Balancing the Grind with Kirsty Muddle, Managing Director at Cummins & Partners

Kirsty Muddle is the Managing Director at Cummins & Partners, a full service creative agency that includes media planning and media buying.

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

I worked in London for 8 years, Bahrain for a year and have been in Australia for the past 12. Mostly in communications of some sort, although Bahrain was a Management Consultancy project. 

In 2011 I became one of the founding partners of an independent advertising agency, Cummins&Partners. We have an integrated offer that pulls the faculties of the industry back together. I’ve had various roles in the Agency from Head of Strategy, Head of Media, Chief Innovation Officer, and right now I’m the Managing Director of the Sydney Office. 

I also enjoy contributing to the wider industry. I’m lucky enough to be given the opportunity to judge various awards and sit on industry boards and committees.

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

I get to work between 8-830am. We have a daily kick-off meeting. It keeps us agile, it’s an opportunity to make decisions and steer outcomes on a daily basis, but also support each other. 

It’s most likely I’ll have some kind of commercial conversation with our CFO, forecasting, be it debtors, funding for some kind of growth initiative or a pitch submission that requires commercial inclusions.

I’m in meetings most of the day. Which isn’t a bad thing. I like staying close to work. Sean Cummins (name on the door and CEO) is doing the work, still concepting and writing copy.

As a group of people, we like doing what we do, which is why we started an agency. I don’t write copy but I do get involved in strategy and media. I get a lot of energy from being in and around idea creation and delivery. 

We always stop for lunch. We have a big table in the office that everyone sits around. Lunch time is more than food, it’s social glue.

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

It does. We need time to play to aid curiosity, we also need time to play together to increase our social bond. We need both in a business that celebrates ideas and collaboration.

Most in the Sydney office come in everyday. Some four days and no-one is under three. I’m in everyday. That’s a choice. If I wanted to work elsewhere, like anyone else in the office, that’s also an option. 

We’re also flexible on working hours. I think that has the greatest impact on work life balance.

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

It means good mental health. Success shouldn’t be about how little leisure time we have. 

I’m accessible to work during a defined time (which evolves) and I make myself inaccessible to work related things at other times. That isn’t just physical, it’s mental.

In my 20’s I remember gloating to my parents about how many hours I would work (easily 8am – 930pm/10pm) thinking that was a symbol of success. 

I wouldn’t applaud that for my kids. And I don’t encourage it in the team. We applaud great work and good relationships.

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

Both industries are related! But I remain curious about the effects that advertising has on human behaviour and behaviour has on advertising.  

Brandsplaining: Why Marketing is (Still) Sexist and How to Fix It by Jane Cunningham and Philippa Roberts.

The Choice Factory: 25 behavioural biases that influence what we buy by Richard Shotton.

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

 I’d like to think I could live without all of it! 

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

Jacinda Ardern.

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

If you’ve found something that works for you, share it with others. 

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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.