Rose Marie Pengelly is the General Manager at creative communications agency, ARC Factory, where she has been working for nearly 15 years.
Photo credit: Bec Lorrimer
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’m a General Manager of a creative communications agency in Sydney. I’ve been working at ARC, for nearly 15 years where I started as a Junior Publicist and worked my way up to my current role as General Manager. I manage a team of talented individuals, and work closely with my clients on developing integrated strategies.
One of the best things about my job is collaborating with a diverse and interesting blend of creatives, entrepreneurs and visionaries from the best in their field, fashion, beauty, design, lifestyle, entertainment, arts & culture.
I thought the coolest job in the world was becoming a VJ. As a kid from Borneo, that seemed so far out of my reach, so I settled for my two passions, writing and music. It led me to pursue a degree in journalism & advertising at Curtin University in Perth and a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Relations.
The moment I finished studying in Perth, I hightailed it to London and kick started my career working in the music & entertainment industry. I learned a lot quickly; it was incredibly fun and presented opportunities I never would have had in Australia.
That was when I really fell in love with live music, it is just next level over there. From then on, I moved into consumer tech and worked on the global launch of Napster, back then it was the first of its kind music sharing platform. Having soaked up all the experience I could in two years, I made the move to Sydney and have been here since.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Every day is different, which is great as it keeps things interesting and the creative juices flowing.
My mornings aren’t as Zen as I’d like it to be, it’s mostly a mad rush. Before my kids wake up, I’ll do a Pilates workout either at a BodyMindLife studio on a Reformer, and if I can’t get to the studio, I’ll jump onto Fluid Form Pilates At Home.
I get my kids ready for school, do the drop offs and head into work. My commute to work is short, so I use the time to read through any urgent emails. I’ll have catch ups with the Account Managers about job priorities for the day and help out with strategies when required.
The rest of the day is interchangeable, there’s meetings about budgets, cashflows, HR, or meeting with clients on new product launches or brand initiative and brainstorming strategies with my team. Depending on the time of the year, there’s also events and shoot productions.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
We’ve been back working in the office since June, starting off with 2 days in the office to 4 days. Nothing really beats sharing a workspace with my team, the positive environment, the energy, the ideas, the conversations and the music. With the strategic and creative nature of our business, the size of my team and my role, it’s more effective to be working together in one office.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance means that when I’m at work, I’m 110% focused on work and when I’m at home I put that exact same focus on the kids and family. I haven’t mastered it yet, as I still take a while to wind down when I’m at home.
My brain is still in work mode and I need to learn to adjust quicker; my kids need me to be their mum, not manage them. My kids are wonderfully impatient, they have many needs and questions that need immediate attention!
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve learned to be more disciplined and set routines to keep the wheels turning. I didn’t think I was disciplined enough to workout at home during COVID, but I was able to stick to it, resulting in working out 5-6 days per week.
I reduced my time on social media. I turned off notifications from apps that weren’t vital to communicating with family and work. Scrolling became mind numbing at one stage, I was skipping between Instagram, Facebook, TikTok and my emails whenever I was idle.
I also moved my apps around, so it’s not on my homepage and I deleted Facebook off my phone, I can only access it on my home computer.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
- Outlier by Malcolm Gladwell
- Just Kids by Patti Smith
- Thrones of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas
- How I Built This with Guy Raz
- Talk Art
- The Business of Fashion
- Eater’s Digest
- Broken Record
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
These are the essentials apps: email, WhatsApp, Google Maps, Sleep Meditation and gadgets are my iPhone, Kindle, AirPods.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Eva Chen, Derek Blasberg and Julia Sarr-Jamois.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Be self-aware and set your intentions daily and plan out your priorities, they may shift over time but it’s always good to reassess this once in a while.
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