Interviews, Marketing & Comms

Balancing the Grind With Brianna Ragel, Head of Marketing and Communications at Link Housing

July 24, 2019

Brianna Ragel is the Head of Marketing and Communications at Link Housing, one of the oldest not-for-profit community housing providers in NSW, and now managing 3800 homes across metro NSW.

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

I started my career in media. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to step up to Magazine Editor and Advertising Manager of an international fashion magazine at a young age.

This launched nine exciting years working in Sydney and London with some of the most talented photographers, journalists, stylists and creatives, as well as innovative brands and clients.

Eight or so years ago, I returned to study full-time and did my MBA at the Australian Graduate School of Management (AGSM).

The extra qualification and vast AGSM network allowed me to successfully transition into consulting and corporate roles for the likes of Brainmates, PwC, Pitney Bowes and Fronde.

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

I recently left consulting for a role in the not-for-profit (NFP) sector. Previously, I was on an NFP board and found it to be a satisfying experience and an interesting space; particularly, with the privatisation of some government services and policy changes.

So, when the opportunity arose to establish the marketing and communications department at this NFP, I jumped at it.

Because the department is still relatively new for the organisation and due to the nature of what we do, stakeholder management, collaboration and change management is an essential part of my role.

I’m proud that we’ve been able to take the organisation on a journey to roll out some big projects over the past year. For example, a rebrand, digital marketing strategy and new website.

But there is still so much to do. Day to day, my time is split between BAU and projects to continue to develop the marketing and communications function, as well as to support the business’ growth agenda.

As a small team responsible for the organisation’s brand, marketing and communications (internal and external), we definitely punch above our weight!

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

I enjoy being hands-on in my role, so my days are quite jam-packed. On an average day, I can be found juggling meetings, emails, ad hoc and new service requests, coaching and supporting my team – and then also trying to find time to complete tasks that I am responsible for.

This can be anything and everything from:

  • managing our digital marketing (Google Adwords, e-newsletters, social media, etc)
  • writing and editing content
  • running events
  • designing creative
  • pitching and responding to media
  • campaign development
  • interviewing SMEs and clients for our blog
  • fundraising activities
  • supporting our White Ribbon and other staff committees
  • reporting and corporate communications

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

I’m trained in design thinking, scrum and agile product management and have implemented tailored versions of these methodologies for several teams, as a manager and consultant.

It’s been rewarding to see organisations transformed after adopting practices like daily stand-ups, visual kanban boards and design sprints.

In my current role, I’ve introduced Trello, a kanban board app for task management and prioritisation. The team and I can access the app from any device, at any time, which means there is no barrier to team collaboration.

I have the team’s strategy and KPIs on the board also so we can ensure we prioritise and keep the focus on the tasks that are directly related.

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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?

I aim to start my day with a walk, instead of going to work straight away. I’m also an early riser and the short walk to get my coffee in the morning gives me the time and space for personal reflection.

It’s the chance to consider my own goals and values and review what my day needs to look like to fulfil these. Life is what you make of it, so, I am deliberate in the choices I make.

6) What are some of the things you do to take time out and recharge?

I exercise at least three times a week to de-stress and keep fit. I might go for a run or do a class at the gym near my home.

In my downtime, I also watch Netflix, listen to audiobooks on Audible and music on Spotify. Coming from a musical family, the latter especially, is essential to my day.

On weekends I can be found with my beautiful family and friends. They help me to keep work and career in perspective, and we always have a lot of laughs together.

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?

I’m quite organised and reflective, so when my father introduced me to goal setting at a young age, I took to it like a fish to water. At the beginning of each year, I take time out to set my goals and then regularly review them during the year.

It’s a habit that has always helped me to get to where I want to go. Several books have helped me to fine tune my goal setting. You can find a list of the more popular ones here.

Exercise, volunteering (e.g. I’m currently a White Ribbon Advocate) and creative hobbies like dancing and singing, has also helped me to maintain a balance.

8) Are there any books you’ve read that have helped you with work-life balance?

I take lessons from a variety of books, from fiction to biographies and self-help non-fiction. I read the obvious books to learn what’s new and on trend in terms of tactics and theories to achieve work-life balance.

However, I also like books that drive me to ponder values, human behaviour, humanity and purpose. They help me to maintain perspective. For example:

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

I get up early and ensure I make the first couple of hours of the morning productive. I get much more out of the day this way and feel a sense of accomplishment, having done some of the deep thinking tasks, even before I get to work.

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