Balancing the Grind with Juliette Stead, Senior Vice President, JAPAC at Magnite

Juliette Stead is a Senior Vice President, JAPAC, at Magnite, the world’s largest independent sell-side advertising platform.

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

I’ve been working in the advertising industry for 20 years. I think that the term serial career monogamist is actually the best description for me as I’ve worked with just four companies over those years.

I started out working at Dennis Publishing in the UK, then Hemscott, and went on to Channel 4 Television. In 2011, I moved to Australia, joining TVN as General Manager.

In 2015, TVN was acquired by Tremor Video, who two years later became known as Telaria, where I was Senior Vice President for APAC. Then earlier this year Telaria merged with Rubicon Project, to become Magnite. It’s been an interesting ride!

I’m Senior Vice President for JAPAC at Magnite, responsible for the entire Magnite business across Australia, New Zealand, Asia and Japan.

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

I live in Melbourne so not only were we locked down, but we’ve also been locked in. That’s made for some interesting challenges as I navigated how to merge the two businesses across the region when none of us could meet in person.

I try to get into my emails as soon as I wake up so I can catch up and clear anything that’s come in overnight from my colleagues in the UK and US.

Then it’s all about “Eva time” – my five year old daughter. We have breakfast and I usually get roped into some role-play about the Famous Five, ‘big school’ (she starts school next year) or, of course, Frozen.

Then it’s straight into back-to-back calls for the majority of the day, and tackling my to-do list. I try to wrap up around 6pm so that I can spend more time with Eva, who by that time will have morphed into a unicorn, doctor or superhero.

Then a family dinner, the usual bath time/ bedtime ‘routine’ (battle) with Eva, back to emails for a couple of hours (the UK come back online at around 5pm, and the US later in the evening), a cheeky episode of Billions, and bed where I read and hope for sleep. But accommodating different time zones means that my day can have very blurry edges and the occasional 3am call.

My levels of mum guilt are super intense now that I’m working from home during lockdown with kinder closed – it’s hard to lock myself away to work at home when Eva knows I’m there but inaccessible to her.

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

I’ve always been a big believer in creating a working environment that allows all to thrive, irrespective of their out-of-work commitments – so I’ve always enabled flexible working.

As anyone who knows me will tell you, I’m results driven and I expect my team to fulfill their potential, be ambitious and work hard – but I don’t think you always need to be in an office to do that.

Before Melbourne locked down, I worked from the office most of the time because I enjoy being around people and also value the change of scenery. I also travelled with work a lot.

When in Melbourne, I’d always make sure that I was home in time for dinner with my family. We have a lovely routine each night where we play a game of “Peak / Pit / Surprise” – talking about the best, worst and most surprising thing we have each experienced that day.

It’s a great way for us all to talk about how we’re feeling. I’d love Eva to grow up knowing it’s normal to experience a whole range of feelings, and to be accepting of herself. Let’s see if she still lets us play it when she’s 15.

Now we’ve hit daylight savings, my routines have been thrown out the window again as I juggle the different time zones that I deal with and the demands I put on myself for quick responses and calls. But that comes with the role.

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

I’m sure that some people create balance beautifully, and I would (somewhat bitterly and suspiciously) congratulate them for it. I’m not one of those people. I think sometimes you just have to figure out what you’re going to focus on, and recognise that you can’t do everything brilliantly all of the time.

That’s the theory anyway. In practice I know I’m very harsh on myself. During this ‘extreme’ time, my work and Eva are getting top billing. My poor husband and any sort of self-care are both somewhat neglected!

When I’m not in lock down, yoga, clinical Pilates, family, friends, great restaurants and travel are what sustain me. Pre lockdown I’d ride to a yoga class, then meet up with my husband and Eva for a coffee or lunch, and promptly undo the good work I’d done in the yoga class. While that’s a pipe dream at the moment, I still do the class virtually to help me feel mentally balanced and refreshed.

I love a holiday – something that refreshes the mind and body. Most of my family are in the UK, and I’d have loved to get over there this year, but right now I’ll be grateful when we can head up to the Dandenong’s for a walk in the forest, or down to Mount Martha to the beach. Anything that gets us further than 5 km out of the house!

I think I’m programmed to wonder if I’m doing everything well enough – I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m giving everything a bloody good crack and need to trust myself.

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

I could tell you that I introduced a Zen new habit but the reality is that in the last twelve months, everything pretty much went out the window and with it any idea of working on new routines or habits.

On the plus side, not being able to control things this year has forced me to let some things go and acknowledge that sometimes, “near enough” really is good enough from a personal work-life balance.

I’ve also come to realise that there is no constant state of normal. Life is constantly changing and COVID is another step along the way. I think we have to be kind to ourselves and adapt so that we go with the flow.

It’s now all about small wins. If I manage to fit in a yoga class in the morning I’ll take that as an epic achievement. If I can connect with a friend, then I’m killing it. Beyond that, I’ve decided I’ll wait until 2021 to work on some new routines and habits.

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

I love reading and my house is full of books. I can’t recommend any inspirational self-improvement or business oriented books though. I love fiction and believe you can learn a huge amount about people, the world and yourself from beautifully written literature.

My all-time favourite author is Iris Murdoch – an incredibly intelligent woman who was years before her time, and I’ve recently been enjoying Ali Smith’s books. I also loved the Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy.

In terms of podcasts, again, for me it’s fiction. The New Yorker Fiction podcasts are amazing – incredible authors read short stories written by authors they admire, and then discuss with the New Yorker’s Fiction Editor. Their intelligence is hugely intimidating but it takes you out of yourself and into a world of different (non-media/ad tech related) thinking.

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

With so much of my family and so many of my friends in the UK, plus with our recent restrictions here meaning that we haven’t been able to see anybody from outside of our household, I really value all types of technology that have enabled communication.

It can be difficult to find the time and energy for full conversations, but being able to connect with people – no matter how briefly – has been essential for me.

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

I generally really enjoy people being honest and human. I think if we all allowed ourselves to do that more often, we’d all suffer far less from imposter syndrome and a sense of inadequacy.

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

Try not to be too harsh on yourself. I believe in acting with integrity, picking your battles, striving for excellence and realising that nobody has all of the answers.

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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.