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Balancing the Grind with Amy McClelland, Growth Manager – All 4 at Channel 4

Amy McClelland is the Growth Manager for Channel 4’s streaming platform, All 4, where she is responsible for user platform and comms strategy in order to increase customer retention.

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

I started my career when I was 22-years-old in social media, which quickly stemmed into broader digital marketing. I ended up as an on-camera presenter promoting on-campus lifestyle at universities in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

I always had ambitions to break in to a big media company (and in the earlier days I was obsessed with getting a job at a magazine). My career took a very sharp turn in to something I’d never expected for myself when I got offered a role with Channel 7 as their Digital Editor.

What I wasn’t told during that job interview was that I was being brought on to help launch their new streaming platform, 7plus. This was both the most exciting thing that had happened to me, and the most daunting thing I’d ever walked into. The imposter syndrome was very real.

2.5 years later I was the Digital Content Manager of Australia’s leading BVOD platform. I was thrown in the deep end from the beginning, I’d never been around Product Managers or developers before so it was like learning a new language.

Since then I’ve created digital strategy at a national scale for a major broadcast network, been nominated for the B&T 30 Under 30, and launched and maintained a digital product I’m proud of.

In early 2020 I made the move from Sydney to London to start on my new role as Growth Manager for Channel 4’s streaming platform, All 4.

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

My days are very different, and very fast-paced. I’m usually getting to the end of the day and wondering what I did!

Prior to the pandemic hitting London, my days were very structured – I’m meticulously organised at work, and being in an environment where one mistake has the potential to impact thousands and thousands of people, it’s the only way to stay ahead of things.

I’m usually in the office by 8:30am with a coffee being the first thing on my list. From here I check my meetings for the day and check my Trello board to see where I got to with yesterdays projects. I’m a colour-coder, so everything has it’s spot in the list.

If I’m lucky I’ll only have 2-3 meetings a day (very lucky!), which means I can sit at my desk and get stuck in. My job is all about analysing user-behaviour and feeding data it in to strategy models to project how they might react to certain changes in the platform. My work is very consumer-psychology based and evidence driven.

We’re constantly reviewing, constantly iterating on what we do, ever-agile. If it’s not broken we’ll probably try to break it.

By the end of the day I’m running out the door to get to the gym before it gets too crowded. Working out at the end of the day is the only thing that brings me out of the work crazy.

I don’t think we live in a time where the strict 9-5 hours can get the best out of people – especially in product development!

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

What’s very weird about my life in London is that it exists solely in quarantine. I had about 3 weeks in the Channel 4 office before we were sent home indefinitely.

Having said that, my organisation is very forward-thinking and has a really employee-first attitude when it comes to maximising their happiness and productivity.

In a non-COVID world I’d be working from home once a week, which is a great way to get life admin done, but also just re-centre my priorities for that week.

I find that my physical environment has a major impact on my productivity. I do a wider range of work in the office, but I focus on my priorities at home.

From a mental health perspective I’m an advocate for companies that have a work from home policy. I don’t think we live in a time where the strict 9-5 hours can get the best out of people – especially in product development! We do our best work when we’re able to stretch our legs.

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

I have a recently changed perspective on this from having pushed myself very hard over the last 2-3 years. Mostly because it led to the biggest burn out I’d ever experience.

Granted, my career was kicking off and I was becoming successful, but I had no social life to speak of, and very little to look forward to on the weekends. My life was my job, and that was it. It was a period of acute unhappiness, despite my success.

I went on a holiday to Scotland with my family and there was a moment in Edinburgh when we were walking to dinner and I just stopped in the street and burst into tears. It was the first time I’d slowed down in years and my mind was starting to catch up with my body, and all I felt was exhaustion. I decided I’d never let myself get to that point again.

I don’t believe success comes at the expense of happiness. For me they are one and the same, and I can’t have one without the other anymore. Since that point achieving this balance has been easy, I can pinpoint the moment I’m becoming too caught up in a work problem, and I walk away from it.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Keep organised: the only way I could keep tabs on my progress and priorities was to be as organised as possible. I colour code everything, meetings in Outlook, projects in Trello, and I have a grasp on what my priorities are. This also includes my workspace, I can’t work in clutter.

Stay calm, listen, empathise: some work environments can be tense when there’s conflicting opinions and priorities, and when that happens your best tool is diplomacy. If you can practice removing your emotion from a situation it becomes very easy to navigate. It also strengthens your relationship with every person in the room because you tried to strike compromise. It’s a skill that I constantly practice and try to improve on.

My absolute number 1 tip is: learn to say no. When I started my career I was so convinced I didn’t deserve to be there, so I said yes to everything and everyone to ‘earn’ my spot. Once I learned to push back and protect my own work, everything changed. That’s not to say don’t collaborate, but I think young career-women have a habit of being people pleasers. You’re not there to please people, you’re there because you’re damn good at your job. Say no.

The work-life balance feels like less of a chore when your work brings out your passion. You’re not meant to feel like you’re stuck. Trust your instincts and change what doesn’t feel good.

6) Are there any books that have helped you improve over the years?

Books

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
  • Kick Ass – Mel Robbins
  • Girl, Stop Apologising – Rachel Hollis
  • The Fitness Mindset – Brian Keane
  • Everything Is F*cked – Mark Manson
  • Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg

Podcasts

7) What is the number one thing you do to make sure you get the most out of your day?

Break down the problem and prioritise. That’s it. My work is project-based so the size of it can overwhelm you unless you focus in on one thing at a time. If you try to stand back and look at the big picture like one big problem you’ll freeze up and get nowhere. I have to remind myself to stop, slow down, refocus.

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

Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

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

The work-life balance feels like less of a chore when your work brings out your passion. You’re not meant to feel like you’re stuck. Trust your instincts and change what doesn’t feel good.

Before you go…

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If you’d like to have a conversation with us about how you balance the grind, get in touch with us.

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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.