Interviews / PR & Communications

Balancing the Grind with Gina Daryanani, Senior Brand & Communications Manager at Airwallex

Gina Daryanani is the Senior Brand & Communications Manager at Airwallex, a global payments fintech transforming the way businesses move and manage money.

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

I’ve had 14 wonderful years in tech PR and communications, across three cities, starting in my home country, Singapore. More than four years ago, I decided to take the leap and move to Australia – first to Sydney then to Melbourne, where I am now.

Having international experience has exposed me to different working styles and cultural backgrounds, allowing me to build a global network of contacts and develop stronger communication skills.

I’ve most enjoyed working in high-growth start-ups, due to the immense opportunities to learn new skills, work on a wide variety of assignments and really make an impact. Not surprisingly, my fondest and proudest career milestones to date have been my stint at Grab in Singapore (Southeast Asia’s superapp), and now at Airwallex, a global fintech founded in Melbourne.

In my current role at Airwallex, I oversee the company’s communications in Australia, ensuring that we have a positive brand image in the market. I do everything from managing the development of brand assets, developing internal and external communication strategies to liaising with journalists to help the brand gain exposure in the media. 

However, my role isn’t focused on just Australia. I also work very closely with the global brand and comms team to support other international markets, and ensure that a cohesive message is conveyed throughout the company’s communications channels. 

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

Every PR person will tell you that no two days are the same – and it is no different for me. However if I have to describe a typical day working from home, it will consist of:

Staying on top of the news over a cup of coffee: I like to ease into the day by reading the news (online), running through my to-dos for the day, and with a mandatory cup of coffee (or two).

Creating content: I am most alert and productive in the mornings once I’ve had my morning caffeine boost. Hence, I prefer spending the the first half of the day on work that requires deep focus and strategic thinking – anything from writing a press release, byline, an internal announcement to a campaign plan. 

Connecting with teams: Most of my meetings start closer to noon. I have daily stand-ups with the wider global brand and communications team, where we discuss priorities in each of our markets. Managing a team of one in Australia, I also ensure I set aside time to check in with my associate to run through our to-do lists.

Throughout the day, I would be keeping in touch with my global colleagues across all functions on Zoom and Slack – for example, with the marketing team to discuss product launches, our brand designer to mock-up designs for new brand collateral, our partnerships team to discuss upcoming campaigns, or the founders and senior leaders to prepare them for media interviews. 

Managing media outreach: Alongside our PR agency, my associate and I also spend time in our day pitching news to the media, positioning our spokespeople as expert thought leaders  and looking for other proactive ways to secure positive coverage. 

Finding time to socialise and network: It’s important to get to know the people you work with every day. When in the office, I’d ensure that I catch up with my colleagues over coffee or after-work drinks. I also block out time in my calendar to attend industry events to keep connected with the wider ecosystem. 

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

Yes, absolutely. Airwallex has been trialling a hybrid work model for our Melbourne team, in response to both COVID-19 restrictions and the growth we’ve experienced through the same period.

Our Melbourne team has doubled in size and splitting our work days between home and the office allows us to continue that growth without needing to expand our office space immediately.

When not in lockdown, I tend to do two days a week in the office, which has been great for me. I enjoy being able to see my teammates for face-to face-meetings, and to be able to head out for an afterwork drink or dinner and catch up socially. 

I find my days in the office are energising but being at home lends itself better to focused work and I manage my calendar with this in mind. I don’t live near the office so I also appreciate the time back that would have been spent commuting. 

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

In today’s digital age where we’re connected to information all the time, and with the pandemic blurring boundaries between life and work even more, having set start and end times is no longer the standard.

I’ve learned to become comfortable with a blend of life and work, especially while working from home. For example, I might take breaks during work to run a personal errand or go for a walk, and on the flip side, occasionally return to work after dinner with my husband.

It’s also all about prioritisation. Work might take priority during certain seasons, especially during big campaigns and projects. However, outside of these peak periods, I make sure that I carve out time for my family and friends, and do not compromise on that.

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

Like everyone else, my life has been turned upside down since the pandemic hit early 2020. I haven’t been able to visit my family in Singapore for two years and have had to move my wedding party twice (I don’t even know if I will be third-time lucky!). 

As someone who doesn’t do well with losing control, 2020 was a very unnerving year for me. However, I’ve approached this year with more calmness and acceptance of inevitable change and uncertainty. I’ve started to live in the moment more. But to do that I’ve had to stop certain habits. 

For a long time, I have had a compulsive behaviour of checking my phone whenever a message (work or personal) pops up on my screen. It became a reflex action – no matter where I was, what I was doing or who I was with – I’d automatically look at my phone when I felt a vibration.

While I can’t confess to having dropped it completely, I have put in place some ways that have helped me draw boundaries, such as turning off notifications (and even vibration mode) for certain parts of the day. I’m also conscious of checking my phone just a few times a day now – and when I do, it’s intentional, not impulsive.

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

I recently bought The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down: How to be Calm in a Busy World written by Zen Buddhist teacher Haemin Sunim. It is a great book full of inspirational short poems and messages that address the anxieties from today’s fast-paced world.

This is one of my favourite messages:

“We know the world only through the window of our mind.

When our mind is noisy, the world is as well.

And when our mind is peaceful, the world is, too.

Knowing our minds is just as important as trying to change the world.”

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

There are a few obvious ones, such as my coffee machine for sustenance, my phone and instant messaging apps for keeping connected with my family and friends in Singapore, and Spotify / YouTube for tunes. 

I recently purchased a Nintendo Switch to occupy myself during the latest lockdown in Melbourne.

It has provided hours of endless fun, but more importantly, an opportunity to spend 1-1 quality with my husband, completing games together and having lots of laughter along the way. Immersing myself in the experience is also the perfect way to switch off (pun intended) after a big work week.

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

I don’t know if there is one singular person that I would look to. I take away advice and inspiration from so many people. 

We have a robust women’s network at Airwallex and have the opportunity to hear from strong female leaders internal and external to the business in this forum. I have taken something away from each speaker as well as from books, blogs, Instagram (Arianna Huffington’s @thrive), my family, my friends and my peers. 

Some tips have worked for me and others haven’t. At the end of the day, we all need to determine what works best for ourselves, our families, our wellbeing.

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

Don’t feel pressured by what society’s definition of success looks like. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that it’s time we calm down and slow down. We don’t have to do it all at once or beat ourselves up for not having done enough. 

Social media can also be a trigger. Seeing how much and how well everyone else seems to be doing can often create self-doubt. Take a (short) hiatus from social media if you find that you’re constantly measuring yourself against the people you follow. I certainly do!

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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.