Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Rosa Nguyen, Marketing Lead for Ulu Hye

Rosa Nguyen is the Marketing Lead for Ulu Hye, a sustainable and healthier plant-based milk brand that’s better for you and the planet.

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

I actually studied nursing and completed my one year preceptorship post-graduation. During this time, I realised that nursing wasn’t for me so I decided to pursue my passion for writing.

This was a decade ago and I can’t believe I’m saying ‘back then’ but back then, social media wasn’t what it is right now – a platform to connect with potential employers, network with professionals, find freelance work or even access the resources to pivot into a new career. 

Fortunately for me, I was given a few lucky breaks and eventually found myself copywriting small advertorials for Fashion Trend magazine, writing SEO articles for various industries and eventually landing my first official office job as a junior copywriter and all-rounder at The Gallery creative agency. It wasn’t easy and the grind was definitely real, but this was what I wanted and I knew I had to put the work in, especially since I didn’t have a relevant degree.

I’m currently working as the Marketing Lead for Ulu Hye, an exciting plant-based milk startup focused on wellness and sustainability. I work alongside Co-Founder Heidi and oversee all marketing aspects, from social media management to content creation, influencers, partnerships and PR opportunities, and everything in between. 

Prior to Ulu Hye, I co-founded a digital marketing agency for the beverage industry called Brunch with three friends and former workmates, and also worked at Vinomofo as the Social Media and Content Manager, and Partnerships and Sponsorships Manager for 7 years. I’m also volunteering for the Vietnamese Museum Project of Australia, which is a project very close to my heart. 

It’s pretty wild to reflect back on my career journey as I’m in such a different place in my life but what I’ve learnt is that in work and life when things seemingly don’t work out, the next best thing is just around the corner! 

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

As a working mum of two boys under 6, there’s no such thing as a typical day or week because I always need to be ready to drop everything each time I get a call from school about a bump, blood nose or a missing lunchbox – three things that have happened in the past few weeks! We usually get up at 6am, have breakfast together, have a morning dance party with The Wiggles, then get ready and dressed to leave home by 8am.

After drop-off, I head home and start my work day with a cup of coffee, check my inbox and Asana dashboard, prioritise my tasks and smash out as much as I can until school pickup. Lately I’ve been making the effort to put my devices away when lunchtime hits, but it’s been hard. My time is so condensed, that I end up eating lunch while typing away, but this means I get to relax with my kids and be more present when they’re home, instead of constantly checking my phone.

Once the boys are home from school, it’s generally chaos, and all hands on deck. I usually churn out some more hours in the evenings anywhere between 8-12pm but it really depends on my workload and how much I get done in the day time. 

Working from home means the lines between work/life are often blurred and you’ll find me having meetings, checking messages and even writing articles on my phone while feeding my youngest to sleep, so if you ever hear me whispering on a call you’ll know why! 

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

Absolutely, it was a non-negotiable for me that my next role would need to be flexible as my eldest was starting prep this year and I wanted to have the choice to drop him off and pick him up each day.

I work remotely, as Ulu Hye is Sydney-based and I’m in Melbourne. It’s been 4 months since I took on this role and I think its success lies in the relationship I have with my manager and Co-Founder, Heidi. As a working mum herself, she understands the pressure of juggling the responsibilities of work and life. At the heart of it all, our success lies in direct and open communication, complete trust and good Wi-Fi.

Flexibility to me means I can work my allocated hours, and not feel the pressure to conform to the traditional 9-5pm, Monday-Friday work week as I could be working at 6am or 6pm, on a Sunday, and it doesn’t matter because I get the job done. 

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

A great work-life balance is reflected in the quality of my relationships – the relationship with myself, my family, my friends and my workmates. The better the relationship, the better the balance. It takes a lot of hard work, honesty, reflection and focus to achieve a consistent and happy work-life balance.

My work-life balance is a day-to-day thing and flexible, as it really depends on what needs my attention. I pivot my energies into what requires it the most, at that moment in time, whether it’s me, my family or my work – it’s not a clear cut 50/50. I received this advice years ago from a former workmate who wasn’t just a kickass Chief Financial Officer, but also an amazing mother of two. 

Lately I’ve been asking for help which has really taken the pressure off. Not only have I added an extra day of childcare for my little one but I’ve also signed up to a meal delivery service to ensure we’re all eating yummy, nutritious and fail-safe meals that take little to no time to prepare. 

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

A lot has happened in my life in the past 12 months and more! Not only was I made redundant from a long term role, but I bounced back into freelance life, while also starting a new business and becoming pregnant.

Even without the added layer of work, motherhood itself is a full-time job. As someone who suffered from burnout last year, I’ve learnt many lessons and established simple new habits to ensure that I prioritised myself before anyone else. As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

From the power of saying no, to eating better, sleeping more, reducing my screen time, having a clean and tidy workspace, and most importantly, prioritising fun – all of these little switches have helped me become a healthier and happier person, and in turn, more effective at work 

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

I’ve started listening to The Marketing Millennials podcast hosted by Daniel Murray which is a fun and casual listen with industry game changers in the marketing world. The episode with Ross Simmond’s about the power of content marketing was awesome and full of insightful gems.

Social media is constantly changing so I’m always checking out blogs by Later and Hello Social for tips, tricks and the latest trends. 

I’ve also been reading Monocle magazine for the past decade and always get excited to discover new brands, trends and people from around the world, as well as gain insight into political matters and global news. It’s an intersection of art, culture, business and creativity – a real thought starter.

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

As someone who’s worked in social media for almost a decade, my phone is something I can’t live without.

I’ve also grown to love LinkedIn and the opportunities that exist to not just connect with like-minded individuals and great employers, but to also gain valuable insights, read the latest industry news, be inspired and expand my network by sharing my thoughts, feelings and experiences in an authentic way. 

I’m not a designer by any stretch but I love how Canva has democratised design to allow people like me to create beautiful graphics to support our social media content plan. It’s inspiring and fun, and I enjoy exploring their templates and creating something on-brand. I listen to music daily on Spotify, so that’s another app I can’t live without. I’m currently listening to Toro y Moi’s ‘Mahal’ on repeat. 

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

I’d really love to know how other mums manage to balance their work-life priorities into their daily routines. I’m sure like me, it changes day-to-day, even hour-by-hour but I still find it incredible that mothers can achieve so much in the same 24 hours.

Every mother is already a ‘working mother’ on top of the added pressure to jump back into a career and fulfil that superwoman persona of ‘doing it all’, because doing it all is exhausting. It’s so important to ask for help, reach out to our support network and outsource where and when we can. 

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

I used to joke around that I needed more than 24 hours in my day, but what I realised is that I needed to be more intentional with my time and focus on my priorities, and most importantly myself.

As a people pleaser, my natural response to requests is usually an enthusiastic yes, but lately I’ve been saying no, and feeling good about it. Time is such a precious and fleeting thing which is why it’s so important to ensure that the choices we make are aligned with our values.

And if you don’t know what your values are, take the time to reflect about what you care about and why it matters – write it down and stick it up on your wall, so every day you’re reminded. This has actually been a real guiding force for me and I hope it helps someone struggling to make a decision or make their next career move. 

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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.