Balancing the Grind with Vasudha Panda, Membership Lead at Australian Marketing Institute

Vasudha Panda is the Membership Lead at Australian Marketing Institute (AMI) is the professional body for marketing practitioners in Australia.

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

I was born and raised in India and unconventionally (I believe to my good luck), completed my graduation in Agricultural Sciences and post-graduation in Agribusiness Management.

I kicked off my career with one of the largest Agri-chemical firms in the world – BASF and had the opportunity to travel across my country and work with some of the most progressive farming communities.

I had a little boy in November 2016 and decided to be a stay at home mum. At that point, my husband and I were also discussing the idea of moving to Sydney.

We came here in 2018 and after the initial months of settling down and days and days of job hunting, a friend recommended me to opt for volunteering. I joined the Australian Marketing Institute as a Membership Volunteer in October 2018 and was offered a permanent role after 4 months.

Since July 2020, I’ve been the Membership Lead, responsible for Corporate Member engagement and all Membership projects and activities.

The Australian Marketing Institute was founded in 1933 and over the years has grown to become the peak professional body for marketers in Australia and APAC. It is this legacy that I’m so proud to have been entrusted with and which I constantly remind myself of in my day to day work. 

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

Every day brings its own little surprises and challenges and as a working mum, I anticipate curve balls anytime. To be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A typical work day for me is quite interesting, I have a few different job responsibilities and either I focus on 1-2 key assignments or do a bit of all during the day. I start off with reports and proposals and spend a bit of time on my “passion projects” as mornings are the best time for me to work without any distractions. 

I make sure to spend a couple of hours with my son when he gets up, we have our breakfast together and do a bit of reading. The rest of the day includes calls with members, team meetings, replying to emails and other priorities for the day. I make sure I have my key tasks planned for the next day before I wrap up by 4.30 PM and unless it’s urgent, my laptop stays shut till the next morning. 

In recent weeks, we launched one of our dream projects for 2020, the AMI SME Marketing Hub. It’s a free platform with video content on key marketing and business topics for small business owners and SME employees.

Workdays around the launch could be characterised as chaotic, being in touch with the speakers, video editors and sponsors, designing the platform, working out the processes etc. But it was a huge learning curve and an amazing experience.

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

I think the best to come out of 2020 was the revelation that work flexibility actually works! I’m incredibly lucky to be part of an organisation that respects our choices and lets us determine our pace and work schedules. We have hit KPIs and launched several new initiatives successfully despite not being in an office since March 2020. 

Personally, I love the flexibility. The initial days were tough, especially with a 4-year-old, but like everyone else in this situation, my husband and I worked out our own system. My colleagues and superiors also gave me the support and more importantly, the comfort to work the way I wanted to.

This empathy directly translates into me being calm, positive and understanding in all my interactions with members, stakeholders and even family.

It’s also crucial for me that I don’t lose perspective and so even though some days are difficult, I’m always grateful for the position I’m in and everything I have.  

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

I ask myself four questions;

  • Am I excited about my life?
  • Am I looking forward to work?
  • Am I eating healthy and do I feel good about my well-being?
  • Am I content with myself as a parent / spouse / family / friend?

Most importantly, I understand that it’s a work in progress. My goal each day is to be able to answer “yes” to at least 3 of these questions. 

Since I’ve had a bit of Monday anxiety in the past, I use a few tricks that help me start the week on a high note;

  • Waking up early (4-5 AM) on a Monday morning to get a head start on my emails and key priorities for the week. 
  • Maintaining a To-Do List and striking off as I complete tasks.
  • Planning activities with my son for the week. It can be reading, crafting, learning a new song or going out for a walk.
  • Taking care of household chores (cleaning, laundry and a bit of meal prep) over the weekend.

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

Starting my day early has been a major positive change in my life this year. Even if it’s the weekend, just being up at sunrise and enjoying a quiet cup of tea gives me that “me-time” and sets me up with a positive mood for the whole day.

And generally, I think being in a pandemic has changed us all in a few ways and also enabled us to come up with creative solutions to the little problems / inconveniences in life. 

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

One of my all-time favourite books is Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom. It’s a little book packed with life lessons, most of them about balance in one’s life and what eventually matters.

I don’t really follow a lot of podcasts but one that I find really relevant to my work is The Membership Guys by Mike Morrison.

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

Definitely my Fitbit, the gadget and the app both. Not because I’m a health freak, far from it, but just the convenience.

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

Maybe this has to do with her recent demise, but I’m fascinated by the life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, especially her younger years as a law student, mother and primary caregiver for her ailing husband. That’s a work-life balance I find absolutely inspiring. 

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

Getting the best of both worlds happens to a lucky few. Everyday you will need to prioritise, sometimes in favour of work and other times for your personal life. It’s fine if the lines are a bit blurred. 

Have a moral compass in place, for me it’s my husband, mom or best friend, who frankly lets you know if you’re straying too much. And if they do tell you, listen.

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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.