Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Lan Snell, Associate Professor in Marketing at Macquarie University

Lan Snell is the Associate Professor in Marketing at Macquarie Business School where she leads the Global MBA.

She is the academic lead for curriculum development, industry engagement, student recruitment, and the delivery of digital learning experiences for the Global MBA.

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

If we accept the literature that says we can expect at least 17 jobs across 5 careers, I’ve had about 12 jobs across 5 careers, so not far off the mark. I started out as a marketing professional, working in different sectors including appliances, publishing, and professional services.

When I started my family, I decided to leave my job to focus on my twin babies. During this time, I started my own consulting business, working from home around the needs of my young family. I took the time to reflect on what I wanted to do.

It was one of those rare life-changing moments where I asked myself “what is your purpose?”. I answered this question by drawing on what transformed me and the answer became clear: it was education. 

So I made a decision to switch to academia. I obtained my Masters in Education and my PhD in marketing. I am now an Associate Professor in Marketing at Macquarie Business School where I lead the Global MBA

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

This is a snapshot in time question. My current schedule is 2-3 days working on campus, the rest from home. I try to schedule in-person meetings when I am on campus. When WFH, I start the day with a run to prepare me physically and mentally for a long day sitting down with back-to-back virtual meetings.

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

I am the Course Director for a wholly online program – the Global MBA.

Launched in May 2019, the program is currently ranked #1 in Australia and #6 globally for online MBAs (CEO Magazine) and has been shortlisted for the Wharton-QS Reimagine Education Award for Best Distributed/Online Program for Nurturing 21st Century Skills

I use this as a preamble to my response because COVID has accelerated the digital transformation of the world and mainstreamed online learning.

Some of this was already in play pre-COVID (i.e. learners wanting to drive their own experience in terms of what, when, and how they learn), the need to optimise how we work and learn means we were already looking for remote/digital options. So I think these trends have helped us to adapt more easily.

Also, working or learning is about engaging with colleagues or peers who are located in different countries and time zones – this is the reality of our workplace today. 

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

It is hard to distinguish between office and personal time when the work/home environment is blurred, where the work vs social posts are blurred, and when working with colleagues from around the world throws out any sense of traditional office hours.

What is the “9-5pm” day anyway? Surely, this is a relic from the past? Balance to me means making strategic choices in terms of what areas to focus my attention on (this is not necessarily tied to what I am actually measured on, but what I believe to be important and gives me a sense of purpose).

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

What has increased?What has decreased?
Running (from 2-3/week to 4-5/week; averaging 30kms/week)Buying new things
Connection with familyWearing proper clothes and shoes
Time on screenMakeup
Eating and drinkingDoing my hair
On-demand entertainment (eg Netflix)Social interactions
ReadingGoing to the gym
Use of the ‘eye-roll’ emoji 

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

I ingest books. With a few exceptions, I do fiction to help escape. I look to suspend my disbelief by immersing myself totally in the book.

I only read physical books as I want to remind myself of the physical world, to get away from digital devices, and to smell the paper and actually turn pages. I get a sense of dread when I near the end of an exceptional book as I don’t want it to end.

My rule is to read the book before I watch the screen adaptation. Many books have made a profound impact on me. I’d be happy to share.

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

iPhone and Apple Watch. I’m over Air Pods as they keep malfunctioning (I wear them running and they are not designed for sweating). Other recommendations are most welcome!

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

Not a celebrity or anyone who requires activated almonds and a team of staff to cook, administer their life, and look after their children. Mostly interested in how people who do not have any of these privileges are managing. 

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

Work is really important and gives us a sense of purpose, but it is not everything. I’m curious about the concept of professional vs/and personal identity relative to life stage and circumstances and why it (and to whom) it matters.

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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.