Interviews, Marketing & Comms

Balancing the Grind With Bianca De Candia, Senior Project & Brand Activation Manager at Pacific Magazines

July 9, 2019

Bianca De Candia is the Senior Project & Brand Activation Manager at Pacific Magazines, a magazine publisher owned by Seven West Media.

Balance the Grind spoke to Bianca about her media career, working at Pacific Magazines, trying to figure out work life balance in a busy role, blocking out emails, and more.

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

Media has been my passion since completing a degree in Journalism & Media Communications from the University of South Australia and various internships in the industry waaaay back when!

At age 21 I joined Pacific, working across marie claire & InStyle firstly as a Marketing & Advertising Coordinator, and then climbing up the ladder as the Marketing Executive across marie claire & InStyle. I found my passion in marketing and decided that was to be my career focus despite a degree in journalism.

At marie claire & InStyle I worked with some amazing women and had a principal hand in managing industry leading events and campaigns such as the marie claire Prix de marie claire Awards, marie claire’s 20th birthday campaign & the InStyle Women of Style Awards just to name a few.

After four years at Pacific, I returned to my hometown of Adelaide to take on a new role as Global Marketing Manager for Australian Fashion Labels, managing a portfolio of six brands across Australia, China and USA.

I missed media and the hustle and bustle of Sydney, so my Pacific family welcomed me back into my current role as Senior Project & Brand Activation Manager!

This role sees me as the core liaison between clients and Pacific’s brands, project managing all campaigns with sponsorship and activation elements for our large-scale properties and bespoke events.

What I love about my role is the diversity of campaigns, strategies and ideas that emerge through the lens of sponsorship activation and project management.

This is a growing part of Pacific, so I would ultimately love to build a team over time to deliver this for the business.

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

As the Senior Project & Brand Activation Manager at Pacific magazines, I am the core liaison between clients and Pacific’s brands (specifically marie claire, InStyle & Women’s Health).

I project manage all campaigns with sponsorship and activation elements for our large-scale properties and bespoke events.

Day to day I am involved in getting briefed on new client campaigns that might see me working across conceptualising a video series (for example) with the my creative team, or working really closely with my marketing and editorial teams to bring them up to speed on a recent campaign that might have been sold in that involves their input.

As a project manager, I work with a lot of different teams including my digital, social and creative teams as well as the advertising, marketing and editorial team.

I need an army to get a campaign off the ground, and it is my job to delegate the tasks and ensure that everyone is fully briefed and across what they need to be doing at any given time.

If something is not reaching its target goal, it is my responsibility to work with that specific internal team to come up with optimisation plans to ensure the campaign will be on the trajectory to deliver or even over delivery for our clients by the end of the campaign period.

My role is first and foremost client facing, I could be managing up 20+ clients at one time, so emails are the bread and butter to how I mainly communicate with my clients daily.

It’s important for me to always be easily accessible to my clients and agencies and ensure I deliver the very best service for them.

Sometimes it feels like I need to stretch myself across so many people to ensure everyone is getting what they need from me!

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

I know this sounds so cliché when I say this, but honestly no day (or week) is EVER the same. I have had so many event heavy campaigns as of late, so it’s seen me work across events for marie claire, Instyle & Women’s Health almost every fortnight since mid-May!

A recent week saw me start the week off early morning for an event with Women’s Health & Melrose Health. The event was hosted by Rachael Finch and was held at The Boathouse in Shelley Beach (NSW).

Two days later, I was on a full day video shoot with my client Samsung promoting their all new Samsung Galaxy Watch Active with DJ Tigerlily – you can watch it here.

Sometimes I feel like I am forever in meetings both internally and externally. Meetings might range from conference calls with clients to update them on their campaigns, what’s gone live, what’s coming up, or simply just to keep them updated on what is going on with their campaigns.

I am also always keeping in close touch with the marketing teams across marie claire, InStyle & Women’s Health. My role is pivotal in what they are also working on and I act as the client touch point internally to ensure the objectives of my client are being heard and considered throughout every editorial conversation.

I love that my job also sees be being out and about meeting with clients, presenting back to clients at the end of a campaign and allowing me to constantly grow my network!

To be honest, there is never a week that goes by where I am not out running from meeting to meeting with clients. This can also lead to some hectic days and not a lot of desk time, which means lots of catching up on unanswered emails and workload!

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

I feel like I am still on my personal journey to perfect my workload and crazy schedule, but I am always open to learn new ways that I can implement tips and tricks into my everyday life! A few that I do implement that absolutely help me stay on track are:

1. I love to get into work early. To be honest, while I don’t want to enforce working hours you don’t officially need to, but getting in early at approx. 7:30/8am means that I can sit in silence with a cup of coffee and just get a head start on sending the important emails that I need to send that day.

The moment that 9am strikes and the hustle begins, it becomes pretty hectic and impossible for me to get a moment like that to properly sit down and tackle the inbox until MUCH later in the day.

