Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Jenny Kong, Global Head of Marketing at Wirex

Jenny Kong is the Global Head of Marketing at Wirex, a digital payment platform with a mission – to make crypto and traditional currencies equal and accessible to everyone.

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

I really just fell into crypto? My first job was sales co-ordinating radio advertising for The Radio Bureau – a boutique agency that represented all the radio stations in New Zealand. I was fresh out of university, which naturally led to me ‘looking after the company Facebook account’. 

I guess that kicked off my almost 10 year tenure in social media! Worked for big media companies, small facebook lead-gen agencies – so when I made the move to London at 25 – I was ready to do something completely new. Something I couldn’t readily get a job back home. 

In 2017, my partner one day turned to me and said he was putting in a chunk of change in something called Bitcoin. I thought he was crazy but a couple of weeks later, a Social Media role came up in a small crypto start-up called Wirex.

The rest is history I guess! I’ve spent nearly 5 years there – now in 3 different roles – working from 2 different countries – and I’m currently their Global Head of Marketing based in New Zealand. 

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

My typical working day is actually split into two parts. I work hybrid hours so 4-5 hours on ‘NZ time’ normally between 12PM – 5PM NZT and then 4-5 hours on ‘UK time’ logging in between 8PM – 1AM NZ – exact hours depending on the day. I also then usually work all of Friday on ‘NZ time’ so Friday evenings are free

Explaining it or even typing it out seems a bit complicated, but it works for me and it seems to be working for the last two years for work as well! It gives my team a bit more autonomy as well, to be able to make quick decisions when needed. 

During my day, I make sure to take good breaks and productivity is highest. During my night, I do the bulk of my meetings with colleagues in the UK/US/rest of APAC etc. 

I always spend the first 15 minutes of my day reading through all the messages/emails overnight and creating a task list based on high-low priorities which I input in my calendar to keep things moving and I don’t forget! 

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

To be honest, it took a long time for me to develop a healthy routine trying to balance a 11-13 hour time difference. There were a lot of things at play like feeling guilty, a bit of isolation, over-working. And it was purely stemming from me and my Type A personality.

But eventually you work it out – you build your own routine to get things done and I’m very lucky that my current role allows for flexible AND remote working to a capacity. 

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

I guess for me it’s about being productive at work AND in life. Without work, do I have anything else I’m proud of? Can I be doing something else as well that I get real joy from? 

I work slightly ‘weird’ hours and have mostly given up monday – thursday evenings but for a lot of freedom during the day and the ability to ‘work from anywhere’. My partner also works from home, so we’re pretty portable and have travelled to many different cities/countries over the last couple of years. 

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

The kind of ‘turning point’ for prioritising mental health after I read this article on Zoom Fatigue. I was increasingly withdrawing from my friends, getting irritable with my partner and colleagues, and had trouble concentrating.

Zoom fatigue is feeling burnout after a long day (or weeks) of meetings. You always have to be ‘on’, your brain has to work harder to listen for cues, and then you need to fit in all your other work. At the end of the day, you’re exhausted. And have little patience. 

The article really helped me recognize this. So I made conscious decisions about meetings from then on. The joke stands true – could this meeting be an email? 

What’s also helped a lot is not having Teams accessible on my phone, not being able to reply immediately from while I’m at brunch with my friends on the weekend has done wonders for my mental health!

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

An oldie but a goodie – I loved Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the creator of Nike. The ending always struck a chord with me, and really started to have me think about how important work life balance is. 

Also just finished the podcast Sweet Bobby, a wild story to listen to when you unplug! NPR’s How I Built This is great when you need a motivation boost. 

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

Spotify, hands down. Oh and does UberEats count?! 

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

Really random, but full time Lego professionals (who build those incredible larger than life Lego structures) or Lee Gibson, the lead designer for the Air Jordan brand – am in awe of creative people who manage to find a balance! 

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

It took me so long to get over the ‘guilt’ and find an identity out of work. I used to think that the number of hours I worked equaled my worth to a company but luckily, I’ve had great managers over the years to shake me out of that to focus on quality vs quantity hours.

Better to have two high quality and productive hours than four low quality hours because you’re so tired. Never settle for a manager/company/anyone who tells you differently. 

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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.