Balancing the Grind with Susannah Yeung, Partner at D.A.M Studio

Susannah Yeung is the Partner at creative studio and strategic branding agency D.A.M Studio, working with clients such as the UNDP, The Lion’s Share, CSIRO’s Data61, Austrade and Lion.

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

Most of my career has been spent in brand advisory roles in design, agency, brand experience, client side and consulting.

I’m fortunate in that my core skill set is transferable so I have worked across several industries and countries and also re-skilled along the way.

I have worked for a mix of corporate clients as well as agency side at Saatchi & Saatchi, Crispin Porter + Bogusky and with TEDx.

After completing qualifications in Wholefoods Cooking and Yoga teacher training in the US, I also founded a wellbeing program for teens with a business partner, which we implemented in high schools such as Scots College and Sydney Grammar School.

Now back in the world of Design consultancy, I’m a partner at D.A.M Studio in Sydney, focussed on brand creation, strategy and operations.

Our clients are large and small including start ups, local and international brands, arts organisations and new product innovation. We are the design partner for The Lion’s Share, a wildlife conservation initiative with the UNDP.

We partner with some amazing non-profits such as Global Sisters who are doing incredible work empowering women to launch their own businesses and we’re working with clients diversifying into new product categories so our projects are varied and challenging in different ways.

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

A typical day involves home life first. Starting the day on my yoga mat, even for 10 minutes, sets me up for the day. Making sure the kids are nourished is my first priority, then I do a quick scan of work messages to check nothing unexpected has cropped up.

After the school run, I set my work priorities for the day over a coffee and check in with my team. From then on my day varies, writing brand strategy, reviewing creative concepts with the team and project progress with clients, liaising with partner agencies and managing the operational side of the agency.

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

COVID has definitely been a key factor in the way our team has worked this year. We have put systems in place that have enabled us to function better remotely.

We were previously flexible in our culture and operations, understanding that people need the ability to work around their families. With most of our clients still working remotely, the majority of our meetings are now online.

Our office is an important part of the creative process, team collaboration and culture but we have systems in place to accommodate people’s personal commitments and trust that our team will get the work done.

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

A good work life balance allows me to have uninterrupted blocks of time in the day to focus on the business while allowing the flexibility to be present with my family when needed.

The flexibility to do this means the days are generally odd hours or I finish later, as I have to jump back online in the evenings to wrap up work, but sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day!

It’s also important that there are times when you are able to switch off, be unavailable and uncontactable. It’s important to be able to take time out and not be a slave to your phone or devices.

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

I have started going to bed earlier and getting up earlier. It means the mornings are generally calmer and I’m in a better headspace for the rest of the day.

I’m reading more books and spending more time outdoors, playing tennis and hiking. Being at home during COVID has also made me pare back my living/working environment to make more physical and mental space; so I’ve been quite ruthless in clearing out things I no longer need or use.

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

I enjoy reading Michael Pollan’s view on the world. Also as a hangover from my time living in the US, I listen to the NPR podcasts.

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

I’m not really a gadget junkie, but I just got a SUP so am hoping that becomes something I can’t live without.

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

Jacinda Ardern.

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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.