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Balancing the Grind with Jemma Wong, Chief Marketing Officer at Huckletree

Jemma Wong is the Chief Marketing Officer at Huckletree, a workspace accelerator and ecosystem builder for innovators and entrepreneurs.

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

I started off as a novice journalist because I was curious and I believed (and still do) in shining a light on truth in our world.

Quickly I realised I didn’t have the heart for it and wanted to be closer to product and service, not just the story, so I transitioned to marketing where I found my absolute sweet spot. I have contributed the last 12 years towards building community-anchored culture brands and bringing heritage brands into new markets for Sydney Opera House, The Australian Ballet, NIKE and AFL.

In 2016 I launched the strategy and brand for the inaugural Women’s League for the AFL (Australian Football League) which was a career highlight and in 2018 I moved to the UK where I am now CMO for startup Huckletree, a workspace accelerator and ecosystem builder for brave innovators and entrepreneurs, bringing together growth strategy, product obsession and a love for story making

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

Well, it starts and ends with a killer playlist to set the energy level for the day. I get out for a run to do some serious mental clearing, empty the expectations from the day before and think through the one thing I want to take on as my big magic mission for the next 12 hours. 

Once I’m in our spaces I always set aside time to get up to speed on results, followed by a call with my fellow exec team on our projections and quarter plans. From there the day is magnetic – I move towards areas where I’m most needed for the business.

This can mean sessions with my team, running agile squads, pitching and being pitched to, working on our data integration project or our wellness brand, meeting new members or teaching founders in our classroom.

The best part of my work is that I get to meet, advise and spend time with some incredible entrepreneurs in our network, learning about their growth plans, lending an empathetic ear, giving brand advice or swapping music. 

I find I’m most creative in the evenings so I carve out time to read through some of the journals I’ve marked, look over creative, brandwatch or sketch something out. I put down my notes app and use my notebook a lot here to jot down things that come to mind or questions that are circling. 

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

I’m fortunate that I can work across any of our creative and curated hubs. Our hubs are themed and each an ecosystem in their own right, filled with founders, investors, brands who are working in the same sector or with the same goal, from Foodtech to VC to challenger tech and Govtech.

These spaces are designed to rewire your thinking, inspire serendipitous conversations or collaborate and open source your ideas.

Depending on the challenge ahead of me, some days I get deep thinking done in our imaginarium, other days I’m in the reading room or sometimes I sit right next to a few of our member companies to help my mind think differently. It’s part intuition, part intention. 

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

It means working towards a whole and fulfilled life and being in love with boundaries. There’s no stopwatch or blueprint on how to do that, so you need to design a life that works for you. It starts with being self aware and honest about your rhythms for success.

For instance I know the days when my energy is low, I know the days when I can work through the night and I work to that pattern unapologetically. It also means letting the day take its own shape. If my marketing team needs me, I prioritise them and make sure I’m present and ready to dive into their world. 

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

This past year I’ve worked harder to be more analogue in my work because I’m over all the screens. My notepad is my happy place, I always buy paperbacks and when my hand is covered in ink, it’s the mark of a good day.

I’ve been spending more time doing walking meetings because it helps me feel in sync with the person I’m speaking to and entirely present. And a small thing that has been a true game changer has been renaming my to do list as my ‘get to do’ list. It reminds me of the opportunity in the day and that my work is a  privilege, not an obligation. 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

Haruki Murakami is my favourite author  – read his work to lose yourself in uncanny worlds mostly set in Japan. I love Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead and I’ve just finished Humankind a Hopeful History which is the book we all need to read right now.

For podcasts I highly recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s Revisionist History or HBR’s Throughline and the usual suspects of Masters of Scale and How I Built This.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My Fitbit, Spotify and moleskine. 

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

Melanie Perkins (Co-Founder of Canva), Elaine Thompson-Herah (fastest woman on earth) and Cindy Gallop. 

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

We’re learning things every second but we barely take the time to think about what we’ve learnt and celebrate the discovery. Do more of that every day and you’ll be instantly fulfilled. Also, give yourself a daily laugh quota to hit, because life is too brilliant and too surprising to not laugh out loud. 

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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.