Tara Clifford is the Marketing Manager of Brand & Partnerships for Australia and New Zealand at online travel agency Trip.com.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I studied communications and international studies with a Spanish major at UTS, which led me to studying and working in Spain. These experiences really opened my eyes to the world and the wonders of travel.
After returning back to Sydney, I began my career in marketing before deciding it was time to do another stint in Europe so I moved to London.
My first job in the UK was for an eco-tech start-up where I led the hosting of a conference in Cairo, Egypt, which was a fascinating experience. Following this, I moved to a retail-marketing role in the travel industry.
Currently, I’m the Brand & Partnerships Marketing Manager for the Trip.com Group in Australia and New Zealand. Trip.com is a leading global online travel platform and the biggest OTA in Asia.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
If I’m working at home, I usually start my workday between 8:30-9am. Mornings are normally filled with catching up on emails, industry news and actioning anything urgent. I connect with my team regularly throughout the day using our company’s chat platform.
Before COVID, my days normally involved numerous external and internal meetings. However now, like for many others, this routine has transformed with zoom calls and team chats as we adapt to a new way of working.
As I work with colleagues around the world, usually a few times a week we have meetings in the evening from about 6-8:30pm. On those days, I try to exercise mid-morning – noon if possible. Due to the time difference with global teams the afternoons tend to get busier, especially if there’s a major project or campaign.
Before dinner my husband and I enjoy taking our puppy to the local dog park for a run around to keep him (and us) sane. I have also enjoyed cooking and baking a lot more, experimenting with recipes, which also provides a nice mental break from the day. Sometimes I’ll do some work after dinner but if not I’ll try to switch off.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
The Trip.com Group has been supportive and responsive to the COVID situation, allowing its staff to work remotely.
I worked for three months from home and now have the option to go into the office. It is a brand new office space so it was a wonderful experience to see it after previously working in a co-working space, as most companies in ‘startup’ mode in Australia tend to do.
Even before coronavirus, we had flexibility in terms of working hours, with start times varying in the office from 8:30am to 9:45am for a normal workday. It’s motivating to work for a company that recognises the importance of flexibility for productivity and promotes a high energy and positive culture.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I find that when things are going well in one area of life, this reverberates and balances the positivity of other facets of my life as well. I think that true balance is best reflected by energy and excitement for life in all areas.
If I have a good work-life balance, I find I am the most charged and motivated for work. This translates to feeling ready to take on new challenges and being able to engage in work creatively and strategically.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I have changed up my exercise routine from regularly going to the gym and classes to more outdoor runs and at-home workouts.
My husband and I got a dog last year in September and that has been a huge help for staying physically active and has changed up our daily routines with walks, meeting friends and the overall entertainment and positive vibes that a dog provides.
I’ve also recently enrolled in a language course at the University of Sydney which I do on Saturday mornings via Zoom.
Spending more time at home this year (including more Friday evenings) and becoming more accustomed to virtual meetings encouraged me to make my thoughts action.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I have just finished listening to the audiobook Limitless by Jim Kwik. A key takeaway was to make sure you not only set work priorities for your day but personal priorities as well. These can be anything from doing exercise, running an errand, calling a friend or personal study.
I would also recommend audiobooks in general and listening to different types of genres and themes. This is something I’ve gotten into more since the start of the year and I’ve found myself listening to various topics while I do chores, exercise or cook.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Working at Trip.com, I am highly addicted to our travel app. In July I was fortunate to go on a quick trip to Tropical North Queensland, where I went diving at the Great Barrier Reef and explored the Daintree Rainforest.
I used the app to book the flights, accommodation and attractions but my favourite thing was using ‘Trip Moments’, the social platform where you can share photos and experience reviews with our community.
At the beginning of the NSW lockdown, I treated myself by purchasing a Garmin watch to give me some extra motivation to move and better track my runs. It’s been a helpful reminder to get some fresh air throughout the day, as well as to aim for daily step and sleep goals.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
My sister has been working full-time managing a 20 person team while running her own start-up business called Little Baby Blooms – she’s only just gone on maternity leave this week so I would love to read that!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Work-life balance differs for everyone and at different points of life. We all want to avoid burnout and so how can you stay inspired while finding joy in your daily work?
For some it might be spending less time in the office and leaving at 5pm on the dot; for others it might be initiating a new passion project that brings business success and professional satisfaction.
Everyone must find their own unique balance and I’m also trying to pursue this through my own ideal routine.
Time is obviously a key factor and I hope that with more businesses allowing greater flexibility in the workplace this will give employees the ability to make the most of their time and in turn allow them to gain that sweet spot of equilibrium, to be most productive and feel satisfied in their lives holistically.
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