Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Matthew Robinson, Vice President, Marketing, APJ at Contentsquare

Matthew Robinson is the Vice President, Marketing, APJ at Contentsquare, a leading digital experience analytics platform.

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

My career as a tech marketer kicked off over a decade ago in the UK and I’ve never looked back since. I find the pace of development in the tech space incredibly fascinating and also a healthy challenge. 

I have been genuinely curious about how brands are evolving their approach to CX in the digital space, and found that Contentsquare filled an unmet need. We provide brands with actionable insights to understand the human emotions behind what makes online users click. Ultimately, we are helping build more human online experiences for everyone.

My role at Contentsquare has taken me around the world – from the UK to Northern Europe and the Middle East and since 2020, Asia Pacific and Japan. I now lead 360 degree marketing for Contentsquare in the region, based out of sunny Singapore.

I really enjoy the challenge because Asia is such a different beast, because the region is made up of such diversity and hence requires a tailored approach to navigate the different time zones, languages and challenges. 

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

One of the best things about my role is the vast scope for trying out new things, which makes for exciting, varied days. Contentsquare has been around for 10 years but I love how the company’s culture still emphasises innovation and experimentation. 

We still operate with the agility (and enthusiasm) of a startup, allowing all teams the unique opportunity to make an immediate and lasting impact. There continues to be so many new learnings and every day is a unique blend of working on high level strategy right down to the weeds of execution. 

Today, I am in Tokyo to onboard a new hire with a few of my regional leaders. We started the day with a kick-off call with a reseller in Japan, followed by a budget discussion. After lunch, the team spent more time onboarding our new team member.

We started bringing in-person events back to the region this year, so we had a deep dive to discuss the pipeline of events for the rest of the year. At the end of the day, we went out as a team for sake, underground ramen and explored the city – definitely an upside of having teams around the world.

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

Flexibility is a key part of how we work at Contentsquare. There is a lot of recognition that the rigid 9 to 5 is no longer realistic. The company treats staff as adults, and respects that we all have personal lives outside of work that are equally important.

For me, it’s pretty simple. So long my team members deliver – it doesn’t matter to me whether they’re at the office, at home or on a sunbed in Bali. Ultimately it boils down to trust, accountability and communication – and I think it’s been working very well so far. 

For me, having the flexibility to extend work trips and holidays through remote working has been a huge boost. I can spend a week travelling in Cambodia, followed by a week of working remotely.

It lifts my productivity as an employee and demonstrates trust from the organisation, that we can deliver work and results from anywhere. That said, I am also a huge advocate of face to face interactions – there are some conversations that just don’t work on Zoom.

So balance is key – some days we need our space and some others, we’re sat in a meeting room hashing out details, getting things done and then going out for beers after. 

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

Having a sense of ownership and being accountable is important to achieve work-life balance. When you’re provided the flexibility, it can get quite tricky to navigate the separate work and life areas.

I find that it helps to stick to core hours – whatever those may be for the individual – and at the end of those hours, switch off your laptop to signal the workday is done. The practice goes a long way with the act of separating and allows you to clear your head when you are away from the workspace. 

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

I have decided to be more strict and protective of my calendar. My role requires a lot of interactions with global colleagues in different time zones so I’ve picked a day of the week where I will work late and schedule all late calls on the same night. 

I’ve also become more intentional about accepting meeting invitations. It’s good to have clarity about your role in each meeting and questioning if you are needed. I certainly don’t need to be part of every decision-making process and have been able to minimise time commitment to meetings that way.

I’ve also turned off email and Slack notifications on my mobile phone. I started organising apps on the phone so the work apps are located off the home screen and are harder to access. This helps again to make sure that I am protective about the time outside of core work hours and I’m not constantly in work mode.

I’ve started a new initiative with my team called the 5%, where I’ve encouraged everyone to block off 5% of their working hours (so about 2 hours a week) to go offline and focus on non-work related activities.

This could mean going on a bike ride and listening to a podcast, reading articles by the pool or participating in a workshop. The idea is to inspire creativity and encourage personal development outside of work. The team then comes together at the end of each month to share learnings. 

Social media is a distraction so I am quite disciplined about limiting my time daily on it. I find it’s much more rewarding to spend downtime on apps like Duolingo, which I am using to learn Spanish at the moment.

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

The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett – he’s got an amazing rotation of guests from different backgrounds and it’s always interesting to hear from different perspectives.I am also a fan of Blinkist which delivers audio and text summaries from bestselling nonfiction, which really helps when I’m time-strapped to read every single book I want to.

I did read Boring2Brave by Mark Choueke, which shows how B2B marketing can be done differently and influence strategy and results. Mark’s a former editor of Marketing Week magazine and the book is a stellar read for all B2B marketers. Disclaimer – he is also a good friend and I might have contributed some ideas to the book!

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

I’ve recently started wearing an Oura smart ring. It tracks a variety of health metrics such as steps, calories, sleep, body temperature and heart rate. I’m a stats nerd and I like tracking these numbers, plus I find it motivates me to hit my daily activity goals. It’s like living a video game, but in real life.

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

There’s a ton of great podcasts out there covering the work-life habits of various people, to be honest, seeing a write up of someone like (the fictional character from The Office) David Brent would definitely get my attention. 

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

Great ideas typically happen outside the workspace. 

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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.