Balancing the Grind with Michelle Wade GAICD, Director of Curatorial: Chocolates

Michelle Wade GAICD is the Director of Curatorial: Chocolates, a curated selection of the most indulgent craft and handcrafted chocolate in Australia, delivered to your door.

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

After starting my career in pharmaceutical sales and recruitment, I completed a Master of Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Human Resource Management, and landed a marketing gig with Chartered Accountants Australia.

I then held a series of corporate marketing roles including Executive General Manager, Marketing and Stakeholder Engagement at Healthdirect Australia. I left this role when I relocated to Brisbane and started my own marketing consulting business with a health and digital services focus.

Today I enjoy doing a combination of paid, sweat equity and voluntary work. This includes marketing and communications consulting, working with start-up RAISE DM on marketing their WHS SaaS solution, Board Chair and Director roles with non-profit organisations Brisbane Youth Service and Queensland Walks, and running a new ecommerce chocolate business, Curatorial: Chocolates with my business partner Bridget McDonald.

Curatorial: Chocolates only launched two months ago, so it’s been a hectic time developing the business and marketing strategy, identifying premium artisan chocolate, building the website and launching the business. I’m loving the variety of the work and being able to apply all my skills and experience to the business.

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

There is no sleeping in at our house, as our dog is an early riser and demands her daily walk at about 5.30am. I get my children out of bed and do ‘Taxi Mum’ duties with sport and school.

If it’s a Curatorial: Chocolates work day I head over to our home office to meet Bridget. We generally start the day with processing online chocolate orders and reviewing our marketing and social activity. There will then be a couple of meetings with suppliers or partners, some sampling of chocolate (tough job!) to identify new products to add to the shop and business development activity.

Around 3pm, I break from work and return to family duties with school pick-up, sport, music and dinner to be organised. I then jump back online later in the evening to finalise my day’s activities and prioritise for the next day.

Given I have a portfolio of jobs, I try to allocate specific days/time to each one so they get 100% of my focus. This doesn’t always work out if an urgent situation comes up, but overall I’m finding it to be the best way to manage my time and achieve outcomes.

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

I began working flexibly and remotely five years ago when I started consulting. I’ve found this allows me the time I need for myself and my family and maintaining this work style is a key reason for starting another business.

Being able to schedule work over a 7 day week, instead of 5 days, 9 to 5, means I can take time to manage household issues, attend school activities or assist my parents with things they may need to get done on a week-day.

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

My idea of work-life balance has evolved as I’ve realised that different aspects of my life will take on more importance and priority at different times.

I’ve learnt to take the long view and instead of trying to manage the balance on a weekly basis, accept that some weeks my focus and schedule will tilt towards work, and others it will turn towards family.

Overall, it balances out. Learning to say ‘no’ and delegating tasks that can be done by someone else, has definitely helped me free up time and work smarter.

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

At the start of last year and through the COVID lockdown my husband and I would begin the day taking our dog for a walk together. This was a great way to get exercise, and being outside in the fresh air always seemed to lead to having good conversations.

I’ve tried to keep this up and when my husband is away for work, I’ll walk with a friend, or Bridget and I start our work day with a walk together. It’s great for generating new ideas, having crucial conversations and working off some of the chocolate we are eating!

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

I worked hard chasing the elusive work life balance as a working mum in an executive role for years. One of the best books I’ve read that helped me think and do things differently was Pick Three: You Can Have It All (Just Not Every Day) by Randi Zuckerberg.

It really highlighted the importance of prioritisation for me. A podcast I’ve been listening to for some thought-provoking discussion and ideas on the future of work and working in a more human way is ‘Brave New Work’ with Aaron Dignan and Rodney Evans. Well worth a listen.

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

My Garmin watch for hitting my step targets and the Instagram app are both getting a work-out currently. We are in the brand building phase for Curatorial: Chocolates with a lot of activity happening on Instagram.

As most of my experience has been in B2B marketing, using Instagram to reach a consumer audience is new for me so I’ve been doing a deep dive on Instagram to learn everything about it. It’s my new favourite social media platform.

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

I’m a bit obsessed with entrepreneurs in the retail e-commerce space at the moment, so an interview with Kate Morris from Adore Beauty would be very insightful.

Taking an e-commerce business public at the end of 2020 was a brave and exciting thing to do. Having an online retail business can easily mean being on the job 24/7, so I’m keen to learn the pros and cons from others who have built strong brands and businesses.

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

As more people are working remotely from our homes, work will inevitably start to encroach on our personal time. This will either be through working longer hours or taking up our mental space when we are trying to do non work things.

As such, it’s good to find a routine or trick to switch off from work, so we are mentally available to give full attention to other priorities.

This may sound strange, but one of the reasons I like dressing for work at home in the same clothes as if I was going to the office (no active wear) is because when I change out of my work clothes, it’s a trigger to mentally switch off work and shift my focus to other priorities.

I’d encourage people to give it a try or find some other kind of routine for this.

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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.