Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Sarah Kelly, APAC Marketing Director at Partnerize

Sarah Kelly is the APAC Marketing Director at Partnerize, the leading global destination for affiliate marketing and partnership automation.

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

I’ve been so fortunate in my career so far to work across so many different industries including education, cosmetics, consulting and now my favourite technology!

I started as a Marketing Assistant back in 2010 and I’m now leading marketing for the APAC region for Partnerize, a partner management solutions company. I lead efforts across the region, working in partnership with my incredible Marketing Coordinator, Tara.

In my current role, I’m responsible for leading the marketing strategy and execution across Australia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Japan. That’s everything from budgets and reporting, to events and webinars, to digital campaigns.

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

I feel very lucky to have not only kept my job during COVID, but also to work for a company that is trying to make a difference for its clients during these times.

I’ve really tried to make the best of working from home. We’ve been WFH since March so it’s certainly been challenging at times, especially as I’m quite the extrovert.

One of the best parts of my job is that every day is different – it’s one of the reasons I encourage people to get into Marketing – but a typical day for me looks like this:

At 7:00am I usually have my first calls as I like to get as much overlap with my US counterparts as I can, then once those morning meetings are done I head out for coffee and try and get a short walk in.

By lunchtime, I’ve attempted to clear my inbox, and have usually caught up with my APAC team about upcoming events, campaigns and priorities. I spend a lot of time with the Sales team and I’m lucky to have such great people in that team who make the most of marketing initiatives.

In the afternoons I work on what’s most important for that day – I recently spent an afternoon doing a video interview with one of our partners which was really fun!

Not every day, but at least once a week I do a personal training session where my amazing PT Alice makes me feel better for all the terrible food choices I’ve made over the weekend.

At night, I sometimes stay up to connect with our EMEA team, but I do love spending my evenings just winding down, catching up with family and friends, and taking a break from the day.

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

Yes I’m so lucky that my company has been so supportive of flexible working – they actually gave all employees a year of Netflix to make sure we took proper breaks at home.

I’m definitely an early riser, and therefore not the best at night, so I love that I can get up early and power through my work, and then take a good break in the middle of the day.

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

If I’m completely honest with myself, I’m still aspiring to the work-life balance I want. I definitely get wrapped up in the day, and then next thing you know the suns gone down.

I really do believe that a work-life balance is important, especially for mental health, so I’m now actively taking more breaks where I go outside, even if it’s only to walk up and get a coffee, and I’m trying to close down my computer at the end of the day to give my brain a rest.

I think it’s important to remember that you do your best work when you’re well-rested and it’s something I’m striving for more each day, especially now that we’re working from home.

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

I’ve definitely adopted some really positive routines since COVID-19. One of the best things for me is that I invest a lot more time in speaking to my family – we’re doing Zoom calls every week now, and as they’re spread across New Zealand and the UK, it’s been amazing to still “see” them so regularly.

I’ve also started stretching, which sounds ridiculous on its own, but has been such a good way to stop for 10 minutes in the day and I’ve noticed a real difference in how I feel – especially as I’m sat at a desk all day.

On the flip side, my consumption of Cadbury Caramilk has dramatically increased so perhaps not all of my new routines are going to remain.

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

I’ve tried using some of the time I’d normally commute to improve my learning. One of the areas I’m trying to learn more about is finance and money management and one of my colleagues recently put me onto the Millennial Money podcast which I really rate!

For books, I recently downloaded Audible so I’ve been listening to things that I enjoy and especially when I need to switch off from work. I’m about halfway through Elton John’s biography and then next up I’ve got Michelle Obama’s Becoming on the to-read list.

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

My absolute favourite app is Calm! It’s such a great app in so many ways, and it makes such a difference to my day, especially when I have a lot to manage. There’s a free version of it which you should definitely try out if you’re interested.

Alongside that I couldn’t live without Spotify. I have music on all day and it really does affect my mood and motivation.

At work, I have to say Trello is a big tool for me. It makes it so easy to manage priorities and also to coordinate and support my team – it’s a must-have when we’re working remotely.

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

I’d love to read an interview with a doctor or nurse who has been working during the pandemic. The resilience and perseverance they must have, and the ability to work crazy hours and still go home to family and friends would be so interesting to understand.

It might not signify the best work-life balance, but it would certainly be a great read and would help me understand what’s truly important.

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

I think the most important thing to remember is making yourself a priority. You’re your best when you’re relaxed and rested.

Being at home for work all the time makes it easier to slip into bad habits like increasing your work-time to unsustainable proportions. So remember to take breaks, take time for your own development, and do things that you love. That’s certainly some advice I’m trying to take anyway!

Alongside that, make an effort to take care of those around you. Check-in on your colleagues and friends and make sure that they’re okay and taking pauses. If we support each other, we become better.

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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.