Anthony Gregorio is the CEO of advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi Australia, where he oversees offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a 25-plus year veteran of the industry. I started as a junior client and got my first agency role when I moved to the UK in the early 90’s. I’ve been agency side ever since having worked at both creative independents and multinationals.
Over that time, I’ve worked on pretty much every category you can imagine; from alcohol to biscuits, banks to cars. My current role is CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi Australia.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I’m not sure I have a typical routine and COVID-19 has certainly changed things dramatically. I’d say an ideal workday in the new normal starts with getting an early walk in with my wife and our Jack Russell ‘Rocky’. This always helps put me in a positive frame of mind.
Then I might drive our youngest to school as we are trying to avoid her using public transport. Then it’s a mixture of team calls with staff or clients, from home or office. I get into the office two to three days a week depending on my schedule, as there are some staff in and I enjoy the face to face interaction.
A benefit of the current situation is I’m doing dinner with the family every evening. And, if I’m lucky, I might fit in an episode of something my wife and I are currently watching before bed. Then rinse and repeat.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Saatchi & Saatchi moved to flexible working (a program called ‘Liberte’ that was implemented across the Publicis Groupe, which Saatchi is a part of) early in 2020. Then COVID hit and we effectively were all working in a flexible way.
I think that the pandemic has shown us that much of what a creative agency does, can be done remotely. However, I think culturally there is no substitute for getting people physically together and I also know that certain times in the creative process, working face to face is imperative to get the best result.
I think even when we get over the immediate health crisis, we will never go back to working exactly the same way as we did pre 2020.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
To me, work-life balance is avoiding the stress of your work life, encroaching on your personal life. To that end, I personally think work-life balance is a pipe dream; at least in the corporate, publicly listed environment that is the modern world for most.
The pressure on margin and efficiency gains means you have to work hard to survive. Whilst finding a small window every day for yourself is imperative to keeping you sane on a daily basis, it doesn’t actually give you balance.
I strive to ensure I find windows to unplug and regenerate, because that balances the frenetic pace when I’m ‘on’ at work. Regular holidays and short breaks where you literally do nothing associated with work are crucial to balancing the pressures of the daily grind.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have searched out things from my past that I used to do that made me happy. Playing guitar is one, even if I’m rather quite average at it.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
The Red Hand Files. A blog by Nick Cave. He answers questions from fans. Insightful, funny and often deeply moving.
For over 30 years I have enjoyed Roy & HG’s satirical, uniquely Aussie, sports-based humour. It hasn’t moved on much, but it still makes me smile.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
iPhone and laptop. Two devices that allow you to pretty much do anything from anywhere. Also highly recommend a loop pedal if you’re playing guitar. Helps you sound way better than you are.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Barack Obama. Regardless of your politics, he was someone with integrity that had what must be the most stressful job in the world. I’d be interested to know what he did to remain sane.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
There is an American Indian saying: “courage is fear walking”. In a world full of tension and confusion, there is a lot to be said for waking up each day and just putting one foot in front of the other. Forward momentum is a good thing.
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