Balancing the Grind with Liana Dubois, Director of Powered at Nine

Liana Dubois is Director of Nine division, Powered, a marketing solutions team to help advertisers stand out across TV, digital, publishing, and radio.

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

I run a division of Nine called Powered, which put simply is a marketing solutions team that has been purpose-built to help advertisers stand out from the crowd by grabbing hold of big marketing moments that are amplified across Nine’s suite of assets – TV, digital, publishing and radio.

Our ethos is to realise big ideas that make advertising famous. I’ve been at Nine for around seven years and previously spent almost 13 years at Network Ten in various commercial roles across sales, strategy and sponsorship.

Before moving to Sydney in 1999 to join Ten, I lived in Brisneyland and dabbled in marketing and promotions at B105 FM, part time, in combination with cutting my teeth on the retail sales floor of Figgins Holdings. Figgins was the holding group for Shoobiz, Midas, Mollini, Scooter and Emporio back in the day. That’s where I found my love of and obsession with shoes.

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

It sounds like a bit of a cliché, but no two days are the same. Nine’s business is so diverse it means I find myself in all sorts of different, sometimes whacky, conversations and places.

Marketing and media touches so many areas, it’s vast and interesting. I find myself in things like a conversation to understand the strategic plans of a brand with a CMO, working with Nine’s content and commercial divisions, finding new and more effective advertising options for our clientele, and chatting with Nine’s talent on upcoming events or activities or other musings.

Or researching strategic alliances that can add value to our model and vice versa. I also have the pleasure of leading a brilliantly eclectic team of very talented people who make all the magic happen.

While there is difference every day, the bookends are consistent. Each morning, my husband and I negotiate attending school (whether that was home school or the return to physical school) with Mr 8 and Mr 5. At night they negotiate with us over the bedtime clock.

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

I’m fortunate that my role has always allowed for remote or flexible working, even pre-COVID. Nine is a true supporter of flexibility, whatever that means to you, so I’ve been able to manage being a full time working woman, a wife, a mum, daughter, sister and friend.

I’ve always had the trust and autonomy to work from home, or arrive at the office later after dropping the kids off at school, or leave early to get the boys up to Summer 7’s training. COVID stepped things a notch though.

I have found an even greater balance through this time than I had allowed myself before. The result of that is my routine not being as formulaic as it was before. The days take a little more planning to make sure that work and home know where I will be on any given day.

Without that pre-planning I think communication would be difficult. Spending more time with my family and increasing the frequency that I work from home, I will maintain.

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

It’s a funny thing that phrase, work-life balance. My perception is that for some people it means to have everything in perfect harmony, every second of every day.

For me that definition simply is not real. The truth is there are days I’m a better employee, colleague, peer or boss than I am a wife or mother, daughter or sister, or friend. Then of course there are days I’m an infinitely better family member than a team mate to my fellow Niners. And that’s OK because every day is different and needs a different approach.

That, to me is balance. Being OK when one area of your life is dialled up over another, as long as you consciously shift between the dials and remember that everything in life is only a moment in time.

I talk a lot with other working parents and there is a really significant common thread. They feel guilty when they’re at work and then guilty when they’re at home. That’s just a no- win situation. It’s shit.

What the past few months in isolation have confirmed for me is that the common thread isn’t just true of working parents. It’s true of everyone trying to find balance. We all have a role to play in making balance truly permissible.

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

My family and I moved house earlier this year and we’re fortunate to live opposite Lane Cove National Park. It has beautiful walking tracks through the bush and so, completely surprisingly, bush walks have become quite a thing.

Those that know me well are just as surprised by that as I am. My idea of the great outdoors used to extend as far as the sunny corner of a restaurant courtyard. But it’s so peaceful in the national park, and if you meander far enough you find yourself at the water’s edge.

The second most surprising thing to me and everyone around me, including my husband Max, is that casting a line at that water’s edge is my newest favourite thing to do.

We stand there for hours, with Max and I in competition over the distance we can cast a line and the two boys clumsily trying to catch puffer fish with the world’s biggest and most difficult-to-control handheld net. It’s a good time.

Other than finding an affection for bushy things, I’ve also made an important tech change. The phone gets put away in a drawer before bed and doesn’t sleep next to my head anymore.

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

I’ll be honest, reading has never been a hugely favourite activity for me. Not even when I was a kid. I preferred my time spent creating artworks and doing craft, listening to music, playing with friends or absorbed in a movie or TV show.

That hasn’t changed much as I’ve aged, although I have expanded my repertoire a little. I consume a lot of news content, locally and globally, a tonne of marketing and advertising material, and the one and only podcast I listen to, quite randomly, is Joe Rogan after being badgered by Max.

I just finished reading Adam Ferrier’s Stop Listening to the Customer: Try Listening to Your Brand Instead – it’s a good read if you’re into brands and marketing. I’ve recently challenged myself to read The Big Ideas Box: Philosophy, Psychology and Sociology. I imagine I’ll be a while with that one, so can’t tell you yet if it’s worth the investment in time.

My all-time favourite book is one I read with Mr 5, Charlton. It’s called The Giving Tree, by Sheldon Silverstein. It’s a beautifully simple, lump in the throat life lesson. Have a read.

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

This is an interesting question because I think the things I can’t live without are probably the things I use quite subconsciously. So let’s start at the top of the day and run all the way through.

I definitely couldn’t live without my Nespresso machine. Or my air-pods. With thanks to the Buy from the Bush campaign I discovered an amazing business called Bare Body Beauty Co. Their skin care products and specifically the tubs of body scrub are incredible, but it’s the Salted Peanut Caramel Candle that I cannot live without.

Every day I use My Fitness Pal app to keep myself consciously aware (and honest) to my health and lifestyle choices. Being a TV and movie tragic also means I can’t live without 9Now, Stan, Netflix, Disney or Apple TV.

My love of music puts Apple Music right up there, along with my Marley Chant, and Sonos is also a mandatory. Oh, and lipstick. I go nowhere without lipstick.

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

I’d love to hear from New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and also from Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.

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

It sounds counter-intuitive in some ways, but actively planning for work-life balance is really important. Like all other plans it won’t always go according to how it was written and that’s OK, because tomorrow is a new day.

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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.