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Balancing the Grind with Christie Ding, Co-Founder & Client Solutions Director at Brand Catalyser

Christie Ding is the Co-Founder & Client Solutions Director at Brand Catalyser, a full service multicultural brand experience Agency specialising in both Australian and Chinese customer acquisition.

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

I didn’t grow up in a family of business owners so it was a real surprise to not only them, but myself, when I started Brand Catalyser (BC) in 2017 – a niche cross-cultural advertising agency focused on customer acquisition in both the Australian and Chinese landscape.

I always picturised myself working in advertising industry, and enjoyed watching every single ad campaigns done by amazing people. I started my first advertising agency job at a boutique digital agency in Melbourne, and grow from a specialist to account manager.

After the company was acquired by Publicis Groupe, I had the opportunity to experience my first company transition in my career, which trained me to be adaptive in all kind of situation.

After many years working with premium Australian advertising agencies, I noticed a glaring gap. Many of our top-tier Australian clients wanted to launch into the Chinese market, but the agency felt the risk wouldn’t pay off, preferring to focus locally instead.

After raising this – and being shot down one too many times – I went against my nature and started BC. And I’m so glad I did as I not only discovered I had the potential, but just two years later, BC is my greatest achievement with over 15 employees and a portfolio of 50+ clients including Alibaba, Poly Australia, Servcorp and Vitaco Group.

A snapshot of key achievements:

  • Launched AusRecent in 2014 with fellow university student
    • A marketing initiative offering small to medium businesses a broad overview of marketing to the Chinese market
    • Also oversaw the Australian Trade Commission’s ‘Win Your Future Unlimited’ global digital campaign
  • Worked with three of Australia’s premium advertising agencies
    • Clients included Medibank, Red Energy, Stan, Myer, AGL and ANZ
    • Led Medibank’s ‘GymBetter’ campaign – shortlisted as Mumbrella’s 2016 Campaign of the Year and added to Facebook’s Success Stories for best practice
  • Started Brand Catalyser in 2017 – a boutique culture-based advertising agency
    • Grown from three to 15 employees in two years, with a client portfolio of 50+
    • Selected as a service provider for the Asia Getaway Program 2020 run by the Victoria Government’s Boost your Business initiative
  • Guest lecturer and tutor for RMIT University’s Advertising Media undergraduate subject
  • Guest speaker at Google & MYOB’s 2019 Startup Grind

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

5:30am

My day would start from 5:30am, after enjoying my morning detox ceremony (haha, it’s just my daily cleansing tea and drinks in the morning after leave my bed), I will head to gym for 1.5 hours training rotate between yoga, weights and cardio training. I love my exercise time, which set my day from with an energetic start!

8am

I will get my breakie on my way to office and ready for my work. I normally get to office around 8 am, where normal starting time is 9:30am, so I’ve got 1.5 hours by myself to reply my emails, company admin, or anything that I do not want to be interrupt.

9:30am – 12pm

Colleagues will arrive to office by 9:30am for our daily team huddle at 9:45am to go through the priority list for the day. My busy day will start from there with back-on-back meetings and calls, but I always have the time for my team whenever they need me, thus our regular catch ups have hardly been moved, (plus I love to catch up with my team over a tea or coffee).

12pm-1pm

I try to take a break during the lunch time, I try to arrange lunch meeting with potential clients or partners for a lovely lunch, sometimes for a quick walk to do some life admin, e.g. grocery shopping to the supermarket, or quick walk to department store to stuck up my makeup room. This is a great time to break my day and get ready for my afternoon.

1pm – 6pm

Continue my work as usual

7pm-10pm

Afterwork, it’s my “me-time”. I recharge myself by catching up with friends/family, and sometimes, I enjoy cooking a nice dinner, or watch a good movie, or even doing house cleaning.

I always turn off my work email after working hour, and really enjoying the moment I have. Before my bedtime, I will catch up some readings of the day by browsing my news app. Do a quick stretch in bed is my fav thing.

10:30pm, bed time

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

Yes, lucky enough the nature of my business is focusing on digital business, so we can be highly flexible and able to work remotely.

My role is set the goal and provide the guidance throughout the journey, support the team where we can! My work needs me to be flexible, as I need to be flexible around my client’s time, and be flexible to be ready for any unexpected situation.

Sometimes, the team needs to stay up and work on the campaign before the due date, so sometimes, it’s hard to make it ‘balance’, but once the campaign finished, we can enjoy ourselves as much as we can.

I love the flexible working and believe it’s the best way of working moving forward. As long as we get our work done, there is nothing else needs to be stressed about.

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

Having a balanced life allows me to enjoy my work and life better, and having a great life also helped me to perform better in my work.

I’m not super stressed of drawing a clear line between work and life, but I try to enjoy every moment that I was doing. I will put my 100% effort to work when I was running the business, but also try not to think any work related stuff when I’m with my family or friends.

5) What do you think are some of the best habits or routines that you’ve developed over the years to help you achieve success in your life?

Exercise – I started my daily training 5 years ago and have continued till now, which helped me to keep a healthy lifestyle and got me enough energy for my busy work.

Reading – Reading is the best way to learn things, read as much as you can, which is building my knowledge bank for future decision making.

Making new connection – be open-minded, and try to connect with new people, start a conversation with people who has different background or experience. I’ve learnt a lot from the people I’ve met along the way.

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

Simon Sinek’s Youtube channel.

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

Set my calendar and prioritise my work for the day in the morning.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba Group.

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

Don’t need to stress too much about drawing a clear line between work and life, when I’m supper passionate about my work/company, I don’t mind answering phone calls after work, I still enjoying writing up proposals before my sleep, this is my life, which is blended together.

Instead of struggling of how to be balance between work and life, we should just enjoy the moment we have.

Before you go…

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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.