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Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Rachel Dance, Head of Growth Marketing at StashAway

Rachel Dance is the Head of Growth Marketing at StashAway, a digital wealth management platform headquartered in Singapore.

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

Currently, I’m the Head of Growth Marketing at StashAway, a digital wealth management platform that’s headquartered in Singapore with offices in Hong Kong, Malaysia, MENA, and Thailand.

I manage the group’s content, growth marketing, and product marketing teams, and their objective collectively is to bring as many of the right people into the funnel, and then to engage those customers throughout their lifecycle with the company.

We say “LTV”, “CAC”, “CR”, “Product adoption”, “Customer Journey”, “Referral”, and “Engage” a lot. 

In 2016, I joined StashAway as the fourth employee and first non-tech hire, so I was responsible for everything from website and product copy, to PR, content, and branding.

As the team grew, I was able to start passing off some of those responsibilities, and was able to continually make my way closer and closer to the product. Up until 2 weeks ago, I was also the company’s UX writer, and this deep integration with the product I think is something that enabled me to bridge marketing and product. 

Before StashAway, I was dabbling in quite a bit as I tried to find the right spot for myself – I had stints in private equity, microfinance, economic non-profits, and traditional publishing. It was always about financial inclusion and communications, and then I finally got to bring that all together when I joined StashAway.

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

I guess it’s pretty cliche to say that there’s no typical workday in a startup. But what I try to keep consistent is the following

  • Waking up and going to sleep within an hour of the same time every day, including weekends
  • No checking any form of communication on my phone for the first hour of waking up
  • Just 5-10 minutes of breathwork in the morning (For years I tried meditating, and I couldn’t get it to stick)
  • Duolingo for 15 minutes in the morning with my coffee (my partner is Turkish, so I’m learning Turkish to communicate with his family better, plus I love learning languages)
  • 15-30 minutes of journaling a few times a week
  • No meetings until 10:30 or 11am
  • Exercise at some point in the day, even if it’s just a walk
  • Read for 30 minutes either in the morning, as a break from work, and/or before bed

Here’s a peek into a recent work day:

9 to 10:30 deep work for whatever is key strategically for me that week

10:30 – weekly 1:1 with my manager, the CMO

11:30 – Check Slack for the first time that day

12:00 – A quick homemade lunch 

12:30 – Introducing a vendor I’ve been engaging to some key stakeholders on my team who’d benefit if we were to move forward with them

1:30 – Discussion with a growth marketing manager and the CPO next steps for how we plan to incentivize better customer behavior 

2:00 – Weekly marketing team standup

2:30 – Company-wide monthly OKR status updates 

3pm – Monthly growth meeting with one of our local markets

4pm – Copy reviews for the team, in this case, product screens and emails for a referral promotion we’re pushing soon, and a product summary document we need for a new product we’ll be launching this month

4:30 – Check emails once a day. Check Slack for the second time. 

5:00 – Look at portfolios of potential candidates added to the pipeline for some of the roles we’re hiring for

6:00 – Interview a candidate for a growth marketing manager role

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

Singapore is still essentially completely locked down, so we’re still not even allowed in the office. Once the government does allow employees back in the office, the company will still allow flexible working. StashAway also allows for up to 2 months of true remote working, too – meaning, work from anywhere in the world.

I have a love-hate relationship with WFH because I was always someone who thought home to be a sanctuary i.e.once upon a time before COVID, I made a point to do my best not to work from home.

So the pandemic really challenged me to be flexible in my “rules”, which I think in the long term has benefited me. Socialising also took a hit, because it used to happen after work when we’d be in the CBD at the same time.

The Type-A side of me likes WFH a lot because it cuts down on time for commuting and getting ready – efficiency!

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

To me, work-life balance sounds like we’re constantly giving and taking to keep things functioning, or balanced. Work-life integration has taken hold in a lot of rhetoric because it suggests that there aren’t actually two separate priorities we have to struggle to manage but rather we can just meld them to alleviate the tension. 

I bought into “integration”’s virtues for a bit, but then realised that I was someone who can let my work start to define me and my time if I don’t actively manage it. 

I believe work and personal life each need to respect the other’s existence: There will be times that we get pulled into work more deeply than the norm, and there will be times that life requires our full attention.

Work-life balance or integration puts it on me to balance or integrate the two. But what I’ve found to be most important to be successful in both my personal life and professional life is earning buy-in from my family, friends, and work about the boundaries I will inevitably have to draw at times. But I haven’t found a catchy phrase for this yet. Suggestions are welcome!

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

About 6 months ago I stopped drinking. By no means was I even close to having a drinking problem – I was having probably 2-3 drinks a week. Cutting alcohol out happened unexpectedly, randomly, and suddenly when I was scrolling through my Goodreads account and I came across a book titled, Quit Like a Woman.

I hated the title so much that I actually clicked to see what it was about. I read a few chapters, and that led me to devouring research about the effects alcohol has on our physical, emotional, and mental health.

I continued to seek out essays on the social implications of drinking versus not drinking. Within a couple of days, I broke the habit of ordering a glass of wine with dinner and started ordering sparkling water instead.

I began feeling so much better: I was sleeping better, my anxiety was better, and I felt more mindful. I admit that I’ll still have a glass of champagne or wine occasionally (like once a month), but when I do, those times are very intentional.

I was slightly nervous about the social repercussions, but it really hasn’t been a big deal at all to them. I have really good people in my life. 

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

Books

I read about a book a week, and though I read a lot of great ones, I also read a lot of not-so-great ones. These are the books I’d recommend to anyone even without knowing a thing about the person:

  • The Courage to be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi and Fumitake Koga
  • The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron 
  • Just Breathe by Dan Bruhle (about the importance of better breathing)
  • Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (or The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday if you want to ease into stoicism) 
  • Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

Podcasts 

  • For great storytelling and random facts: Ologies 
  • For fun economics applications: The Indicator from Planet Money
  • For neuroscience: Huberman Lab
  • For business/startups/marketing: In Depth by First Round

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

My Apple Watch and Sodastream. 

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

Barack and Michelle Obama. I’ve read their books, so I can get a sense of what they’d say, but I imagine that a quick deep dive would reveal some important take-aways on how to stay human through stress.

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.