Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Gerard Richardson, Head of Brands & Campaign Marketing, Adore Beauty

Gerard Richardson is the Head of Brands & Campaign Marketing at Adore Beauty, an Australian online cosmetics retailer founded in 1999 by Kate Morris.

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

I have been in the Beauty Industry for a number of years now and specifically, a marketer in beauty. I have always had a passion for fashion and beauty (as cliche as it sounds) and discovered these amazing worlds from a young age. My grandparents ran a very successful shoe store for years in Auckland, so retail is in my blood. 

I began my marketing career in Auckland, working for Farmers (a department store chain across New Zealand, similar to that of Myer). It was here that I moved into my first beauty role and spent time working in the cosmeceutical industry. This well rounded beauty background led me to my first pure player – Adore Beauty

Having originally joined as a Brand Marketing Manager for Haircare, Makeup & Fragrance, I soon found myself as the Head of Brands & Campaign Marketing after some internal shifts. My current role is exactly what the title says – I manage a team of six talented people who between us, collaborate with our Brands & Merchandise Team to support and grow over 260 brands.

We’re all about working with our brand partners to bring their local strategies to life, in line with the overall Adore Beauty strategy. The other side is Campaign Creation & Management. Every campaign you see out there from Adore is developed by us.

I think of our team as a bit like the engine of Adore; everything passes through us and there aren’t too many conversations we’re not a part of. We work in what I think is one of the most exciting functions of Adore – external brand connection, providing us the opportunity to network and collaborate with people beyond our internal team. It can appear glamorous from the outside, but it’s a lot of emails and meetings to get the job done.

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

Meetings, emails and Slacks! Most of my day is spent in meetings – it’s a hangover from the WFH days when you needed to meet simply to talk. Adore Beauty has an incredibly flexible work policy, and are currently trialling a Compressed Work Week (CWW), so for us to get together to brainstorm or just chat, it’s through a meeting.

The introduction of CWW is really challenging us to rethink our work days and what is really necessary to get the job done. Most recently, we just started another round of Strategy Season – a time for us to meet with all 260+ brands to discuss plans for the next six months of the year.

It’s my favourite time where we all dress up and meet our brand partners face to face and review the year that was along with seeing what new product development is coming!

Again, it sounds glamorous, but to meet 260+ brands within about a 10 week period and still do your BAU means some early mornings and late nights. As I write this, I am actually up in Sydney where we are visiting our NSW based vendors.

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

Let’s be real, work life balance is bloody tough to achieve. It’s also different for everyone, we all have a different perception of what balance looks like.

For me, it’s all about enjoying what you do and setting some serious boundaries for you, your team and the wider business. Work is just work, it’s always going to be there and there is always going to be a new problem. The only thing you can control is your reaction and focus. 

For me, I’m pretty open with my team, they know that I will probably be answering emails and getting some briefs done in the evenings, they won’t be able to contact me before 8:45am unless it’s an emergency.

While it is a bit of a standing joke, my team also takes it seriously, which helps me set boundaries and create that balance. I believe work-life balance is all about setting boundaries and deciding what your non-negotiables are. It could be that you will never miss your lunchtime walk, or that you don’t check emails on the weekends. 

My set of non-negotiables are: 

  • Friday’s are a 5pm finish no matter what
  • 8:45am is the earliest you can book a meeting with me
  • I must have my morning coffee and walk whenever I WFH
  • I book personal focus time in my diary for deep work and can’t be interrupted in those blocks
  • I try to not work the weekends but if I do, only ever on a Sunday evening
  • Wednesdays are an office day for me so I bulk my social and collaborative tasks on those days 

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

Definitely! I am working to reduce my meetings, delegate more to my highly capable team and introduce some new rules to my personal life. HelloFresh has been a bit of a game changer for me, I wasn’t looking after myself earlier in the year and ended up quite sick.

I made a change and got back into the gym and started doing Hello Fresh as a means of getting me away from the desk and ensuring I had a healthy and balanced dinner. This has been a very successful technique for me. P.S I am not sponsored!

Additionally, I took advice from my bestie from NZ – she told me to ‘stop making daily lists of tasks if you were never going to cross them off.’ If the nature of your job is to facilitate others to get stuff done or maybe to problem solve (like mine) then you will never get to that daily list and you walk away at the end of the day feeling like you achieved nothing.

Instead, I now create lists for the week or simply just ongoing tasks that I know I need to do in a simple ruled notebook. I still get the thrill of crossing them off but I am not feeling disappointed that I didn’t get something done in a day.

Finally, I stick to the rules I listed above. It’s imperative for my efficiency and something I am a big believer in.

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

I am not a huge reader – I go through phases. However, I would say that I have some business leaders who I certainly take inspiration from for various reasons. 

  • Mary Portas – I cannot rave about her more. One of my biggest idols & inspirations – certainly someone I look to for a career journey. She is a lover of retail and what’s more, local retail. She has been responsible for turning some of the biggest retail giants around. AMAZING!
  • Anna Wintour – No matter what people might say or think about Anna, she has created an amazing brand. Not just Vogue, but her own brand – interestingly, the two are inextricably linked. Anna also isn’t afraid to be decisive, challenge others, and possibly be known for not always having the nicest bedside manner. I think that’s a great way to be – in a world that is becoming ever more PC and in trying to be less “label” conscious is just becoming more label culture, Anna isn’t afraid to tell it how it is – afterall, if it’s shit, it’s shit!
  • Jo Malone CBE – Jo is an amazing woman. I’ve only ever chatted to her twice on zoom, but she has the type of personality where I could walk up to her in the street and we’d end up having a cup of tea. She has a truly inspirational story and has created two incredible businesses and brands.

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

For me, I say don’t just look to one person for inspiration, look to many. The more voices you listen to and the wider you read, from newsletters to interviews, the greater your own world view and understanding of balance will be.

As someone with workaholic tendencies, work balance looks different to me than it does to others, but I find satisfaction in the balance I’ve created. Look to voices you may not typically engage with, or people from industries that may be far different to your own, because that’s where you may find some of the best words. 

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

Work-life balance looks different for everyone, so find out what it means to you and what your non-negotiables are, then stick to those. Don’t be the person who works 18 hour days but doesn’t actually get anything done, or who sits in every meeting, but never really says anything.

That’s not working, that’s just being ‘involved’. Work to live; not live to work! There’s only one life and you have to bloody live it well.

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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.