Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Sofia Ilyas, Sales & Marketing Director at Nura

Sofia Ilyas is the Sales & Marketing Director at Nura, a headphone brand founded in 2015 and headquartered in Melbourne.

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

I previously worked in music, managing a record label called Erased Tapes. I then launched my PR agency, Float, and during that time, I acquired clients such as Carhartt and Nura. I’m currently full-time at Nura as the Sales & Marketing Director.

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

I start my day by answering all my emails in order to empty my inbox, so I can focus on the rest of my workday. 

I then make a to-do list and select music albums to accompany the type of work I’ll be doing that day. Piano music works well against spreadsheet work and techno when I need to get pumped for a meeting!

As I work from home, I created various working areas, some sitting areas and others where I stand. I move to a new spot when I hit a target on my to-do list. I find moving to a new spot not only keeps my mind fresh but also allows me to move my body and stretch. I place a lot of awareness on my posture while I work.

I do no more than 6 hours of work in one sitting. This allows me to accumulate hours for creative thinking away from my desk. I take a break to cook for myself and then I walk for at least an hour and think over my workday and what I want to focus on for the rest of the week. When I arrive home, I sometimes do some more work but mostly I start listening to music and ensure I rest my mind to prepare for the next day.

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

My current role allows for remote working. I ensure I follow the same formula as if I was in an office. I’m at my desk by a specific time. I focus on my work during the day and focus on myself in the evening. 

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

I try not to see it as a balance as that tends to place work in the negative bucket. Work allows for mental stimulation, self-development by working with others, and financial support. That income funds my lifestyle and my passion projects. The fresh food that I cook and eat impacts my work positively and so on. It’s all interlinked and when you see it that way everything falls into its right place.

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

I cut out a lot of unhealthy food. I avoid snacks such as crisps and I cook almost every day. I make sure I always walk, no matter what the weather is or how I feel. I walk during the sunset hours as it helps me feel connected to my surroundings.

Watching the lighting change as the sun goes down is always incredible. It also helps me relieve any tension or negative thoughts I may take on during my workday. If I have an issue at work, I try not to spend time in a negative mindset. Instead, I think about a potential positive solution. 

A few months ago, I started working with a success coach, who I now speak to every two weeks. Having a professional to bounce off and give attention to my self-improvement has become important to me.

Personal and work-life are so intertwined. How we treat colleagues, friends, things that occurred in our childhood, it all impacts our work behavior. It’s important to dig deep inside ourselves and understand our behavior better, so we can improve our interactions with colleagues.

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

I’m currently reading The School of Life: An Emotional Education by Alain De Botton. I like a lot of his thoughts on topics and would recommend digging into his videos on YouTube.

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

I can’t live without my record players and speakers. Selecting records in the evening and listening while I lay on the floor is my favourite way to relax.

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

Nils Frahm was always inspiring to me in that he had a vision and worked really hard to achieve it but when he was around his friends, his phone was never out. He was fully focused on them and in the moment. I’ve always struggled with not thinking and I’ve found focusing on being in the present has really helped me have a healthier life. 

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

If anything is making you feel anxious at work, write in one row the issues you are facing, and in another row try and list positive actions you can take to improve the situation. We all like to blow off steam sometimes but try to focus on problem-solving instead. 

Find things outside of work that can help you relax, inspire you to think, self-improve, and so on. Share your experiences with friends and ask them what challenges they face and how they’ve corrected them. There’s so much you can learn for those around you. 

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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.