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Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Creative Director

For our Day in the Life series, we look at the daily work habits, schedules and routines from people in a variety of roles and careers around the world.

Marina Vasilieva, Creative Art Director at Host/Havas

Marina Vasilieva is the Creative Art Director at advertising Host/Havas, where she has worked with clients such as The Heart Foundation, Sydney Water, NRL and more.

Morning:

Get up at 5:30 in the morning and exercise, read my go-to online publications, make a breakfast smoothie, and get ready for work. If I’m working on any side hustles or proactive pieces, I spend an hour or so each morning chipping away at it. 

I like to make the most of my commute to work and get stuck into a book – it’s my calm before the storm. Right now, I’m reading Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office.

My workday:

Usually I get into the agency around 9:00/9:30. The first thing I do is grab a coffee and regroup with my creative partner to look over and discuss our battleplan for the day, as well as share any interesting articles or inspiration pieces with one another.

From there my day can go anywhere: I could be crafting a single piece of work for a whole day, in back to back meetings with either my internal team or our clients, coming up with new ideas and campaigns, or being in production which could see me working with our design team or being interstate on shoots that span several days.

Evening:

I aim to wrap up around 6 and make my way home. Cooking is a great way to relieve stress, so I try to prepare a healthy meal from scratch each night, enjoy a nice glass of red, and spend some time with my partner.

During my evenings, I use this time to focus on connecting with friends and family, sending them a message or giving them a call to see how they’re doing.

Simon Hipgrave, Creative Director at Hungry Workshop

Simon Hipgrave is the Creative Director at letterpress and design studio Hungry Workshop, and also the Partner at web development company Bone.Digital.

My typical workday is really focused on making sure our projects are delivered with care and attention to detail.

We work with a lot of other creative agencies, studios and freelancers to help them realise projects as well as brand managers, marketers and small business owners – while each kind of client is after something different, it’s all underpinned by quality and craft. The same thinking applies across both digital and print businesses.

I spend a lot of my day in Slack checking in on the teams, providing guidance, direction and support. Otherwise it’s email, responding to new enquiries and helping get projects across the line. And when I am not doing either of those, it’s meetings: presenting to new clients, meeting with existing partners or suppliers, or talking through systems with staff.

Emma Staddon, Creative Director at UNO. Magazine

I work three days a week as creative director on UNO magazine and 2 days on my own branding work for external clients.

5.30am – Up nice and early for a couple of hours to work on branding and packaging design for the USA market, keeps my hand in the game and the strategy muscles strong. As I work from the kitchen dining table my fantastic boyfriend makes me coffee and toast (and often lunch).

BIG W
It’s a party and you’re all invited.

The best in craft and decorations has just landed.

SHOP THE RANGE.

8.30-12.00 – Arrive at the UNO magazine office. We have a small friendly team who roll in at various times depending whats happening in their day. Flexible hours, mean you’re trusted to do your bit.

12.00-1pm – As well as advertising in the mag we use use our clients services! – cue F45 at lunch time, if I’m on the ball this is where I should be, with half the UNO office otherwise its a walk down at the beach to refresh the brain via Mexicali Fresh or lunch at the desk if I’m under the pump.

1pm-5.30pm – Closer to the end of the issue I make time to style/direct photo shoots if needed otherwise I’m in the office laying up pages or working on pitches.

6.30pm – Home! Unwind, hang with my partner, walk the dog, cook diner and indulge in some TV and a glass of wine.

Andrew Fergusson, Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett

Andrew Fergusson is the Executive Creative Director at Leo Burnett Sydney. Prior to that he spent 10 years at Droga5, leading major accounts across the USA, Asia and Australia.

I usually set my alarm to wake up at around 6:30am, but then hit snooze a number of times. Eventually I get up around 7am when my three year old daughter comes in and starts hitting me. 

The next hour or so is a blur of breakfast-making, coffee-sipping and nappy-changing, in no particular order.

My work day starts somewhere between 8am and 9am with a second coffee. Then I might spend an hour or so answering emails and prioritising the day. 

