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Balancing the Grind with Adam Freedman, Practice Head at Red Havas

Adam Freedman is the Practice Head at communications agency Red Havas, where he works with clients like Heineken, Coca-Cola, Booking.com and more.

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

I have spent more than 13 years in PR, both in the UK and Australia, moving to Sydney in 2011.

After completing a year’s worth of work experience in journalism and PR, I was offered a role at the final company I did work experience at: a small lifestyle and entertainment agency, Henry’s House (which became House PR) in the heart of London’s West End.

After joining full-time, I quickly spearheaded the launch of the agency’s dedicated social division with a focus on optimising communication on social networks, message boards and product review sites right when they were just emerging.

That was while I was also getting stuck into consumer PR. Memorable moments include:

  • promoting a giant rugby ball in central London to promote the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand
  • making headlines for American Idol each week
  • leading the story machine for leading music events which included an annual one-day event – T4 On The Beach – with more than 40,000 people on a beach
  • having a rock and roll night out with Oasis’ Noel Gallagher

I have been at Red Havas (formerly Red Agency) for the past 9 years, starting as an Account Manager before having responsibility for leading the Sydney PR team and driving our Consumer Practice. I have been proud to lead a number of critically-acclaimed campaigns.

These have included the environmental campaign, the Palau Pledge, which has won dozens of awards around the world for its domestic and international impact; launching the COVID-safe Heineken’s Zero Contact Bar for Heineken 0 while restrictions remained in place; banning the sale of two scoops of the same flavoured ice cream for Ben & Jerry’s to support Marriage Equality and making a property dream for avocado lovers – the Avo-Condo – for Booking.com.

There are many more highlights. I love getting creative and making an impact. And most of all, I love a good headline. Especially if there’s wordplay (a subject I did my entire dissertation on at university).

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

My day kicks off at 5.30am (sometimes even earlier) when my little boy tells us he wants to get up so the day needs to begin promptly! I will be on Dad duty in the morning before child care drop-off and then get stuck into work. I have an hour’s commute so a lot of time to get work done in my ‘mobile office’ – and it’s also where I tend to get the creative juices flowing.

I have a lot of meetings. Often one after the other. Zoom, Teams – and then ones in actual real life. Much prefer those but there’s good banter on calls. I do enjoy lightening the mood – you have to have fun with what you do otherwise we’d all go ma.

I’ve got a lot more merciless with meetings, questioning those I really need to be in vs hoping to attend. But I’ve found a good rhythm there.

There are a lot of plans and proposals to write for clients and require deep levels of thought to nail a solid strategy and smart creative. How do we make an impact across earned media and through digital marketing? I talk to my team each day about challenging our thinking and considering best approaches based on the job to be done – and the desire to build brands.

I also aim to spend as much time with my team 1:1 where possible. It’s where you really get to know them and understand their perspectives – really important to me and helps me in thinking how I can help them move forward and enjoy their time as a Redster.

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

I have great flexibility in my role which I need given I don’t live close to the office and have a small child who I like to spend time with. 3 days in the office, 2 days at home is the current set-up and I use commute times wisely so I can complete child care drop-off and pick-up.

Communication is key in this role so as long as I can talk to my team and my clients even when not in the office, then I’m all good.

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

Balance is everything. I put my heart and soul into my work day in, day out but I also have a routine at home to enjoy family life.

In a senior position, it can be challenging to have consistency in finding the right balance but I find a way to make it all work. Little ones in particular are a great way of ensuring you have some form of discipline.

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

My little one dictates my daily routine every day so there have been numerous changes to adapt to! I have been clear with the team when I am having family time and when I’m online and the team understands and respects that.

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

Last Word on Spurs is a great podcast to hear grown men complain about watching and avidly supporting a wildly frustrating football team (my life for 30+ years). Love Mike E and Emma on The Edge for a bit of fun too. In my down time, it’s football (soccer) and comedy all the way for me.

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

Optus Sport app is an essential for me for football purposes. Plus Notes – who doesn’t love that app?

My orange, noise-cancelling Sennheiser headphones (Monkey Shoulder-branded) are a wonderful piece of gear – helps to stand out and give people some colour to look at on video calls.

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

My wife. She is excellent.

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

Listen to your partner, close friends and family. They do know what they are talking about – especially as they know you so well.

Consider what your priorities are in work and life and focus on those things.
And think about what you enjoy: what gets you out of bed every morning? What gives you a boost? And even, who gives you a boost or puts a smile on your face? Do more of the things that give you a lift and spend more time with positive people who will help that feel-good factor.

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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.