2. My team has started to implement a 9am stand up which has definitely help us vocalise some of the challenges we might be facing each day with our campaigns/clients.

This keeps the dialogue open to ensure everyone is across what is going on and we always manage to help each other come up with ways to overcome!

3. When I know I have some big presentations/documents to start or finish (which I so easily procrastinate on when it becomes a little hectic) and sitting at my desk seems just too distracting, I block out some time away in my diary, book a meeting room and just sit there until I feel I am in a stronger position with it all.

4. I am a little OCD and hate leaving the office after a day of work with unread or unanswered emails in my inbox. If an email pops up during the day that I feel is important and needs dedicated time to respond to, I will red flag it and ensure that it’s the last thing I attend to at the end of the day.

Mornings and evenings before I head home are my main times of attending to my inbox. The hours during the day are dedicated to my teams, being in meetings and ideating.

5. Being organised is first and foremost the most important thing as a project manager. That being said, I am nothing without a structured to do list.

I find that I need to write my to do list for the next week on a Friday afternoon so that when I walk in on a Monday morning I can hit the ground running. I organise my to do list by client & then tasks for that week.

I only put items on the list that I know I need to action during that week – never something that will mean actioning in two weeks’ time.

It’s all about the feeling of accomplishment when you tick something off your to do list, so if I have something sitting there that won’t be crossed off for another two weeks, I do not feel accomplished at all!

Anything super urgent that I need to address first and earlier on in the week are always highlighted in orange so that I know those are the things I need to focus on first and foremost.

6. With a very meeting heavy job, I always like to ensure that the meetings are productive. Sometimes I feel like people just have a meeting for the sake of having a meeting, and nothing gets accomplished.

I always like to walk into a meeting that I am leading with an agenda. A printed document that outlines all the elements that I want to discuss helps me keep everyone on track. Thorough note taking is also a huge help!

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

The barriers definitely cross here and there between what is a healthy balance and a pretty intense work heavy time.

Having a job that is predominantly events focused sees me either working super early in the morning for a day time event, or until midnight for an evening event. I try to implement a few rules for myself (that are sometimes broken, I have to be honest).

1. I do not look at my emails until I walk into the office. I force myself not to open emails on my phone when I am sitting in bed at night, after my alarm goes off in the morning or even on weekends.

I try to completely switch off. Don’t get me wrong, there are times where I do dedicate a Sunday afternoon to do some work, but that’s either after a VERY busy period when I feel I have no choice.

It actually helps be get a head start so I am not waking up in the middle of the night thinking about all the work that needs to be done.

2. I have started to do more for me – it definitely helps with that balance. Whether it’s a big walk with a colleague in the morning before or after work to clear my head, or making sure I make the most of the weekends with my partner.

I am also about to start a meditation course as well. That’s never been something I have been into or even been able to do, but I am a woman on a mission to learn how to tackle meditation!

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

I am yet to meet someone who can honestly say that they have the balance perfectly nailed. I don’t think anyone who works in a fast paced environment or industry, and also has the goal to climb that corporate ladder would say they have it all figured out.

You don’t want one thing overpowering the other and the important thing is to ensure that the tilting weights straddle a balance – most of the time.

It’s so important to have a healthy mix of work and pleasure and making sure that yes, while I love to discuss my day at work with my partner, I know when to switch off and focus my attention to him.

The juggle is only going to get more and more hectic the older I get. Throw children into the mix and you might have to re-interview me in five years from now to see my answers!

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?

Hard work has always been instilled in me and the people I surround myself with. Both of my parents are incredibly hard workers, and so that notion of working hard and keeping my mind active has been instilled in me from the get go.

My close friends are also in the same boat as me, we all strive to work hard and play hard! We love a wine at the end of a week and shake off the week together.

My partner is also an incredibly hard worker. I am trying to rub off some of my work life balance over to him, because having a career in finance – he probably finds it harder than most to know when to switch off.

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

No specific books per se, but I am obsessed with following young entrepreneurial women who are hitting the ground running in their careers.

This honestly fuels me with motivation and inspiration to work hard!

The likes of Leandra Medine (The Man Repeller) and Emily Weiss (Glossier) – just to name a few are leading the way in their careers being young, powerful and successful women!

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

I always like to keep on the front foot and really organised. I think waking up early is key – while it’s so hard at the moment being super cold and dark, once I am up it’s a great feeling. Dressing the part and making an effort in my appearance is also key.

Working for leading brands like InStyle & marie claire, and working with some impressive and luxury clients like Audi, Veuve Clicquot, Georg Jensen (just to name a few) – I need to look the part.

If I feel good and have that confidence in myself, then I exude that in everything that I do.

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

I think I have covered everything! I certainly don’t have it all worked out, but I am always on a mission to do online tutorials or hear what others around me do to keep on track and on top of things.

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