Interviews, Marketing & Comms

Balancing the Grind With Ashleigh Bonica, Senior Account Executive at Edelman

September 4, 2019

Ashleigh Bonica is a Senior Account Executive at Edelman where she works on executing communications strategies across various channels. In addition, she is also a tutor in the Master of Marketing Communications program at the University of Melbourne.

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

When I finished high school I desperately wanted to be a fashion magazine editor, so I started studying Media and Communications at Melbourne University and looked for any opportunity I could to start getting experience in the industry.

I worked part time in retail, completed numerous internships at fashion and beauty agencies and wrote and sub-edited the university magazine, Farrago.

This was around the time that traditional media really started to struggle with redundancies and restructures so I slowly started shifting my studies towards marketing, undertaking a Master of Marketing Communications.

I got my first part-time role in marketing at Two Hands Agency and from there, really started to develop a passion for influencer marketing and social media. Eventually this led me to a new challenge at Edelman where these interests have been able to diversify and grow.

2) What is your current role and what does it entail on a day to day basis?

I’m currently a Senior Account Executive at Edelman Melbourne. My role is really about executing communications strategies for clients and ensuring our team is achieving the best outcomes possible. This could be across earned media, influencer engagement, social media, paid media or even events.

In addition, I also currently tutor in the Master of Marketing Communications program at the University of Melbourne. This involves working with students to help them better understand the reality of the industry and how to apply theory to practice both in class and through their various assignments.

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

It sounds cliché but it’s very hard to describe what a day is like as everyday can be so different. If my day isn’t swamped with meetings, I’ll usually spend the morning creating a to-do list and going through emails to ensure I can have a productive a day as possible.

I’ll usually then follow this with drafting and sending out tailored pitches to media. If we get great feedback on a story, most of my day can be spent liaising with media and organizing the logistics for interviews with our client spokesperson.

More recently, I’ve been planning for an event, so my day usually consists of collaborating with influencer talent managers to create briefs and concepts, liaising with the event manager to confirm all the logistics for the event space, working with my team to ensure briefs, guest lists, props are all under control and then of course, cross checking the budget!

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

Working in such a fast-paced industry it can sometimes be a real challenge to manage your workload as you often have a lot of stakeholders you are being held accountable to – be it internal, clients, media or partners – so over the past few years I’ve really invested in creating strategies that work best for me.

The first one, is having a really thorough to-do list. This helps me keep on top of my tasks, but also feel a sense of achievement and progress when you get to tick something off.

I’ve also learnt the importance of communicating with your team and your clients. If you don’t think you’re going to be able to make a deadline, flag it as early as possible and arrange an alternative – be it getting support from a team member or rearranging your priorities to make it work.

I’m so lucky to have a supportive team that is always able to help you work through any challenges to achieve the best solution for everyone involved.

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5) In between your job, life and all your other responsibilities, how do you ensure you find some sort of balance in your life?

When I went through a really difficult period of my career, I found exercise became my one salvation that gave me clarity and a sense of balance (if only for an hour!).

I started doing Reformer Pilates at beautiful studio in Melbourne and it has made a huge impact on my mental clarity, posture and physical strength. It is one hour that you get to just focus on you and be in the moment without distractions of emails, work, responsibilities.

Most recently, I’ve made a really dedicated effort to more conscious in the food I’m consuming as well – looking for foods that provide me with energy instead of that instant gratification. This is something I’ve tried to do a number of times, but I’ve finally found a platform that works for me.

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

Growing up I always thought that work and career success was the most important thing you could achieve, but after being in the workforce for quite some time I’ve realised that career success is nothing if you can’t enjoy it.

Balance is about prioritising what you love, with what your job demands. You’ll never be your best self at work if you’re not looking after yourself at home, so I’ve become a massive advocate for making time to do what you love – be it spending time with your family or partner, exercising, going for a walk in your lunch break with a colleague.

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

Probably many of those I’ve mentioned above, but it really comes back to practice. Sometimes you have to force yourself to do things in order to make them habit. There have been many times where I’ve had a long, stressful day at work and haven’t wanted to go to my 8pm pilates class, but I pushed myself and felt so much better for doing it after.

This is the main reason I’ve been able to become better at managing stress and anxiety. I’m also a big advocate for being proactive in managing your own mental health, so I have a psychologist I have been seeing for a long time, that I will book in check-ins with when I feel I need it.

Sometimes I’ll check in once a month, other times it might be a year between visits – I just try to be proactive in nipping the symptoms in the bud before they overcome me.

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

I’ve recently rediscovered my love for reading. I think the habit alone is a great way to switch off, particularly before bed, so we aren’t always on our phones.

The most empowering book I’ve read recently is More Than Enough by Elaine Welteroth. As the youngest ever Editor in Chief of a Conde Nast title, she defied every challenge and every stereotype by backing what she believes in, and ultimately was able to use that to make positive change to media and society.

Another book that moved me deeply and inspired me to stand up for what I believe in is Eggshell Skull by Bri Lee. I don’t have the words to describe this book but I believe everyone woman and man should read it.

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

Trying to do at least one thing for me each day, be it taking a fitness class, reading a chapter of my book or switching off by watching an episode of The Bachelor.

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

At the end of the day, you are the only person that gets to live in your own skin, so be your own champion and be in control of what you want in your life because no-one else will.

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