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Balancing the Grind with Sophie Nunn, Senior Campaign & Media Lead at Microsoft

Sophie Nunn is the Senior Campaign & Media Lead at Microsoft, where she is responsible for commercial digital campaigns and customer engagement strategies.

Order our Daily Routines ebook today! Featuring first-hand interviews, insights and revelations compiled from 50 of the world’s most successful people.

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

After 8+ years working within media agencies, starting in a graduate role in London before coming to Sydney and progressing to a Digital Director, I transitioned to an in-house role in 2018 as the Campaign and Media lead for Microsoft AU. 

I am the overall campaign owner of our commercial digital campaigns, leading the process end-to end coordinating with internal stakeholders and external agencies.

I am responsible for building integrated digital customer engagement strategies within the broader marketing programs, incorporating paid media, owned social and web journey/destinations, translating those metrics into business outcomes.

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

Exercise is super important to me, I’m not sure I can function without it, so on a standard day I wake up at 5.40am and check my phone for any messages that may have come in overnight from family or friends in the UK before jumping out of bed to get a morning workout in.

A 15 min walk to the gym is the perfect amount of time to listen to The Quicky – a daily news podcast. An hour’s exercise later and coffee pick-up en route home, quick shower and a 3 second commute from the bathroom to the home office (a desk in the bedroom), I am settled and online by 8.30am to start the day ahead.

My role can be very reactive and so whilst I think I may know how the day looks, after having already checked the Teams app frequently upon waking, no matter how much prep I may do it can often take a much different turn.

As each meeting can lead to a new request or change in campaign direction, for this reason I block out focus time in my diary a week ahead between meetings already in place to ensure time is saved aside to action tasks.

My diary is colour-coded based on if I need to prep ahead for a meeting (red) or not (blue), focus time is green and forced daily walks in yellow. I find this helps when looking ahead at the working week.

I am very lucky in my role because I get to collaborate across multiple teams, so each day and task is very different. To keep on top of my workload I write lists and folder everything! If it’s in the inbox it’s an outstanding task for that week and if not, it’s read, actioned, and filed away.

End of day timing varies but what is consistent is always checking my Microsoft To Do app, which gives a very satisfying ‘ding’ as each task is ticked off as the day comes to a close.

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

Microsoft is fully set up with the tech to support remote working along with a fantastic leadership team who have actually always encouraged flexible working hours – even pre-Covid.

This allows you to work the hours and at a location that suits your work day, for example if there is a brainstorming session where you’d get more out of it by being in the office to bounce off each other vs. days filled with dial-in meetings where you’ll be speaking to a screen all day which can easily be done from home.

I once read that if you don’t trust your employee to get the work done, then you shouldn’t have hired them in the first place. I really believe in this exchange where if you give trust [employer], you will get hardworking employees who value that trust too much to ever abuse it.

Throughout my time at Microsoft this flexible way of working really helped to support my side hustle, teaching Pilates Reformer.

Pre-Covid I taught every Sunday in Bondi and in the early days when I was still in training, I had a lot of extra hours to make up in order to get my certification. Being able to work from home meant I could attend a class without stress of the office commute or fear of getting caught at my desk and missing the class altogether.

It also meant I could cover if other teachers were sick last minute – although those days were always the longest working a full day in corporate and then teaching into the evening.

Without the opportunity to take on the extra hours around flexible work arrangements, I would not have progressed at the same speed teaching weekends only. Pilates is something I see in my future, taking all I have learnt in my current career to date into helping people in a totally different way.

Having flexible hours and working remotely meant my current job never had to suffer as hours and output remained the same whilst I was able to learn a totally new skill at the same time. 

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

Work has never been just a job to me, it’s my career and so is something which is a big part of my identity and therefore life. Finding the balance has previously been a struggle and perhaps heightened more recently sleeping and working in the same room during COVID-19.

The lines can easily blur as there’s a real temptation to be online when the computer is right there and your social life is removed. Having been in a situation where I have felt overwhelmed and burnt-out getting this balance wrong in a previous role, I have since learnt to recognise the signs when work outweighs other enjoyments in life.

However a little unbalance does not need to be a major problem, just a reminder to reset on any routines that keep you in check to get the happy balance back. 

Order our Daily Routines ebook today! Featuring first-hand interviews, insights and revelations compiled from 50 of the world’s most successful people.

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

Morning exercise has continued to be non-negotiable! Even if I am in need of extra sleep I will always make time to walk at a minimum just to move. Moving throughout the day can help with mood, clarity and focus too.

I’m certainly not opposed to the occasional handstand between meetings to get the blood pumping and encourage walking WIPs as long as it’s not going to be detrimental to the meeting, for example when a presentation is required.

Writing down gratitude on days when you need to be reminded to see the positive by simply reframing a negative thought or writing down something you are grateful for can be a very helpful habit to start your day too. 

I’m also a big believer in general mindfulness such as meditation, stretching and yoga. I truly believe that ten minutes of meditation is the 1% of your day that makes the other 99% better.

I’ve also been prioritising tech time out! I like to check my phone screen time daily to make sure it is under a set goal to avoid mindless social media scrolling. If you think of the day divided by three with 8 hours sleep and 8 hours working, you have just 8 hours to achieve the rest – and in my opinion looking at other’s lives on social media isn’t as good as working on my own. 

Another one that’s always been important to me is being present when being spoken to (inside and outside of work). There is nothing more frustrating than having to repeat yourself because someone wasn’t actually listening in the first place, so I try to make sure I’m fully engaged in whatever I’m doing at any given moment.

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

Podcasts

  1. Mamamia’s The Quicky – for bite sized news
  2. How I Built This with Guy Raz – for inspiration
  3. The High Low – for topics that matter
  4. Sh**ged. Married. Annoyed. – for a laugh about the realities of life

Books (all can be found on audible)

  1. How Women Rise By Sally Helgense & Marshall Goldsmith
  2. The 4-hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss
  3. What a Time to Be Alone by Chidera Eggerue
  4. The Secret By Rhonda Byrne
  5. First, We Make The Beast Beautiful By Sarah Wilson 

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

  • Microsoft Teams 
  • Audible/Podcasts
  • Whatsapp
  • Magnesium (spray or powder) – good for any anxiety in the day or sleep when taken at night
  • Probiotics – look after your second brain aka the gut

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

Shemara Wikramanayake – first female CEO of Macquarie Bank, with a passion for gender equality, she empowers and inspires women to visualize what their future could look like in a male dominated business world.

Queen Elizabeth II – Head of State of 16 governments and leader of the Commonwealth of 53 nations, as well as receiving over 300 letters from the public every single day. Working for 69 years at the age of 94 she’s had a longer career than most.

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

COVID-19 has been tough on many reaching far beyond those who have contracted the virus itself. Please be kind to yourself and others now more than ever, remembering never to be too busy to ask someone RUOK?

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Order our Daily Routines ebook today! Featuring first-hand interviews, insights and revelations compiled from 50 of the world’s most successful people.
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.