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Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Ayaan Mohamud, APAC Marketing Director at Impact

Ayaan Mohamud is the APAC Marketing Director at partnership automation company Impact, where she works across PR, events, sales enablement, demand generation, and more.

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

Well I guess you could say that I have a pretty international background. I was born and grew up in Germany, went to school in Zimbabwe and then University in the UK, ultimately gaining a Masters in Marketing.

It wasn’t the best timing as I graduated not long after the GFC recession in 2010 but I was lucky and managed to find a marketing job in a small digital agency. I then moved client side to comScore in London which is where my media experience really began.

After nearly two years, I made my first foray into technology with DataXu (now Roku) before I made the big move to Sydney to become the first APAC marketing hire at Sizmek (now part of Amazon) in 2015.

After four years there I was looking for a new challenge and moved to partnership automation leader, Impact – my current role – as Marketing Director across APAC.

I was brought on board to set up the marketing function across the Asia Pacific region and I’m their first senior marketer in the region so the last 14 months have been all about building, testing, adjusting, recruiting and scaling.

I do everything from PR and comms to events, sales enablement and demand generation so it’s very full on but I love it. No day is ever the same.

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

Although I’m gradually building out our APAC marketing team (we are now two!) I’m still very hands on at both ends of the spectrum.

This means one minute I can be in a strategy meeting as part of our APAC leadership team and the next moment I can be writing copy for a local email campaign or talking to a customer so I can produce a case study to showcase the awesome results they’re getting from their partnership program.  

Last week for example, I had an early start at 6am as I had a call with some members of our global marketing team based in New York, followed by a virtual awards judging presentation (we’re up for marketing technology company of the year in the Mumbrella Awards) later in the morning.

After my lunch time walk along Bondi beach, the afternoon was spent fielding a few media calls about an appointment announcement we’d made about our new Director of Customer Success and Operations (actually Nick appeared in one of these interviews last year), catching up on emails and checking-in on my team.

I then wrapped up my day around 6.30pm and started cooking one of my delicious Marley Spoon meals. Since lockdown, cooking has become the activity that allows me to wind down as I leave my ‘office’ on the dining room table and concentrate on following the step by step instructions on my recipe card.

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

I’m extremely fortunate that even before COVID-19 hit, Impact had an incredibly flexible work policy and I was able to work from home whenever I needed to.

Now, the whole team is working from home (and we probably will until next year) and we are actively encouraged to work flexibly and to structure our days to suit our personal circumstances.

As I often have early morning calls with the US, I’m then able to take some time out to go for a walk in the morning or afternoon and listen to a podcast or audiobook. My amazing boss and APAC Managing Director, Adam Furness always tells us to put our mental health first and figure out what works best for us to stay healthy and energised.

He’s also a big supporter of walk and talk meetings, particularly if they’re internal ones, to get us out and about where possible so I’ve been doing more of these.

Even when I was commuting, I always start the day with exercise so working from home has been great to accommodate even more of that; I’m also a recent convert to F45 now that I have more time in the mornings and I love the community they’ve built in the gym. 

That said, I really thrive on people and ideas and draw energy from in-person connections so I’m looking forward to being able to meet with colleagues, customers and partners again in the not too distant future. My ideal working week would definitely be a hybrid of working from home and a shared space. 

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

It’s all about finding what works for you and what you need to do to bring your best self to work. For me it’s finding a role I love with people I love working with and can learn and grow from.

I know that not everyone is in a position (particularly in the current economy) to pick and choose but I’ve been fortunate enough to always (well, at least in the last few years of my career) seek out companies which allow me to flourish, be creative, work flexibly and feel supported.

At Impact we’re laser focused on outcomes and outputs versus hours. We keep a careful eye on those who are burning the midnight oil too much and Impact really walks the talk. Our global CEO, Dave A Yovanno often references Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard’s book Let My People Go Surfing and is a huge believer in flexible working.

In fact, our entire company was recently given a four day weekend (Friday and Monday as free holidays) to make sure we all had time to recharge and regroup after the intensity of the past few months; we are also having another long weekend in October and then in November before the Christmas holidays. 

Balance for me is also about understanding myself better, listening to my body and consciously doing things for my mental health, energy and clarity — and this keeps shifting over time. Right now, I’m much more into eating well, sleeping early and exercising every day to achieve this, whereas a few months ago it was more about socialising and travel. 

But don’t get me wrong, as soon as it’s safe to travel again, I’ll be one of the first to jump on a plane! 

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

As I no longer have to commute into the city my mornings and evenings have opened up to allow me to add three new subscriptions to my life: F45 gym, Audible and Marley Spoon food delivery. I’ve got to say I’m loving them all. 

I’ve always been quite active and always walked or run in the mornings, but often on my walks I listened to music and now I’m focusing on podcasts and audiobooks instead. And as for the gym, I hadn’t found one that I really liked but with F45 I feel like I’ve found a real sense of community and camaraderie which I enjoy.

I can understand why so many people are evangelical about it! Plus, I also train with one of my really good friends so it’s been a great way to spend more time with her and chat about our days. 

In the evenings I’ve found myself looking forward (for the first time in my adult life) to cooking my dinner now that the ideas and ingredients arrive on my doorstep once a week. It’s been a bit of a revelation to be honest and I’m interested to see where it takes me next from a culinary perspective.

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

Since lock down I’ve become an avid walker so audiobooks and podcasts have kept me company whilst I try to maintain my 15,000 steps per day average. Recent ones I’ve listened to or are still actively listening to are:

Audiobooks

  • Born a Crime – Trevor Noah
  • Untamed – Glennon Doyle
  • Becoming – Michelle Obama
  • Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng
  • Measure What Matters – John Doerr
  • First, Break All the Rules – Marcus Buckingham
  • Start with Why – Simon Sinek

Podcasts

  • Recode Media – Peter Kafka
  • Unlocking Us – Brene Brown
  • Business Wars – Wondery
  • Happy Place – Fearne Cotton
  • Churn.FM – Andrew Michael

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

Like most people, my smartphone and laptop are absolute necessities – even more so during the period of lockdown and now for remote working.

My phone means that I can do ‘walk and talk’ meetings from anywhere – and in fact I’m writing this article in a cafe in Bondi whilst staring out of the window at the water. Being constantly connected has its drawbacks at times but it’s also an absolute life saver. 

When it comes to apps, I’m a passionate music lover so Spotify is my go to and I also find myself often scrolling through Instagram to see what my friends are up to or what’s going on in the world. Other than that it’s Apple podcasts (as I’ve said I’m an avid listener) and Apple health data to monitor my steps. 

When it comes to products, my routines have certainly changed. I’ve been focusing a lot more on self care since lock down and I’m getting much better at taking care of my hair, skin and the food I put in my body. If you have frizzy hair like me then trust me, Olaplex will save your life.

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

As a fellow German I admire Angela Merkle and would love to know how she gets a good life balance whilst being one of the most powerful women in Europe. I’m also a huge fan of the Obamas, especially after recently reading Becoming so I’m always interested to learn more from them.

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

As I live in Bondi, there’s not much that sun, fresh air and salt water can’t solve for me. It’s been where I’ve found my calm and balance during the chaos of the last few months.

Everyone is different so find whatever works for you and make a conscious effort to keep doing that. As my coach, Angela Heise often says, “you can’t pour from an empty jug.”

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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.