Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Natalie Ng, Regional Marketing Manager APAC at Wrike

Natalie Ng is the Regional Marketing Manager APAC at cloud-based collaborative work management platform Wrike, where she is focusing on building brand awareness.

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

I’ve been really fortunate in my career to work on global brands with diverse target audiences and unique needs.

Helping to shape the strategy and marketing vision for these brands, along with various campaigns to help bring that vision to life, has been frequently exciting, sometimes exhausting and always interesting. 

Over the past eight years, I’ve worked with BMW, global digital marketing company Exponential and the iconic Aussie brand, Peter Rowland. 

Now, I’m at Wrike. Heading up marketing across the APAC region, I focus on building brand awareness and developing the company’s mission to help all teams achieve their best work using the most versatile collaborative work management platform. 

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

In summary, this is my work day: 

The mornings are for coffee and contemplation, and the afternoons are for ideas and intelligent conversations. Every day, I like to think about new concepts and fun things to help me and the work that I do grow.

As for the in-betweens: 

I’m in conversations with different colleagues across the globe—mornings are usually for the Americans, the day time is for my Aussie and Japanese colleagues, and later in the evenings are for my Russian and Irish team members.

Different hats for different times of the day. I hope I speak the right languages, at the right time! 

With the bulk of my work, I find myself in my online office, our Wrike platform—creating and executing new projects with my virtual colleagues. We constantly push the envelope and look for new opportunities to expand our presence in the region. I thrive on how dynamic my work is, and it keeps me motivated. 

For when I log off: 

I have a hard-stop for work at 7pm, at the latest (and also because it’s dinner time). I switch off and am present for anything personal. 

Dinner time is sacred. Not only because I am an avid foodie, but also because food gathers my family and friends and it’s time for us to connect. I’m lucky that my fiancé does most cooking so dinner’s usually ready for me, but if it were left to me, every meal would be pasta—I was probably a nonna in my past(a) life.

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

With our friend Covid-19, I’ve found myself well into my role, completely and only remotely.

Since four months ago, I was on-boarded, started and will be continuing working from the comfort of my townhouse in Melbourne (for the foreseeable future). I have only stepped foot into the office once for my original interview at the start of 2020, and have not met any of my colleagues face-to-face! 

This experience has been quite surreal as I have yet to work remotely for an extended period of time. This also comes as an interesting challenge as I’d like to think of myself as an extro-introvert. I usually thrive off energy in the office, and I love being in the thick of it. I haven’t had the chance to have a drink (love a good vino) with the team!

However, the quiet has allowed me more time to onboard at my own pace (it can be quite crazy at the start of any job!) and really gain insight into how to plan for my role and understand the inner-workings of it all, without any distractions. 

I am also very lucky as it happens that the company I am working at, has built a world-leading product that fosters remote working and allows me to work anywhere, anytime. So from a work and flexibility perspective, I have it easy!

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

It is very important to have a good work-life balance—I believe it makes all the difference! It influences how well you do at work; how happy and content you are with what you’ve accomplished. All of which in turn builds your persona and how you are perceived.

It’s easy to get stuck into work and continue until you’ve burnt out. But this benefits no one, and especially not you in the long run. Everything needs to be sustainable. 

Work wise, where I find it’s a little tricky for me is having global colleagues who work at different times of the day. But I make sure that I take no compromises to keeping a good work-life balance.

Each day, I think a person is only really productive for about five hours. That’s why I like to take breaks as and when I need it. When I’m working, I like to focus on a good idea, and work on that. Push the admin heavy tasks towards a “dead or low” period where you can’t seem to get inspired.

Aside that, I always try to go for a walk each day at Carlton Gardens, be it even for 15 minutes. Melbourne weather can be cruel but when it shines, it’s glorious! I read somewhere, sometime, that looking at greenery calms you.

I also have guilty pleasures to reward myself after a day’s work—be it watching a couple of episodes of reality TV like the Real Housewives, having my favourite doughnut dessert from Shortstop, or catching up on the news to see what’ll impact my ever-changing wedding plans next (thanks Covid-19).

It’s important to switch off from work and enjoy once you’re done for the day—you’ve earned it.

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

Since we hit iso-life, I do notice I’ve started to reflect on my day more (also because there might not be much else to do at home in lockdown). Each day I:

  • Give myself a couple of minutes thinking of my accomplishments for the day and an imaginary pat on the back
  • Spend another few minutes to let go of issues that are out of my control and 
  • Dedicate another couple of minutes to think about what I need to do tomorrow

I wish I had the patience to do this sitting still and meditating, but unfortunately that isn’t me. I find myself reflecting when I’m doing some house chores or online shopping. But it really gives me a chance to finish the day. It helps me feel grateful for today and excited to jump into tomorrow.

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

I much prefer video over books so I can’t really comment here. But I do find myself actively searching and attracted to learning about new creative and inspiring things.

This could range from anything from a Superbowl ad, to a new philosophy by Simon Sinek, or the new Kylie Jenner collaboration. I like to understand how people connect, be it to an ad, a brand, or to each other. It’s all interesting! 

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

I often joke with my fiancé and tell him I could live off the land, without any internet, without any people, on an exotic island. 

But if I didn’t, I’d need it all, especially my iPhone, it has it all:

  • Instagram for my daily browse 
  • LinkedIn for inspiration on new business ventures
  • Wrike, my single source of truth for work
  • Slack, because we don’t have time for emails
  • WhatsApp, because it connects me to the world
  • Pinterest to get some inspiration for my new wedding theme (it’s ever-changing)
  • Netflix and Hayu for my guilty pleasures

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

To be honest, I am interested in hearing any stories that help us be better versions of ourselves. If I really had to pick someone, I would say Anna Wintour — just look at her success, the influence, the people, the ever-changing industry, the stories. 

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

It’s a fine balance, and a different process for everyone.

  1. Feel content. With what you’re doing and the direction you’re moving.
  2. Be present. Prioritise and listen.
  3. Be curious. Keep things interesting and make yourself want a zest for work and life. 

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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.