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Balancing the Grind with Peter Cornelius, Managing Director at Ebiquity ANZ

Peter Cornelius is the Managing Director of Ebiquity ANZ, an independent, marketing and media analytics consultancy, with offices across the world.

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

I left school and went straight into an advertising agency, and have spent my whole career working across the media/advertising sector. You didn’t need a uni degree in those days like you do today.

I love the industry and am very passionate about the role it plays. If you are willing to work hard; play to your strengths; have great people around you and deliver what you say you will do, then you can have a very successful career and enjoy a great level of job satisfaction.

My career spans three interrelated stages or sectors. Spent many years in ad agencies, most notably George Patterson Bates, in its day, the largest and arguably most successful full service agency in Australia, and from this, Zenith Media was born.

Zenith was the first of the global media agencies to form and specialise just in media by breaking away from the full service monolith that GPB was in its day.

I was one of the Zenith founders in Australia and became Managing Director and Chief Trading Officer – a great time to be working in media and such an exciting evolution of a new service offering that laid a foundation for the media agencies today.

The second stage was 10 years as Managing Director of Nielsen Australia and NZ heading up all their media related services – audience ratings for TV and radio and then online, AdEx ad tracking/and monitoring services, consumer and media view (single source media, product and lifestyle database).

Finally, the consulting sector where after working for myself for several years, I joined Ebiquity five years ago and am now the Managing Director of Australia/NZ.

Working directly with marketers, many of them some of the largest advertisers in the country, we operate as their independent and trusted advisor helping them to navigate through today’s complex media landscape and to assist them optimise their media investments and how they work with their media agencies by ensuring they are accountable and delivering the very best outcomes.

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

They are all different but always start the same. The day kicks off with a quick check of the overnight emails – being an OS based company there are always some, then it is a walk – every day.

Brodie (our almost 12 year old cross Labrador) and I have a 40 minute walk/stroll around our neighbourhood for me to contemplate the day ahead and for Brodie to sniff the same trees as the day before and if we see one of her friends, to smell a certain part of their body.

I find it a great way to start the day, clear the mind, get some exercise and to prioritise what needs to be done.

As for the day, if I take yesterday as an example (in the office):

  • 8.30am – email responses
  • 9.30am – Management meeting to review current projects, part face to face and part virtual
  • 10-12noon – prepare new business proposal for 2021 (looking good)
  • 12 noon – Zoom call re a review for a client presentation
  • 12.30pm – quick lunch at the desk
  • 1-2pm – finalise content for an important global call that night
  • 3-4pm – final run through and cross-check of content re the global call
  • 4-5pm – internal meeting (Zoom) re latest market inflation forecasts
  • 6pm – early dinner
  • 7-8.30pm – global presentation (with UK and APAC) re 2021 budget/strategy

A full-on day but a good one.

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

We’ve been back in the office (Sydney based) on a staged basis for the last month. Operating in two teams and alternate weeks, most days we have about 25% of our people in.

We’ve left it to our people to make their own decision as to how often they come into the office and whatever they are comfortable with. I personally prefer to be in the office and I’m fortunate to not live far away, so can easily do both but prefer the office for work and home for pleasure.

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

It is something I am very conscious of but at times struggle with. My daily walks are great and I play tennis twice a week and really try not to work on weekends, but we’ve had so much on over the last few months it has been a challenge. The other difficulty is the after work OS phone calls – we always seem to be the ones having to take calls at night.

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

During lockdowns I found myself not exercising enough so am trying to get back into a more balanced routine.

I’m also conscious of not over doing it on food and alcohol. I try and not drink during the week but come Friday night, and the computer is shut down, that first beer is like nectar of the gods.

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

I’m a media junkie so read all the main daily trade newsletters to stay abreast of what is happening. I also am an admirer of Paul McIntyre’s Mi3 weekly media podcasts. Paul is one of the better industry trade journalists around and most weeks have some really interesting guests.

Outside of that, I love a great thriller to read so looking forward to having a relax over the Xmas/New Year break and for broadcast, into most sports.

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

Like most of us, my smart phone is always with me and I play the odd game or two to keep the grey cells ticking over. I enjoy pottering around the house on the weekend so I have my fair share of garden trimmers that always get a work out.

I also just got a new tennis racquet for my birthday so that’s a new favourite at the moment. I also love watching my son play cricket or football on the weekend so that’s always high on the list of priorities.

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

It is something we all need to do and be more conscious of, but it seems the pace of today’s working environment and being connected 24/7, makes it hard to achieve and to turn-off. It certainly is for me at times so I need to make more of an effort.

Exercise and what you eat/drink is an important consideration. I have a couple of mates who seem to have found the right balance so I look to them for inspiration. Like many things in life, having mentors as a reference point can help you get through most challenges.  

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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.