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Interviews / Marketing & Advertising

Balancing the Grind with Kelly Ryan, Head of Marketing and Communications, Australia and New Zealand, at Tata Consultancy Services

Kelly Ryan is the Head of Marketing and Communications, Australia and New Zealand, at IT consulting services company, Tata Consultancy Services.

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

I shape and execute growth strategies that propel large enterprises to new heights. As Head of Marketing and Communications, I focus my efforts on transforming the brand experience, driving business growth and innovation, and leading global teams. 

I’ve had the pressure of leading teams across the world to drive growth and customer experience for two decades working across Australia, Asia, UK, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

In my current role I work for one of the largest transformation and growth giants in the world – Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). I lead its marketing strategy across the Australia and New Zealand regions and have the privilege of telling their purpose driven story in the local market. 

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

No two days are ever the same! It might start with calls with the New York team in the morning to discuss one of our marathon sponsorships. At TCS we’re extremely passionate about supporting the communities in which we operate.

For example, closer to home we work with the Indigenous Marathon Foundation (IMF) to help address chronic disease, build pride, create inspiration Indigenous leaders and generate awareness of the importance of looking after yourself in remote communities across Australia.

The app we helped launch opens up opportunities for individual runners to be a part of the online running Deadly Running community providing indigenous Australians all over the country with an opportunity to get onboard. 

On the other end of my day I might finish with a call to the UK talking about growth opportunities for a specific sector in the ANZ market and how we can leverage best practice from other regions.

 In between I’ll be on the phone a lot – checking in with the team, talking to our business partners about client projects, supporting RFPs and working with agency partners across media, content and social campaigns.

To start each day in the best possible mind frame, I train in the morning. We also have a very demanding Cocker Spaniel puppy who loves the outdoors and especially loves it when he joins me for a walking meeting. When I close my laptop and end the workday, I love to cook. It’s my creative outlet and I’m always experimenting with some new recipe. 

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

Working for a global company, we’ve always had a location independent approach to how, where and when we work. Flexibility has always been an important factor for me.

Some weeks my diary is definitely busier than others. At the end of each week I take some time to reflect and plan my week ahead around my work schedule making sure I’m still factoring in my life demands there too.

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

I don’t believe in work-life balance. Instead I focus on balancing all aspects of my life of which work is an important part.

Goal setting has always helped me maintain this balance. Each year I set out my life goals. From recognising what I want out of my platonic relationships with family and friends to my finance priorities. I also dive deeper into my personal goals whether that’s learning a new skill or investing in something I’ve always wanted to do like conquer my fear of heights. 

Finally, I look at my work goals and reflect on what I want to achieve in my career. While setting these goals I make sure to look at how each of these areas complement each other so I set myself up for success. The quickest way to become unbalanced in life is to set unachievable goals. 

After I set my bigger intentions for the year ahead, I also focus on one to two monthly goals. These can relate to any category and are sometimes really simple like completing my tax or spending more time with family. 

During my workday, I try to achieve balance by blocking out time in my diary to respond to emails once a day and take at least one to two meetings a day as walking meetings. I also set specific goals for what I want to achieve in the role and revisit/refine them every six months to make sure I am still heading in the right direction. 

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

Lockdown has helped me slow down and reset. Working from home I am really disciplined about maintaining the same routine I have always had but more flexible in how I manage my day.

I also make sure I create space between the different aspects of my life through daily rituals. At the start of the workday, I set up my desk.

Once I’ve finished, I pack my laptop away so it’s out of sight to create a distinct physical and mental boundary between the workday and my relaxation time. I then light a candle, get changed out of work clothes into something more comfortable.  

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

I’m an avid reader. Podcasts are either true crime or well being related – I really like the Adult Chair. If you haven’t read a Brené Brown book, do yourself a favour and add it to the list. I also love Australian fiction – we have some incredible writers in this country.

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

The health app on the apple store – I check my steps every day.

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

In my role, I get to engage with senior executives and board members from  across the world. When I get the opportunity, it’s the top questions I ask them.

I had the opportunity to have a coffee with the Chairman of the TATA Group when he was last in Australia – he runs over 30 companies operating in more than 100 companies across 6 continents. It’s fair to say he’s busy. While most people would have used this time to talk about business, I asked him the most important question, how do you balance it all?

His answer really resonated with me.  He simply said that no matter how important that board meeting is or the looming deadline, if his family contact him, he steps out in these moments as they wouldn’t be calling if it wasn’t serious.  

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

Balance is what works for you. Create your own plan. Just make sure that you haven’t created an upside-down triangle that isn’t sustainable in the long run.

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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.