before Covid, I walked very little – about 1,500 steps a day down to my home office and around the house. Only when I was restricted from going out during the pandemic did I really want to walk more – it’s funny how the brain works.

I began to walk during lunch and after work, building up to 10,000 steps a day pretty quickly. I participate in virtual walking challenges to make my usual loops even more exciting, from walking up Everest to around the Scottish Highlands. I have realised that taking that lunch walk doesn’t make you less productive.

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

I love podcasts and listen as I get ready in the morning or around the house. The Tip Off is a favourite as it goes through the complex steps of investigative journalism. From Windrush to the Post Office scandal, some journalists have made their investigations their life’s work.

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

I use the Planta app to keep all my plants alive at home. It’s got a bit out of control and I’ve got nearly 60 to look after! I’ve gone from being a plant murderer to a nurturer in 18 months. 

It goes without saying that the Stella app helps me with my menopause symptoms, especially the SOS section with guided meditations.

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

My grandad Dick Denney. He invented Vox amps, the Wah-Wah pedal and the Continental organ. He was always soldering circuit boards and buzzing with creative ideas but knew how to enjoy life. I think he’d be so excited about apps that could replicate the sound of all his inventions!

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

I worked four days a week for a few years and did something creative on a Friday. I tried creative writing, pottery, screenprinting and embroidery. It is a wonderful way to relax and energise yourself.

Even though I am now full-time, I try to make sure that I do something fun every week and am a member of the Society for Embroidered Work and the Profanity Embroidery Group. A creative outlet outside of work always helps spark ideas when I am back at my desk.

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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.