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Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Maria Mughal, Marketing & Communications Lead at NCS Group

Maria Mughal is the Marketing & Communications Lead at NCS Group, a leading technology services firm, operating across Asia Pacific.

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

Origin story: I found my passion to help businesses grow through my Sports Science and Psychology gap year in university. I was hired by two ex-body builders as a sales assistant for their fitness chain.

I went on to top the company sales in the first few months, building their trust and confidence in me. They let me identify growth gaps and work to bridge them: ecommerce, website management, SEO, manage pharmaceutical buying to reduce active ingredient product overlaps, create and design sales enablement, and develop business strategy to enter untapped markets.

I went on to build deep skills in digital marketing and coding before I decided to carry on as a generalist. Over the years I’ve worked primarily in the technology space across various industries and Pharmacy/Pharmaceutical, Government, Real Estate/Investment Management, Architect,Engineering & Construction and EX/CX software.

I found my niche in terms of growth marketing over 10 years ago where I enjoyed roles which helped brands enter new markets and establish marketing in the region.

In my current role as Marketing & Communications Lead, Australia for NCS, my priorities are to  build brand awareness and business growth through marketing. I have built a local team and work closely with HQ in Singapore to help scale marketing operations. Other key projects include building our digital marketing operations for demand generation from Australia and brand strategies for M&A.

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

I love starting the day with a walk in the morning with a coffee listening to some music creating some headspace before I start my day. Once home I prepare for work whether it might be heading into the office or switching on from home.

I’ll then go through my emails and go over our project board and see what are the key things that we need to prioritise for the day. We usually start our mornings with a virtual coffee to catch up with my team if not will catch up as needed in a virtual room.

I aim to have all big meetings and complex tasks in the morning and have my lunch blocked off to ensure I switch off for an hour. Finishing off with emails, attending  meetings and preparation for the next day before I switch off.

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

Yes, NCS supports flexible and remote working so we have a mix of days in the office and also working from home. Needless to say, throughout the week I empower my team to manage their time accordingly, so they aren’t limited to 9-5. One other thing that I do with my team is that we try to do “No-meeting-Fridays”, so we can prepare for the week ahead and finish off work.

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

Work life balance means to operate at your “healthiest” best. 

Work 

  • I believe in working towards ensuring  your work is challenging but not impacting your health. 
  • Obviously soft skills such as time management are crucial and creating a happy work environment for yourself in your team is important. Ensuring the team operates with the right framework and support to be present and engaged in their work. 
  • Having clear OKRs that aligns the team projects and individual goals to the common business goals.

Life 

  • Every year I review my 8 areas of life in terms of how much time I’ve spent on each and then what realign my time/focus based on my goals. 
  • I have a 3 pillars of health I constantly work to maintain; 3 regular meals, exercise 3 times a week and adequate sleep or the 3×3 Method as I call it.
  • To schedule “nothing” time once a week by myself.

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

In the past 12 months I started putting more structure around my routine as I no longer had to work around getting to the office.

  • Scheduled morning exercise and sleep times – helped me to maintain a routine while we were coming in and out of lockdown. It provided me with consistency; prevented me from bingeing all night on TV series and warded off over-working  
  • One key habit that I also initiated was to start my day off with a walk regardless of whether I’m going to gym or not or something just to help me create headspace in the morning before I start my day. 
  • I was also practicing my 3 x 3 method I previously mentioned

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

I personally tend to look for new information from different sources, however at the moment I have been cycling between the following books:

  • The Change Book: Fifty Models to Explain How Things Happen
  • Humankind: A Hopeful History
  • The Six Secrets of Intelligence: What Your Education Failed to Teach You

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

  • Phone calendar – manage my time
  • Trello for work/personal projects
  • Digital notepad and cloud docs so I can work on the go regardless of where I am.
  • A mix of Apple and other digital health apps to keep on top of my health goals

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

  • Indra Nooyi – PepsiCo 
  • Pip Marlow – Salesforce  

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

For someone that has spent the last five years recovering from severe burnout – remember to put your health first. Our lives are getting busier and we can only simplify them by focusing on our priorities.

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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.