Following that, I’m usually in back-to-back creative reviews, planning sessions, and client meetings until about 6pm (give or take an hour or so).

At the end of my work day, I’ll try and have dinner with the family and play with the kids for a bit before their bedtime. And if I’m very motivated, I might go to the gym after dinner. Otherwise, I’ll watch Netflix with my wife.

Andrew Hankin, Creative Director at Ogilvy Australia

Andrew Hankin is a copywriter-based Creative Director who has spent 20 years working at Ogilvy Australia, with brands such as Coca-Cola, KFC, Pizza Hut, and more.

The boring answer is back-to-back meetings. But even though we do spend a lot of time in meetings, the great thing about being in a creative business is that each day can look very different to the last. 

One day we might be writing a new television commercial for a product on a supermarket shelf, coming up with new ways to get people to eat more chicken burgers or even trying to raise awareness for an important cause like skin cancer.

And each day you might be thinking of these ideas, producing these ideas or presenting these ideas. Usually all three.

Jon Austin, Executive Creative Director at Host/Havas

Jon Austin is the Executive Creative Director at creative agency Host/Havas, where he works with clients like Air New Zealand, the Australian Federal Police, and more.

Right now I’m temporarily based in NZ (more on that in a sec), so my work days are based around Sydney time. That means I start pretty late and end pretty late.

As a single parent, the former is great for school drop offs and organising the kids, but it can also make the latter a bit tricky when you’re trying to suss out dinner and bath-time during peak arvo meeting time in Australia.

A pretty regular day would see me waking up at 6:30, getting the kids dressed and fed and off to school. I try to get to the gym because it helps me think better, so I aim to be done with that and in front of my computer by 10.

Given that’s 8am in Australia, I spend the first hour or so checking and responding to emails and setting stuff up for the day.

From there, we have a daily agency WIP run by our CEO Laura Aldington at 11am (9am Syd time), then a department check in, which gives me a chance to chat with the team about any big projects or issues we’re facing.

If I have any client presentations or meetings, I head into a shared office space, so I can use a big screen and a vaguely professional-looking backdrop. Otherwise, I’m at my kitchen bench for most of the day, overseeing work, having creative reviews, checking in with individuals or having management conversations. 

As part of the Vivendi Group, we’re network partners with Universal Music, Gameloft, Studio Canal and other really interesting organisations, so I’ll often speak to the teams at those places to touch base on any exciting partnerships or opportunities floating about.

I aim to log off and get the boys from school at around 4pm (2pm Aus time), get them home, fed, and showered, and then I’ll jump back on and check in on things for another couple of hours before putting them to bed.

Like I said previously, I’m surrounded by a fucking brilliant team, many of whom are young parents themselves, and their talent, resourcefulness and empathy makes every day, even when I’m in a different country, a real pleasure.

Marcel Moniaga, Creative Director at Isobar

Marcel Moniaga is the Creative Director at Isobar, a global digital agency with offices in 85 locations around the world. 

My alarm goes off at 5.30 am every morning. I take my daughter to her rowing practice a few days of the week before I head back home and get ready for work. On any of the other days, I would either get up and go for a run or enjoy the sleep-in (it’s mostly the latter these days).

After making my mandatory coffee, I normally begin my workday at 8.30 am. This starts with a call to the leadership team where we look at the day’s priorities. Then it’s time to catch up on emails and check any missed messages before the day really begins.

My workday is often very busy and filled with back-to-back meetings, work reviews, hands-on work, catch-ups, clients calls and presentations. The list goes on.

One thing that I’ve noticed since we started WFH, is that we now have more meetings than ever. A chat becomes a meeting that goes in your calendar, and before you know it, you have a day full of meetings and little time for everything else.

So I’ve made the habit of blocking my lunch hour and my productive hours in my calendar, not only to make sure that I have the time to be productive but also to avoid meetings being put over my lunch break (works 5 times out of 10 – if I remember to put them in).

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About Author

Balance The Grind gives me a platform to talk to these people about how they're achieving their ideal lifestyle. I'm inspired by the passion, the work ethic, the hustle; and these conversations motivate me to live life the way I want to live it.