Balancing the Grind with Lucielle Vardy, Group Head Experience Design at BMF

Lucielle Vardy is the Group Head Experience Design at advertising agency BMF, where she started working in 2019.

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

I got my keys to the industry at 21, and looked back more times than I can count, but have never managed to let go. I think the industry is an addiction unto itself.

I started at TBWA in South Africa. It was the era of Madmen and Madwomen and a brilliant time to be in advertising. I then worked in senior roles in Marketing at PlayStation and Virgin Mobile. I also ran my own consultancy for a few years.

My husband, my two daughters and I then took a leap of faith and moved to Australia in 2011.

I worked at Mindshare and have since worked at GPY&R where I would experience an amazing string of career highlights, Emotive (in a beach house based in Tamarama) and Naked Communications to join the ‘rebellion’.

In 2019 Naked merged with BMF, which is my current home and where I fill the role of Group Head of Strategy. I am lucky enough to work with some of the greatest talent in the industry.

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

Covid has reshaped my days over the last 3 months, but if I had to describe a typical day before that, this sums it up

  • The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.
  • Work, my passion and obsession.
  • Not nearly enough time with my family.

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

BMF is great for flexible working in genral, but I’ve realised that the environment means little if you as an individual aren’t disciplined in creating flexibility for yourself.

I’ve never been good at it but I am always striving to be more balanced. Covid has been a brilliant equaliser – everybody was ‘levelled’ to working-from- home, so the guilt attached to not being in the office sort of self-evaporated.

I think that point 1 and 3 that I raised in response to Q2 will change in the future as we all look to more flexible working arrangements, and it will be for the better.

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

A wise man once said to me that for every Yes you say, you’re saying No to something else. So I’m practising saying Yes to the right things to live a more balanced life.

Work-life balance for me is being able to give enough to my work so that it is best it can be, and giving enough to my family so that we’re connected and never feel like strangers.

Balance is internal too – feeling frantic, and like time is ‘doing you’ instead of the other way round, is not balance. Being able to listen, take in the authenticity of a conversation, enjoy fresh air, actually see people and the world around us- that’s balance.

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

Yes. I knew my lack of balance was destructive and had been for many years. In my case, it was self-inflicted. I think the important thing is I tried to change the narrative inside my head.

I had told myself for all those years that not working until I was done or until it was brilliant was failure. That nothing could wait.

Now I tell myself that today is not the only day and that that the small stuff is getting an irrational share of my attention- which helps me to redirect my energy.

I’m not sure if it’s the shift of time or the state of the world, but I’m also acutely aware that life is short, so we should really be giving more love to the big life stuff.

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

I love Brain Pickings. The articles are all so intelligently written and they’re generally not the same thoughts swirling around in the mucky echo chambers of our industry.

Personally I love poetry, so I like to read that to quiet my mind. I don’t love industry opinion pieces, I feel sometimes that we could rewind 10 years and literally hear the same stories we hear today.

So I recommend looking outside for inspiration and relaxation- documentaries about interesting people, movies, fiction – it all helps with perspective.

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

Not really.

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

Someone that works in an essential service- a teacher or nurse. I imagine their jobs create bigger challenges in the area of work-life balance, but that achieving it is essential – so I’d love to hear from these pros.

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

Be still sometimes.


And never ever ever lose your sense of humour.

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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.