Balancing the Grind with Pip Macdonald, Client Engagement Manager at Monash Talent

Pip Macdonald is the Client Engagement Manager at Monash Talent, where she helps maintain a pathway into industry for Monash University graduates and interns. 

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

My career began in marketing and recruitment prior to managing career engagement programs. Currently I work full-time in the tertiary sector, connecting exciting early talent industry roles with top graduates or alumni talent.

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

I start my day with an hour in the gym, then get the kids ready for school. Thankfully I’m juggling a hybrid role at the moment as my onsite days are only 1-2 days a week.

A typical day will involve me starting the day with a client meeting, either on-site at the university or client’s office, depending on their office/remote work situation, then returning to my home office, or CBD location, and working on a sourcing proposal for a role I’m keen to fill for a client.

During the day I’m consuming industry news, talent updates and interacting with talent communities or conferences I join. Thankfully many of them are online and integrated with my work day.

I usually have ad hoc Zoom coaching calls with graduates who are keen to understand how to approach specific industry sectors or roles I work with. Then I’ll spend the afternoon reaching out to new companies to educate them on the range of industry pathways Monash offers across internships, graduate placements and the role we play in attracting our experienced alumni.

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

Yes – given my current role involves some work-at-home days I’m able to mind the kids after-school while working from home, on those days, so I work into the early evening and this works well with the focus on output of my projects rather than fulfilled work hours within a finite bracket of time – such as the old-fashioned 9-5 expectation.

I also find it less stressful to squeeze in the gym prior to work when I’m home-based.

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

To me work-life balance means empowerment over my own time management, work schedule and project structure. It means I am not turning up in the office simply for the sake of a body in person and my focus is on output and activity as opposed to simply time and attendance.

It also means I’m able to integrate it with other parts of my life and they compliment each other, rather than compete against each other like many women who work full-time managing school kids or younger children must feel, juggling care and work responsibilities.

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

COVID was both a blessing and a curse. As an extreme extrovert the challenge of working at home full-time scared me senseless. I relished the constant face-to-face team contact, client meetings and in-person catch ups I’d have with industry colleagues.

Though when COVID cut these out I found my focus was completely on the return on investment on time and daily schedule structure, when in the past my work routine was measured by hours and office commitments.

COVID has offered me an opportunity to discover how many client visits I’m able to conduct virtually, as well as introduce me to a new range of digital skills. In the past 12 months I’ve taught myself how to present and record sessions via Zoom for information sharing purposes.

I’ve become familiar with conducting webinars and thinking on my feet and talking off the cuff, when previously I would prepare solidly for in-person presentations with a full set of notes and powerpoint slides.

The lack of commute has proven to me how much I can save and also revealed the incidental expenses accrued when working in the city. The amount I’ve saved in the last year has thrown a spotlight on my budget and the layers of cream that can be trimmed.

The flexible work arrangements have also allowed me to cut out half of my after-care costs and made managing after-school child care easier.

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

So many!

Top favourite podcasts:

Favourite books:

  • Phosphorescence by Julia Baird
  • Tribe of Mentors by Tim Ferris
  • Self Fidelity by Cassandra Goodman


  • Nir Eyal’s weekly update
  • Medium Daily Digest
  • Harvard Business School Working Knowledge

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

I use all these apps daily:

  • LinkedIn
  • Podcast app
  • Instagram
  • Zoom
  • Mighty Networks


  • Apple watch to never miss an email and track fitness


  • Bullet journaling – changed my life – daily habits are tracked month to month with fluctuations of patterns between weekly habits more noticable, goal setting easier and daily task tracking much more on track than a simple calendar model

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

I believe I could learn a heck of a lot from Jacinda Ardern. Balancing such a high pressure role, media profile AND raising a family can’t be an easy gig.

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

I believe it’s crazy difficult for under-resourced working women with children who lack support at home or in the work structure to succeed in their career or be successful in their work role.

COVID has demonstrated just how disproportionate and precarious it is for women working across all types of casual/part-time and full time roles and the range of disadvantages women with children are facing when juggling the demands of career.

It’s highlighted the essential role employers play in building in this flexibility and role adaptation into work structure and how supportive they are able to be to allow women to achieve in their role as well as create space for their concurrent important unpaid roles in their 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.