Balancing the Grind with Richard Gibbs, Senior External Affairs Manager at Royal Caribbean Cruises

Richard Gibbs is a Senior External Affairs Manager at Royal Caribbean Cruises, where he oversees the communication and stakeholder engagement initiatives.

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

I started out in the travel industry as a journalist.  After working for a leading travel industry publication for a number of years, I transitioned into public relations and worked at several agencies in South Florida, then onto a series of in-house communications positions. 

My most important job at the moment is making sure that I stay healthy ─ as well as my family ─ as we all see ourselves through this global pandemic.  In addition to that, I have an assignment that I truly love, and that is working for a company that makes vacation memories that last a lifetime. 

Every day, I learn something new from my colleagues at Royal Caribbean Group about the guest experience and what it takes to continuously innovate to deliver on that promise for all our cruise line brands.

As senior external affairs manager, I develop, strategize and manage communication and stakeholder engagement initiatives to ensure success of Royal Caribbean Group destination development projects across the globe.

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

I work remotely and usually get up between 5:30 a.m. and 6:30 a.m.   My hankering for news kicks in right away. 

I make the arduous 23-step-work commute from the bedroom to the living room. I take time to sit on the couch before anyone else in the house gets up to check Apple News, sometimes BBC News (for more of a worldview) my work email and my personal email for about 30 to 45 minutes just to get a feel for the day’s trending news cycle.

I also read a hard copy of The Miami Herald that I still get delivered to my house as well as cruise industry news clips.  I get something to eat, walk Rufus (our dog), and drop my daughter to school ─ making a few “dad jokes” along the way.

I return home to tackle various assignments, Zoom meetings and deadline projects. Sometime during the day, for about an hour, I exercise, which could be anything from swimming to stand-up paddle boarding to riding my bicycle or running sprints in the sand on the beach.

Depending on what is going on, I wrap up around 5:30-6pm and then make preparations for dinner with the family.

No typical day is exactly like the other depending on what could be happening in one part of the world or the other. A ruling in Europe about the delayed development of a port for instance could impact an entire cruise brand’s itinerary and result in a redeployment of a vessel to another part of the world.

Everything now in the cruise industry is so dynamic and fluid and our team is laser focused on getting all the required health protocols right so we can start sailing again from the United States once given approval to do so.

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

Yes, flexibility is my middle name at this point in time. For the time being, our offices at PortMiami are not accessible.

Our company leadership has been great in allocating the bandwidth everyone requires to work remotely given everything that has occurred during the pandemic and has accommodated the needs of family, making sure that resources are available to cater to our well-being, from online health and fitness seminars to all types of counseling.

It is a stressful time for all of us, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel. As I have been working remotely since March 2020 and spending more time at home, I have certainly upped my game by learning to be a better cook and  using my backyard grill since we do not eat inside restaurants.

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

I take more time to appreciate the things that I am grateful for in my life, knowing that many people don’t have jobs, are concerned about their health or could be looking for a place to live.

I understand this unique moment in time where the opportunity to spend more time with immediate family is rare as my daughter alternates between online school and attending school in person. My wife works from home as well.

If it’s a nice day, I spend more time outside or go for a longer walk.  I listen to music more and speak with my parents more on the phone since I can’t see them as often and when I do see them, I am careful to practice social distancing and wear a mask.

I place a high priority on disconnecting from electronic devices, because I am hunched over the dining room table for many hours a day on the computer and phone.

We instituted a family rule that all electronic communication or work devices have to be turned off at 10:30 p.m. at the latest during regular work and school days.

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

Yes, I got my backyard grill fixed to add to the variety of meals we cook and hope to be a grill master someday. No one else in the family cooks on that grill except me!

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

My favorite book of all time is A Long Walk to Freedom, the autobiography of Nelson Mandela.  Since I have a teenage daughter, I just started to read: I’d Listen to My Parents if They’d Just Shut Up – What to Say and Not Say When Parenting Teens, by Anthony E. Wolf. 

The best chapter I have covered so far is about creating the right environment at home to ensure homework gets done at the right time.  I highly recommend that everyone with a ninth grader read this book.

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

I can’t live without my iPhone and our Netflix subscription!

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

School teachers and physicians. Not enough credit is given to the impact that school teachers have on society and I would be interested in finding out how they are able to step away from what they are called to do every day and find balance in their lives,  especially during a pandemic.  As for physicians, what are the coping mechanisms that they employ at a time like this?

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

Take time to invest in yourself sooner rather than later and visualize your own path forward.  Ask yourself, ‘when is there a better time to live your best life?’

Don’t think that there will always be time tomorrow to plan or act on something you have been thinking about doing or achieving for a long time. Don’t be afraid to dream and envision what you would really like to do now.

The position that I have now with Royal Caribbean Group is actually eerily similar to a job description that I drafted for myself when I was with another employer.

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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.