As Lippincott’s Senior Partner based in Sydney, Graham specialises in brand strategy, brand platform development, identifying white-space opportunities, experience innovation and analytics.
Let’s start with your background! Can you share with us your career journey and what you’re currently up to?
I initially aspired to be a diplomat but soon realised you needed to be good at languages for that (which I most definitely am not). Instead, I pursued management consulting, where I thrived in understanding what makes the cogs turn in businesses.
The job allowed me to travel extensively, but the work-life balance was non-existent with 16 hours work days and spending more time in the air than on the ground. Hotel rooms and airport lounges became my new home. Eventually, I was approached by Oliver Wyman to join their investment banking and asset management consulting team in Asia, which later introduced me to their brand and innovation arm, Lippincott.
Here, I learned from the best of the best to transform some of the world’s leading brands – including a leading Aussie super fund. Together with my colleague and the creative yin to my strategic yang, Dan Vasconcelos, we decided to double down on Lippincott’s commitment to Australian businesses and opened our first Sydney office in September last year.
We’d love to know what a typical day is like for you. Could you describe a recent workday?
Each day, my focus revolves around helping clients undergo transformative journeys through Lippincott’s distinctive blend of strategic rigour and creative excellence. To ensure optimal productivity, I begin by carving out substantial blocks of time to get a structure in place. Although each day brings its own unique demands, I notice recurring patterns.
Mornings are devoted to assessing objectives and engaging in strategic thinking, while afternoons are dedicated to task execution, meetings, and collaborating with colleagues. However, I hold Friday nights sacred and non-negotiable, reserving them exclusively for the highlight of my week – date night.
Can you define work-life balance for yourself and share with us your approach in maintaining it?
It’s effectively identifying rituals that work for you and keep you grounded. For me, this means starting the day with our dog, practising yoga, and having at least one coffee. I also have travel rituals, like unpacking after a trip, to help me transition back into home life.
Jiu-jitsu and mountain biking are great ways to switch off from work and refocus; they’re cognitively demanding, and the physical consequences are high. I also find seeking professional coaching is essential for leadership growth and personal development – finding the right balance is always smoother with a coach there to give you perspective.
Change is constant, and it’s essential for growth. Have you made any lifestyle changes in the past year to improve your work-life balance?
Making the move down under to spearhead Lippincott’s Australian presence has, understandably, been a big shift. My partner and I were excited to make the move for a long time, but it always takes a while to truly settle.
I’ve found mountain biking a great way to explore my new country (and New Zealand), as well as draw my attention away from work and take in the wider landscape. It requires both hands and a clear mind. So does creative consulting, when you really think about it
We’re always on the lookout for new resources! Can you recommend any books, podcasts, or newsletters that have helped you in your journey toward balance?
My personal catalyst for change was primarily rooted in the guidance and mentorship I received along my career journey. However, I am genuinely interested in the increasing emphasis on work-life balance within business academia.
Leading institutions such as Harvard Business Review (HBR) and Kellogg School of Management have well-documented the value of getting the balance right when it comes to productivity and performance – which I have found both fascinating and personally helpful. While psychological research has long explored work-life balance, it’s really taken off in the business context, and something the whole team at Lippincott tries and implements into our daily lives.
Shameless self-plug here but I’m also a big fan of Lippincott’s own podcast, Icons in the Making. Leaders from brands like Gucci, Morgan Stanley and Google share their recipes for success and how they make it work. Highly recommend it.
Before we wrap up, do you have any final words of wisdom or insights on work, life, or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
The best way I’ve found to keep my head above the water is by having multiple mentors. Whether that’s a coach, or mentors in and out of the consulting and creative industry it’s important to have diverse voices around you.
I’m unashamed that one of my mentors is 10 years younger than me, but asks very challenging questions. I’ve found that getting very divergent perspectives pull you out of the weeds of your work life and hone in on your real goals. It takes a village!
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