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Balancing the Grind With Alex Bundock, Digital Experience Director at Spark Foundry Australia

Alex Bundock is the Digital Experience Director at Spark Foundry Australia, one of five global media agency brands within Publicis Media, with offices across the U.S., UK, MENA, Poland, Australia and China.

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

After doing an internship in investment banking at the tender age of 18, decided finance wasn’t for me and went to uni.

Post university and living in London worked in Music content and PR where I found my way into the world of site optimisation and analytics.

After a couple of years in a London digital agency, I decided to do what everyone else was doing and move to Sydney. Although, I will stress, I have never lived in Bondi.

In the 7 years since I got off the plane I’ve been working in the same place – although the agency and role has changed massively!

I joined when the agency was still the indie darling Match Media and was a sum total of 35 people – now we’re 200 and part of Publicis Media as Spark Foundry.

My role is Digital Experience Director (Content, CRO, SEO, UX) managing a team of 5 directly as part of the broader Consumer Experience function as Spark.

Some of our current clients include TAL, AustralianSuper, Cancer Council NSW and Royal Caribbean.

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

It’s about as varied as the clients and people I work with! My responsibilities cover client and team leadership as well as product development and agency new business.

Here’s today to give you a flavour:

0600-0700 – Club Bike Ride

0745-0830 – Industry reading (Make a conscious effort to try and not read emails before 0830)

0830-0930 – Planning. Catch up on emails and check in with team

0930-1130 – Meeting with other Publicis agencies to discuss opportunities, knowledge sharing and ways of working

1200-1245 – Lunch

1245-1400 – Internal developer session on leveraging Google’s Natural Language API

1400-1500 – Prepping presentation content for client sessions in Melbourne on Tuesday

1500-1600 – Client WIP

1600-1630 – People workshop

1630-1730 – Internal team WIP. Discuss the latest news, client performance, product roadmap and run through team workshop

That’s what my calendar says anyway – in reality it’s never quite that neat.

No one in the building has a partitioned working space of separate office so it’s a constant stream of conversation and discussion.

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

Sure does! The agency and the broader Publicis group have done a huge amount of work in this space over the last couple of years, so we’ve got some really good schemes.

These include being able to flex start and finish times +/- 2 hours a couple of times a week and having an agency wide half day on the last Friday of the month.

There’s also a number of innovations coming in Australia as we prepare to move to our new group offices next March.

The team are free to work how they choose, but honestly, I’m pretty old school in my approach to working remotely. I like a firm divide between the office environment and home.

I have do have a desk and PC setup at home for my side projects and the only work I will do at home is reading or product development. Having said that I do like taking the laptop out to the library if I need space or thinking time.

That being said that, I have used flex over the last couple of months to get driving lessons in and finally do my test.

4) Do you have any tips, tricks or shortcuts to help you manage your workload and schedule?

Nothing ground breaking here, but there are a couple of things I use consistently:

Colour coding calendars

This may sound vaguely ridiculous, but my calendar tends to look a bit like one of those evidence boards in old cop shows. Grouping calendar things by broad colours helps me to plan my day and be in the right place at the right time.

Using OneNote

A lot of in the agency use OneNote as our notebooks and WIP trackers. It’s great because it’s so easy to set up, share notebooks with others (always good for action and accountability) and it being on your computer already means you can just copy and paste into emails.

Also a lot better if you have indecipherable handwriting.

Using Asana

Asana is the agency’s project management tool and can’t imagine trying to work without it. Any deliverable goes straight out of the inbox and gets a ticket. Emails get messy!

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

Having something to focus on external to work is a key way that I strive for that work life balance. I encourage the team to have a non-work “side hustle” – quite often for us that means some sort of web based project.

Myself and a colleague are bike nerds and have developed and road bike comparison and content hub called Crank Boutique (cheeky link). I enjoy it because it gets me into the nitty gritty of search and development that I don’t do so much at work as I’ve become more senior.

It also makes me more excited about the fundamentals of our jobs and I’m constantly feeding insights from this project back into the team and work we do for our clients.

6) What do you think are some of the best habits you’ve developed over the years to help you strive for success and balance?

  • No work at home.
  • Regular exercise.
  • Reading. A lot.
  • Having a project or a passion outside of work – different focus, new people, different perspectives.

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

I’ll be honest, if I tend to read marketing or business related books I tend to read them via Blinkist. There’s a lot of good ideas out there, but I wouldn’t expect a client or vendor to spend 20 slides getting to the point so I think a lot of these books can be similarly distilled!

I spend a lot of time reading the latest marketing and technical news though. I use Feedly to organise my reading lists, but there tends to be a few sites that I read regularly:

CXL

Conversion XL is a customer and sales conversion agency, but their regular long from content covers everything from project management frameworks, to data and insight models and technical guides to testing. Very much worth a read if you want to keep on top of how to drive better outcomes from your owned platforms.

Blind Five Year Old

BFYO is a San Diego based search consultant. The content isn’t updated all that often but it is always highly detailed, analytical and often offers a contrarian view on the search industry echobox.

Smashing Magazine

I am definitely not a designer and I’m a very average developer, but so much of what we deliver bleeds into the world of web development that it’s pretty much essential to read at least one publication. My go to is Smashing – lots of great content with additional tutorials and resources.

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

Planning the day. Even if I don’t have that much on, taking 15 minutes at the start of the day to review forces me to focus and makes the output better.

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

Be grateful.

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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.