Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Tony O’Halloran, Director of Constellation Strategy

Tony O’Halloran is a marketer with over 15 years experience working with brands like Coca-Cola, Emirates and Allianz. He is the Director of marketing consultancy Constellation Strategy.

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

I’ve spent the last 15 years or so in marketing and communications mainly working in Sydney and London.

I started in marketing roles in big blue chip organisations like Coca-Cola, then went agency side in strategy planning, and finally came back full circle into senior client side marketing roles a few years back – but in non-profit organisations.

Right now, I’m running my own marketing consultancy: Constellation Strategy, that offers a range of marketing solutions all the way from strategy through to execution.

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

I like to jumpstart my day with a ‘no excuses’ mantra when it comes to fitness. The day always starts with a run down to the beach or workout in the backyard – luckily, I don’t find it a chore. And absolutely no work that day is happening without my morning espresso.

My working day kicks off with reviewing and updating my priorities list for that week, then I’ll work out what I think can get done that day. I guess that’s pretty robotic, but things go off the rails pretty quickly for me if I don’t stay organised.

A recent workday that is pretty typical for me as a consultant, was going to a client’s office this week to take a brief for a new job. I love the organisation and client and it’s a project to develop new brand creative from strategy through to execution with the client’s agency, so I am pretty pumped about it.

That afternoon I scoped out the project in terms of all the steps required from inception through to completion and estimated costs. Now I’m waiting for the client’s input and go-ahead.

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

I’m lucky, as a consultant I have control over my place of work. I’m currently working from home to keep overhead costs down and because of the pandemic.

In terms of meetings, I’m fine with Teams/Zoom/phone for most things. Though nothing beats face-to-face when there’s something more complex to chat through. Also a Teams/Zoom meeting for more than a few hours can vaporise your will to live.

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

I think that it can be easy to be simplistic about work-life balance only being how much time you spend on work versus other aspects of your life. That’s definitely important but if you can have a laugh at work and not feel under constant pressure while you’re at work – that can bring balance too.

It would be fair to say that for the majority of my career I’ve been pretty hopeless with managing work-life balance no matter how it’s defined. My approach has generally been to try to cram as much as I possibly can into each day rather than re-prioritise.

However, in recent years I’ve made an effort to become more intentional in setting boundaries about how much time I spend on my work, taking breaks and devoting time to other things in my life that are also important, such as family and writing a novel.

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

In the last year, a combination of factors, including the pandemic and a family member being ill, has definitely motivated me to think about my career and priorities in life overall.

Probably the biggest change I’ve made recently, is moving from heading up a marketing team to going into marketing consulting. That was a tough decision as I loved the people and organisation where I was working. But it really felt like time for a change.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll go back into an organisation again one day but for now this feels great.

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

For news and insights, I regularly review loads of sites. But I particularly like Visual Capitalist for amazing visualisation of data insights and for stimulating creative news.

I read a book a fortnight – invariably fiction. It’s my way of winding down. I like too many books to name a single favourite but Man with a Seagull on His Head by Harriet Paige is pretty fresh and worth a read if you’re looking for something different.

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

I cannot imagine life without my Kindle – I read too many books to have them all in physical form.

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

I’ve always been fascinated and inspired by the tips and approaches of high achievers I’ve worked with who manage to run an organisation, have a rich personal life, treat others with respect, and have a healthy sense of humour. I won’t name them, or they’ll just think I am pitching for consulting work.

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

For me, the importance of different areas of life such as work, family, friends, creative interests, and spirituality has altered at different stages of my life.

But despite this, I noticed (and maybe it’s just me) that it can be very easy to maintain the same prioritisation you always have – unless you’re forced to change. Breaking life-long habits can be hard. So I think being conscious and proactive about what you prioritise at different life stages is important if you want to be happy.

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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.