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Balancing the Grind with Kristy Lam, Head of Marketing at LiteracyPlanet

Kristy Lam is the Head of Marketing at LiteracyPlanet, an online literacy resource for students that has thousands of interactive exercises.

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

Absolutely! After graduating from Macquarie University with a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing I was confident about my career in marketing – that it was something I wanted to pursue. I dabbled in various different industries including an airline, media software solutions, government agencies and more. 

I initially had an interest in social media but later realised that I was interested in more – I wanted to be across email marketing, communications, campaigns, design, content marketing and the bigger picture of how to market a brand.

I felt myself asking the questions outside my marketing niche and I was invested in the strategy behind the various different projects. I also wanted to be somewhere that had a fulfilling mission that meant something to me and a place where I could have a little fun with the creatives and campaigns. 

Which is what led me to my journey at LiteracyPlanet. I believe all things happen for a reason and I am grateful for what has led me here. I started off as a Campaigns Coordinator and was promoted to a Digital and Campaigns Marketing Executive 6 months later.

I am still humbled by that jump, and 3 years later now – I’m managing the marketing team as the Head of Marketing at LiteracyPlanet. It’s truly been a fulfilling experience, I’ve learnt so much and I’m still learning! There are never enough lessons to learn in marketing. 

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

My days don’t always look the same. For those in marketing in a start-up, you’d know! Things are pretty fast paced in my role. From taking any last-minute requests from stakeholders to conjuring up a new plan or managing my team’s workload and ensuring I’m always as transparent as possible – my days could be quite unpredictable sometimes.

As a manager, I do dial into more meetings than most people I believe. Today I had about 6 back to back meetings? Leaves me some time to do some campaign and strategy work.

What I do keep consistent with my days is planning my day in time blocks using my calendar. I have each part of my day down to every 15 minutes planned and accounted for.

I do this at the start of my day where I spend 30 – 45 minutes of time blocked to “catch up and plan my day” – this is where I go through and action any important emails, prioritise any work and plan chunks of my day with the projects that come up. That way, I know what I can achieve and set realistic expectations.

One thing I will always make time for is my team – I like to keep the communication line open at all times to ensure they have the best support possible.

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

Funny you ask that – we have just recently closed our physical office and decided to get all employees working remotely full time. I believe this new wave of working remotely has done wonders for the work-life balance.

I love being able to finish work and stepping into my home immediately (avoiding the hours of public transport). Those hours we save could be put to good use – like a quick stroll before or after work, picking up some things at the grocery store or simply running an errand you couldn’t normally do when working in the office. 

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

Work-life balance to me is not having to work 12 hour days or more and being able to close my work laptop and truly disconnect from work when needed. It’s very much something I try to proactively balance.

For starters, I switch off notifications on my phone to emails and Slack messages – I only check when I am ready to. I would physically close my office door or step away from my desk and tuck that chair away when I finish work and I find that quite helpful. During lunch I make sure I’m not eating at my desk (as convenient as it may be), I make sure I take that hour break and disconnect.

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

I’ve noticed that I take the time to see my family after work since I’ve started to work remotely. That extra hour I get back has made a huge difference in my life after my job. I didn’t feel as socially drained as I would’ve been and I had the right energy and mindset to be the best self to see my family. 

Thanks to the flexibility I have in my role, I was able to start earlier and finish a bit earlier so I could spend more time running errands, walking my dog when it’s not too dark outside and seeing family and friends.

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

If you’re in marketing and if you haven’t done so already, I highly recommend subscribing to Social Media Today and Mumbrella. I often draw inspiration from those newsletters and get some great industry tips from them.

If you don’t know much about Australian politics but want to learn and find an easy way to digest it all, I highly recommend a podcast called Left Right Out. It’s run by two inspirational women called Elfy and Justine who explain Australian politics in a fun and lighthearted way (but still factual). 

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

My smartphone. My whole life is literally in that thing! I hate to admit it but it’s true. Work, life, social, music, content – where do I stop?

One tool that I absolutely take with me to every role I’m at is Canva – it’s marketing’s magic tool where I can get designs made and on-brand in a short period of time. It’s helped me finesse my design skills over the years.

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

That’s a great question! The first person that came to mind is definitely the very inspirational woman, Janine Allis. I know she does more than being a founder at Boost Juice, she’s got so many side projects running which she absolutely smashes.

Yet, she seems to be so grounded, and humble and she has the time of day to do extra things (I saw her as a guest speaker at a marketing and sales conference). How does it all happen?! I’d love to know.

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

Life is tough, don’t be too hard on yourself. You’re only human and you only have the same 24 hours every day.

Make time for self-care, even if it means it’s a walk around the block, stepping out to have lunch, ensuring you have a nice sleeping ritual or making time to meditate. It doesn’t take much time for self-care but not having that self-care in place would take a huge toll on your mental and physical health.

Also, here for self-awareness! If it feels like you’re not taking time for yourself, let’s acknowledge it and do something about it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – there are resources around you if you look around. 

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.