Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Rachel Appleby, Head of CLM at Vodafone

Rachel Appleby is the Head of CLM at Vodafone. Prior to this she was the Head of Brand & Marketing at Belong, a division of Telstra, where she managed a team of marketers across brand & content, digital acquisition, and customer lifecycle management.

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

I’m currently the Head of CLM at Vodafone. Previously I was the Head of Brand and Marketing, at Belong, and prior to that, I was part of an AI and Cognitive Intelligence practice at KPMG. I’ve also held various marketing roles at Bupa.

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

I’ve recently started a new role, so my workday has changed a bit recently. I went from leading the Brand and Marketing function, working across everything from Brand Strategy, Acquisition Performance and Lifecycle Communications, etc. for a high growth brand to leading a CLM function for a larger customer base with a larger volume of interactions.

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

Yes, it certainly does. I’m currently spending most of the time working from home, with several days in the office each month.

I have family and a place a couple of hours out of Sydney, so I may work a day or two from the south coast if I need every so often. This enables me to manage family commitments with greater flexibility.

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

I think work-life balance is an incredibly individual thing. What balance means to one person is different from the next.

Some people find joy in being able to integrate their work and home lives and transition in and out of family and work life with ease, while others find it necessary to have distinct boundaries and prefer to keep their work and non-work lives very separate and segmented.

Either way it’s all living so there needs to be the type of flexibility that enables individuals to prioritise what works for them.

As someone who loves working, I can easily over integrate work and home life so it’s something I actively manage now as I’m conscious of the impact too much work has on those around me.

To me, work-life balance is more about managing different speeds, intensities and priorities in life. At different times in our lives, our priorities and circumstances change so I think it is important, where possible, to be brave to make the tweaks and changes necessary to balance what is most important to you.

For now, if I’m able to incorporate different speeds and priorities into my week, then I feel more balanced. That might look like ensuring I have time to exercise, slowing down with a quiet weekend or focusing on other things that energise me.

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

Yes, I started meditating this year. I’d tried to meditate for many years and could never get into it however, in the early days of COVID I came across the Chopra centre, and given all the change that was happening, I decided to trail a 21-day course.

It made a significant difference to my mental state at the time so I’ve kept it up, just not as intensely. I now try to do it a couple of times a week for 15 mins before I get out of bed or fall asleep.

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

At the moment, I’m a big fan of a few podcasts:

You can probably find a theme here – I’m particularly interested in organisational psychology and the future of work. The next one on my list is Business Wars by Wondery.

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

Nothing revolutionary but I am a fan of my heart rate monitor at the gym!

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

Probably how Nick Molnar (Founder of Afterpay) or Melanie Perkins (Founder of Canva) balance their work and life, given they have both experienced such phenomenal growth and success in a relatively short period.

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

No solid thoughts, just questions! What will the future of work look like? I think we have a lot of navigating left to do. There are so many benefits to working from home, but we know it also inherently comes with its challenges.

The way we balance these challenges with the benefits of remote working long term will be interesting to see. Assuming there will be a portion of remote working, how we create positive and inclusive cultures in a remote or blended setting.

What happens to innovation if less internal connections are being made remotely and how do we grow the next generation remotely if there are less opportunities to casually ‘observe’?

Equally interesting is how the definition of organisational growth will evolve over time if financial growth is no longer enough – who will be successful in truly driving greater environmental and social outcomes?

There are some great organisations making headway in these spaces but still a lot of questions and diverse perspectives to ponder – fascinating!

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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.