Vanessa Cremona is the Communications & Brand Manager for Asia-Pacific Japan at managed cloud computing company Rackspace Technology.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I didn’t follow a career path that could be easily replicated.
I started off studying media, which led me to camera operation, working on the 2000 Sydney Olympics, various sports and cooking shows, and assisting on movie shoots I’d rather forget.
From this came a love of how stories were put together and I moved into journalism. As an editor and a writer I got to experience the best and the craziest people, I interviewed celebs, musicians, tattooists, kids and everyday people with amazing stories.
Somehow this made me a perfect candidate for working in a communications role. Before Rackspace Technology, I led marketing teams for high-end jewellery, travel and publishing, but with the growth of cloud and a need for businesses to form digital pathways, I’ve found a role where I am never short of new stories to tell.
We partner with some of the most recognisable companies in the world such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon, I love that I get to wake up and create campaigns that showcase what we do.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
The one thing I need for my role is a great memory.
I chase the sun a lot with my role. I may start the day talking to my US counterparts via zoom, I often have early check-ins with my Director in Singapore, then I can be working on any amount of customer stories, blogs, presentations, awards, or video campaigns. My day often ends working on internal comms with calls to the EMEA.
I also manage multiple PR teams across the region. Having them there to be sounding boards and ask questions helps me to focus and ensure we’re ticking the boxes we need to across APJ – they are my lifesavers.
Managing brand and communications across APJ throws up some crazy situations, requires a lot of patience and mostly a love of learning, not just the tech, but how to work within a variety of cultures.
During COVID-19 I’ve also had a comms assistant in the form of my 4-year-old son. He is on hand to amuse Rackers, customers and our partners with his on-camera performances – He’s great with a harmonica. I’ve had my team amuse him by setting their zoom virtual backgrounds to Bluey, singing to him or pulling faces while I explain next steps in campaigns etc. It’s never boring.
It would be very easy for each and every day to slide into complete chaos, but in the end, it’s about smiling and pulling it all together.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I’m very lucky, I was employed by a leader, and company, who understood my need to always be there for my son. So from day one, I had the kind of flexibility every parent dreams of. This took time to get used to. I’d previously worked in female-majority industries where you were looked down on for leaving on time.
As I’ve moved up in my role at Rackspace Technology, I have always had a weekly work from home day and flexibility to move hours and meetings around to fit what is needed in my everyday life.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Living within the moment. There is nothing worse than having one foot in each at all times. This has been made hard for a lot of people during WFH and COVID-19, because we’re balancing kids at home, longer work hours and we all know that we are still facing a lot of the unknown with pandemic risk continuing to put pressure on both sides of our lives.
I admit I don’t always get it right. But I’ve gotten better at blocking out my calendar and not apologising for doing so.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve deleted my work email app off my phone. I found I would religiously check my phone after hours and on weekends and then switch into work mode, with mindfulness going out the door.
Now, if my agencies or team need me they know to WhatsApp me for urgent requests (or memes).
I also try to do some form of meditation or calming activity for 10-15 minutes before I start work each day. I wake up with a hundred things running through my head, so the act of stopping and clearing my mind for those few minutes helps me prioritise what’s in my head.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Does Andy Lee’s Do Not Open This Book count? My son is obsessed with it and hearing him laugh is the best part of my day.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My iPhone because it allows me to take calls anywhere, anytime and is full of photos from our offices around APJ, I take a lot of photos and they’ve saved me for presentations and stories more times than I can count.
A good Bluetooth speaker, music gives me so much energy. And also for a break my son and I may have a quick dance in the office or the kitchen and it sets me up to refocus and keep going.
And of late Whil, an app that helps with training mindfulness, stress resilience, wellbeing, sleep and performance. Something working mums all need!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’m fascinated by how CEOs, especially women, manage to get the balance right. I know that working as part of a global company can mean early mornings and late nights, but the demands of running a company never stop.
Having time for family and friends can often be difficult, let alone self-care. I’d love to hear the tricks they use and how they decide what’s not so important. We can’t always do it all.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Sometimes the best way forward is to embrace the chaos and learn to move within it.
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