Balancing the Grind with Kinga Papp, Group Strategy Director at BMF Australia

Kinga Papp is the Group Strategy Director at BMF Australia, where she leads the brand strategy and qualitative research for ALDI.

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

My job is to get brands out of their comfort zone to create ideas that people will care about. This eventually results in business growth. 

I currently lead brand strategy and qualitative research for ALDI at BMF, Australia’s most effective agency. This role combines my three passions – people, business and creativity. BMF and ALDI have had a strong partnership for 19 years so I get to work with ALDI’s senior leadership on upstream strategy projects, not just advertising, which I really enjoy. 

My background is quite eclectic – I have a business degree, a journalism Masters and worked in marketing, advertising, digital, partnerships and PR. I often questioned whether I should’ve specialised earlier in my career, but this (relatively ad hoc) approach turned out well so far.

In the last 13 years I was lucky to work on interesting projects in the UK, US, Europe, APAC, Australia and New Zealand. I collaborated with 20+ brands so far including global giants like P&G, Shell, eBay as well as cheeky challenger brands like ALDI, Expedia-owned HomeAway and Three mobile.

I definitely couldn’t have predicted that one day my team will build a HomeAway house in the Eiffel Tower during the Euro Football Championship (and we did in 2016).

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

Retail is always busy but the last 12 months have been next level because of COVID (panic buying was just the beginning). Every day is very different which is part of the appeal. 

On a typical day I wake up at 6am and start the day with a dance class. After all, how could you have a bad day after a good boogie?

Regardless whether I work in the office or at home, I’m adamant about protecting at least 2-3 hours for uninterrupted work. I need to think and write fast and deep thinking rarely happens in that 20 minute gap between meetings.

Plus I enjoy getting lost in random rabbit holes and reading about any odd topic. Getting paid to constantly learn and be curious is one of the perks of the job. Another one is chatting to customers.

Since I also lead qualitative research, I work on some kind of research project at any given time. If we’re in the field I’d be moderating focus groups or going on shopalongs with real customers. This is often where breakthrough insights come from. 

The rest of the day is taken up by presentations and workshops with the ALDI marketing or insights team and agency partners. I also have quite a few internal meetings or working sessions with creatives, my strategy team or account management. 

I finish work anytime between 6-8pm depending on the day. I spend my evenings exploring Sydney with Giannis, my husband or our crew. Alternatively I’m lost in marathon video calls with family and friends from Europe, Canada, Dubai or Egypt. I don’t watch TV so this is my evening vice. 

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

BMF is very flexible and there’s a lot of trust. We’ve recently transitioned into a hybrid working rhythm where we spend half of the week in the office and the other half at home. 

It’s the perfect arrangement. I love working from home because it’s ideal for deep, focused work which is a big part of my role. This way I’ll also get to squeeze in an ocean dip before or after work. Absolute bonus! Office days are perfect for workshops and catching up with clients and colleagues in person. While we’ve come a long way with virtual, nothing can substitute a good office banter. 

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

I work four days a week at BMF and one day on my side project. Spinning multiple plates at once forces me to be effective – with my time, energy and attention.

It’s easier said than done and there are weeks when nothing is going according to plan and my projects bleed into the weekend. In this case, the best I can do is laugh. I love to joke around which lightens the mood for everyone, me included. Life is too short to take ourselves too seriously. 

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

Three habits have had a massive impact on my life recently:

  1. I dance my way into the day. Literally. I attend dance class most mornings which has been an absolute game changer. 
  2. I read a book (real one!) every night for one hour before bed. No phones, no distractions. Just me and a book. It helps me decompress 
  3. Working with an executive coach has really helped to set boundaries and priorities.

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

Reading (and listening to) books is my happy place. I don’t discriminate based on genre. As long as it comes recommended, I’ll give it a go. I usually read one non-fiction and one fiction at the same time so I have no excuse not to read in the evening even if I’m too tired/grumpy/lazy.

I’ve just finished Prisoners of Geography and The Goldfinch. I’ve been blown away by both. A friend and I swap books regularly but I’m always on the lookout for recommendations so if you’ve got something, hit me up.

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

Tech is a blessing and a curse. I spend most of my waking hours staring at screens so I need to counter-balance it with nature, the ocean and books. 

Okay, okay, I really couldn’t live without Google Slides, Sheets and Docs. How could we ever get by without them?!

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

I’d love to hear from people who 

  • have a side hustle and a full time job at the same time. 
  • who don’t work full time as a choice e.g. part time, own business, freelance. 
  • own their own business 

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

Learning to say ‘no’ is bloody hard. Yet it’s the most powerful way to create a life we truly enjoy. I’m still at the beginning of the journey – I’m a chronic “yaysayer” – but every ‘no’ takes me closer to a healthier work-life blend. So if I say ‘no’ to anyone in the coming weeks, months, don’t take it personally. I’m practicing.

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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.