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Balancing the Grind with Penny Cordner-Maas, Head of Content at Luxury Escapes

Penny Cordner-Maas is the Head of Content at Luxury Escapes, one of the world’s fastest growing travel websites, with more than 3.2 million members.

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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 lucky enough to work in print and digital for businesses of all shapes and sizes. I was fortunate to land the Shelley Muir Editorial Traineeship at Lonely Planet straight out of uni.

This allowed me to hone my editorial skills, while also learning more about the broader publishing industry and completing my master’s degree. From there, I worked for a small travel and culinary book publisher in Melbourne, before moving to realestate.com.au, where I developed their sponsored content offering.

 I joined Luxury Escapes in January 2020 and was lucky enough to move into the Head of Content role in November 2020. It’s been the craziest few years to return to work in travel, but the industry is so resilient, and I can’t wait to see what its recovery looks like.  

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

 I am very fortunate to lead a talented, passionate and hardworking team of writers, editors, designers and video producers. A typical day could involve approving content for an incredible Maldives holiday package, driving creative concepts for brand-led marketing campaigns, or working with domestic and international tourism bodies to create industry-leading campaigns. Oh, and lots of meetings (both virtual and in person!).

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

It does! I grew up in Geelong and moved back here with my husband in October 2021. I am very fortunate to have the flexibility to work from Luxury Escapes’ South Melbourne Head Office, as well as from home. I am a people person, so I love bouncing off the energy from the team, but it’s also great to have focus time at home to power through my to-do list.

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

Work-life balance to me means committing 110% to every minute that you’re working but taking time to step away and enjoy life at the end of the day. We’ve all worked so hard for the past few years without taking proper holidays. Our work lives and our home lives have become so intertwined that it can be hard to separate the two.

I encourage everyone in my team to book annual leave, so they have something to look forward to! We could all use a little R&R or adventure outside our four walls.

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

Since working from home, I have made an active effort to take a lunch break as often as I can; it’s one of those things I often forgot to do in the office. But when my two gorgeous groodles, Maverick and Goose, look up at me with their puppy eyes, I am instantly guilt-tripped into taking them for a walk. I feel so refreshed after a quick walk and am ready to focus for the afternoon.

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

I am a proud fantasy fiction lover! Sarah J. Maas is the most incredible author, who creates truly believable worlds and characters. I could re-read the Throne of Glass series over and over (despite the fact there are more than 5,000 pages across the 8 books). Plus, it’s a strange but happy coincidence that my married name now matches hers.

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

My Kindle. Although I do love a hardcover book, there’s no way I could travel without my Kindle. Being able to search, download and read books wherever I am would have to be one of the greatest inventions.

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

I would love to read an interview with a fantasy fiction author. From what I hear, many authors become so immersed in their worlds, they forget to take breaks/eat when working on a book! As a huge foodie I can’t even imagine how that happens.

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

Don’t feel guilty when life gets in the way. I find that many of my team members feel stressed when a personal circumstance takes them away from work and they’re not able to finish something on time or deliver something as quickly as they’d hoped.

But I think it’s super important to remember that we’re all just doing the best we can. Some days this means delivering more, and some days this means less. We’re all human!

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.