Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Genevieve Cassan, Freelance Digital Marketing Manager

Genevieve Cassan is a freelance digital marketing manager, who has spent the past 10 years working in Canada, France and Australia across a variety of marketing roles.

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

I spent the past 10 years working in a wide variety of industries. From non-profits to SaaS companies, my roles always involved organisational and digital challenges.

I first experienced the agency life for a few years back when I was living in my home country, Canada.

Then I decided to move to Europe, where I worked for two different B2B start-ups for a couple of years before I flipped to the client side and started working at a much larger organisation.

Those 4+ years living in Paris were rich in learnings. Despite having the French citizenship from my dad, working in France has exposed me to a completely different culture and mindset. I

was living life in the fast lane, working long days and trying to keep up with an overcrowded subway and complex administrative system. Luckily, I was able to balance it out thanks to the country’s generous holiday policies.

I have since made the decision to move to Australia to follow a long-time dream and live a more reasonably paced life. In my current role, I continue to put into practice everything I have learned during the last decade while expanding my strategic and managerial abilities.

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

A typical workday usually starts around 6:30am when the alarm goes off, which gives me an hour and a half before I have to leave for work.

I start off by making myself a large bowl of latte, which I slowly sip while answering messages and calls from my family and friends that live overseas.

I also always make sure to have breakfast or grab something on the go because I like taking late lunches and the first half of my day is usually the busiest.

Once I hop on the train, I start checking my agenda and scrolling through new emails so I get a better sense of what my day will look like. That’s when I start ticking things off my daily to-do list! My mornings are either packed with team meetings, busy implementing campaigns, or both.

While people start going out for lunch around noon, I prefer to continue working as I concentrate better when the open space is less crowded. I usually eat out as I like getting some fresh air and a change a scenery; I need a proper break. I come back from lunch between 2 and 3pm and dedicate my afternoons to strategic planning, reporting and finding ways to improve.

Working in the digital space means I sometimes encounter technology issues and somehow those tend to happen towards the end of the day. The joys of helping to solve a problem at 5pm on a Friday! I’m sure a lot of you can relate!

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

All digital marketing tasks can be done remotely, therefore when the country was forced into full lockdown late March, my employer requested that most employees, including everyone on my team, work from home.

I adapted to this new routine almost immediately because I was already pretty used to it from a previous role. My first agency job was fully remote, which allowed me to work from anywhere. I’m someone who’s incredibly organised and I tend to be more productive when I’m in a cozy environment without any noise.

Working remotely allows me to sleep more, go for sunrise coastal walks without having to wake up at 5am, do home chores during the week, catch up with my loved ones more frequently, eat healthier, and so on. I’m a big fan!

My team was called back to the office last month and we’re now only working from home one or two days a week. Personally, my perfect balance is 50/50. I do appreciate meeting with my colleagues in person, going for lunch in the city, and getting out of my little bubble. On the other hand, I also think being able to work remotely is simply the best!

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

While I think it’s super important to enjoy what we do for a living, I regularly remind myself that life is not work. Life is a beautiful combination of everything we are and everything we do. It’s crucial to allocate some time to other things than work.

I have a deep passion for the world and learning about other cultures. I try to travel as often as I can. I run my personal travel and photography blog on the side and love writing down my travel stories, including details about what I did and the people I met along the way.

I don’t necessarily need to go very far to consider something a ‘trip’. In fact, every week or every fortnight I try to get out of the city and go somewhere new, whether it be a different city suburb or a national park, I just like discovering new places, walking in nature and meeting new people.

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

The last year has been a stressful and challenging one. Mid-2019, that’s when I decided I would move to Australia. I had no particular plan in mind, I just knew deep down that I needed something else. I prepared everything for the move whilst still trying to enjoy my last few months in France.

Then I set food in Australia for the first time in my life. I had no home, job or any friends at all. The day after I arrived, I was as determined as ever to make this work. My efforts clearly paid off because I quickly found myself a place to stay, a marketing job and some amazing new friends.

However, one of those so-called new friends is also known as ‘anxiety’. While I had obviously experienced different forms of stress throughout my life, that was completely new to me.

At first, I thought this was temporary and that I could cope with it, but my body started showing symptoms. I am now really careful, and I’ve integrated new habits in my life starting with drinking more water every day and trying to sleep 8 hours a night.

I also dedicate one day a week to doing something relaxing, whether it is reading a book, listening to a podcast or going for a walk, I really needed to slow things down.

Also, I take a moment each day to tell myself what I am grateful for and I stop to appreciate what I have and the people I am surrounded by.

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

There are so many! I wouldn’t know where to start.

At the moment, I’m reading an amazing book called The Culture Map by Erin Meyer which was recommended by a good friend of mine.

Erin Meyer is an American author and professor based in Paris. In this book, she talks about how people from different cultural backgrounds interact with one another in a business environment.

It gives amazing insight into how we can better collaborate with people from other cultures at work (and in life in general). Some of the information in this book was really eye-opening for me! I highly recommend it.

Aside from that, I religiously scroll through the daily photo newsletter from Aquabumps!

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

There are quite a few.

Being a tech nerd, it’s important for me to always have enough battery. I have a collection of smart charging devices (wireless, multi-port, portable, adapters, etc.) for my many technology products which I bought all around the world, meaning they all have a different plug type. I cannot wait for a world without wires!

App wise, I rely on Citymapper and Google Maps to get around. I’m also really starting to get used to Apple wallet which I find so convenient. I didn’t have that feature available with my French bank.

On my phone there’s also an entire folder dedicated to photo/video editing apps. Some of my favourites are: Lightroom, Unfold, InShot, UNUM and Canva.

Lastly, I truly couldn’t live without some social media apps, mainly Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger, which allow me to stay in touch with my loved ones.

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

Melanie Perkins, CEO and co-founder of Canva. I’m fascinated by the work she’s accomplished.

On another note, I always get curious to read about female CEOs and senior executives who also happen to be mothers.

Being able to successfully balance work and motherhood is something I aspire to do one day. I really admire all men and women who manage to be present for their family while still killing it at work!

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

Life is too short, make sure you’re happy doing something meaningful! (proudly brought to you by a millennial expat).

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This conversation is brought to you by McGing Advisory & Actuarial, your friendly go to team for expert insight to optimise growth for better outcomes.

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.