Maria Gonzalez is the Marketing Manager at Berkley Insurance Australia, a specialist insurer providing brokers with excellence in service, expertise, security and support.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I slowly evolved into marketing. Being a natural creative I started my work life off as a florist, with the love for decorating weddings and events. I then moved into event management and working with some inspiring women in marketing I decided that was the path for me.
Since then I have been lucky to be a part of some transformational and industry changing projects in various industries including Information Technology, SaaS, finance and logistics.
Only recently moving into the insurance space with my current role at Berkley Insurance Australia (BIA), a specialist insurer providing brokers with excellence in service, expertise, security and support.
The BIA motto is local underwriters supporting local brokers, this fits perfectly for a company that has an inclusive family style culture.
Unlike other insurers our underwriters want to talk directly to their clients on the phone and even if they can’t bind with us, they are just happy to provide advice and help in any way they can to find the best solution for the client.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Currently I am working from home and my days have slightly changed. I try to wake up before my 12 month old at around 5.30 – 6.00 am (depending on how rough the night was with my little one) if I am lucky I will go on a walk on get a yoga session in.
If my daughter wakes up early or I sleep in I will usually take her on a walk at lunch time. Then it’s pretty much madness trying to make her breakfast while she is trying to climb out of the highchair and throwing what I can on her tray to keep her at bay.
Since I am up early I start my work day around 7.30, it’s a great time to get so much done before the influx of emails, calls or meetings for the day.
Now working remotely my day includes WebEx meetings and lots of phone calls. BIA has been really active in keeping staff engaged and regularly hold activities to keep different departments connected such as monthly movie club, book club and virtual trivia.
The best thing about my role is that every day is different and this new flexible work life means I can work earlier or later when I need to and not have to worry about the commute and childcare pick-up times.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
When COVID-19 came around we all had to quickly adapt to remote working.
At first I found it a bit of struggle especially being two months into a new role and juggling an 8 month old, two weeks in, I was loving it. I got my desk sorted, new shelving put in, a new screen and all the essentials I needed to make it feel like my own office space.
Like most companies, BIA made sure everyone had the necessary equipment, remote server access and ongoing IT support. Now when I sit at my desk I am in work mode, I couldn’t handle trying to work from the lounge or the dining table. I needed my own dedicated space!
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
The key to perfecting work life balance for me is setting daily tasks, sticking to my set work hours and working from my dedicated work space. I also try to set aside personal time, like making myself an indulgent lunch or going to make that coffee and taking a walk in the sun to clear my mind.
Also the fact that my employer encourages this type of behaviour means you have no guilt or feel like you should be taped to your desk nine to five.
When you need to work late or out of regular hours it is you can and if you need to run an errand you can. It’s all about the work you deliver and if you are meeting your objectives or KPIs.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Yes, I have been trying to commit to some type of exercise every day. Whether it is a walk or yoga I try to get at least 30 minutes of some type of activity a day in.
If I was not working from home I would have gotten that extra push to improve my lifestyle.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Podcast – Marketing School with Neil Patel and Eric Siu
Book – Influence by Robert B. Cialdini
Learning – Berkley has a great online learning tool Brainer that has some great 20-30 minute session on almost every topic.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Well clearly it’s my phone, my life is on there. Photos, social media, work, emails, connecting with friends and family. What would any of us do if we did not have our digital vices especially during a pandemic.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I think it would be great to read one about Michelle Obama. She represents a strong, intelligent and compassionate woman that are strong traits to be admired. On that note her book is on my “to read” list.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Do what works for you. Work life balance is different for everyone and being true to yourself and what you need, to get through this new normal.
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help, advice or just someone to talk to, I found that people are more receptive than ever especially when human connections are far in between.
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