Interviews, Marketing & Comms

Balancing the Grind With Donna Gallagher, Education Programs Marketing Manager at Open Universities Australia

September 17, 2019

Donna Gallagher is the Education Programs Marketing Manager at Open Universities Australia, the market leader for online university education in Australia.

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

Diverse! I worked for 8 years before waking up and smelling the roses so took my first redundancy and travelled for 3 years whilst working out what I wanted to do. Scam back to Australia and studied an undergrad degree, worked in tourism marketing for 7 years

Studied a postgrad degree worked in digital marketing for 8 years, also became a yoga teacher. Took second redundancy and an 18 month career break. Then decided I wanted to do a PHD and work in education where I am now

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

Partner Marketing Manager with Open Universities Australia. Yoga Teacher with Fitness First. PHD student, RMIT University.

Everyday involves work, yoga and study. I rarely know what my day will hold! I plan them but these plans usually go out the window very quickly. Lots of travel visiting universities or attending conferences talking to universities about how OUA can help them attract new students

Working with marketing teams on new campaigns, developing content. Working with sales, IT to bring new universities and programs into our online marketplace

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

My day – Monday 22/07/19 – was a slow day actually:

  • Up around 6am – sit down to breakfast, read BBC online
  • Get to work around 7.30 so I can spend an hour working on PHD
  • An hour – taking, reading and catching up on emails
  • Meet with team to plan week
  • Catch-up with creative agency to discuss new projects
  • Yoga class at lunchtime
  • Write a research brief
  • Review creative concepts for couple of conferences
  • Meet with PR team about upcoming conference presentation
  • Travel home on train – meditation time!
  • 2 – 3 hours working on PHD
  • Dinner with my husband
  • Binge watch something on Netflix

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

  • Don’t procrastinate – just do it. Putting things off only makes life more stressful
  • Be organised and give 100% focus to the task at hand, If you have 2 hours to study, then do 2 hours.
  • If I have a spare 10 mins Ill always do something – put the washing on, vacuum the floor, send an email, plan a yoga class
  • I always unpack as soon as I get home and then repack my bag and prepare my lunch so I don’t have to worry in the morning
  • I cannot live without lists and I LOVE ticking things off! One Ive written something on a list then it has to get done. No excuses.

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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?

Train travel is for mediating! I use my 20 mins commuting time to just breathe. The phone stays in my bag and I just sit and breathe. It makes a nice buffer between work and home and gives time to shake off the day. By the time I get home my mind is clear.

Outside of work I travel my husband a lot. We take about 10-12 trips a year and I get really stressed if I don’t have something planned. I always have at least 3 trips booked!

6) What does work life balance mean to you?

I don’t think there is a clear-cut distinction between work and life – they overlap but work life balance means having the flexibility and ability to work towards your goals.

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?

Strive for success: be persistent and just keep going.

Theres a saying which I have stuck inside my wardrobe door which says: If you knock loud and long enough someone is sure to answer. It’s so true – for me every word I write towards my PHD is a word I don’t have to write again. It’s a slog but eventually the tortoise gets there!

Balance: Sometimes you’ve just got to let go of stuff you’re hanging on to. Whether it’s a job you hate or relationships that aren’t working, or those new shoes you want want but cant afford, if you just let go life is so much easier.

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

Its old and I read it in my 20s but the book which changed my life is Dr Wayne W. Dyer – Your Erroneous Zones.

I’m also obsessed with Mount Everest and so have read Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer many times!

I don’t read novels but love anything to do with travel, mountains and Antarctica.

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

Squeeze in some time for yoga whether its personal practice or a class. In yoga we talk about santosha – which briefly translates as contentment so even if its just looking out of the train window and watching the sunset I try and find time to appreciate whats going on around me.

Someone once told me to “Always look up” and when you do you appreciate how small and insignificant we and our problems are.

As well as how beautiful Melbourne’s architecture really is!

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

Aim high. You are capable of so much more than you might think. But until you try you won’t know.

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