Zoe Devine is the Channel Manager at Australian cosmedical skincare brand Skinstitut, where she is responsible for the sales team, account management, marketing, and more.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My formal education is in Health Science (including nutrition and naturopathy) plus business, which in my early career led me into an NPD role – I worked within Research & Product Development (within the health food arena).
The business itself was not a large one which allowed me the benefit of having a wide scoping role – my NPD days steered me into Key Account Management within major national retailers and Sales Training.
From there I moved into Brand Management roles within the same industry before being inspired for a career pivot. I loved what I did for the most part but felt like I could be doing more (or better) yet there were limited opportunities where I was.
Here I made the leap into a new category – Beauty, where I was easily able to use my background education and skillset to adapt but also bring a different point of view to the channel.
Since working within the Beauty channel I’ve worked as a Business Development Manager and Product Trainer, Marketing Manager and now a Channel Manager.
Currently I am the Channel Manager for Skinstitut – this entails looking after the sales team and strategy for independent brick and mortar stockists, key account management, plus marketing strategy and execution.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Previously (pre-COVID) my role required quite a bit of travel. Though now it sees me exclusively WFH.
Every single day brings new situations and challenges; no two days are ever the same. Zoom Meetings have become common place both as a means of internal team communication and external customer account meetings.
As we’re nearing the end of financial year, we’re focusing heavily of FY21 planning – a full 12 month calendar across B2B and B2C markets plus a sales strategy to align.
From a more granular perspective some days see channel specific comms compilation, social media planning, team briefing and training, sales review, budgets, short term marketing briefs and execution, customer liaison and more recently compilation of video content (to adapt to our COVID way of life).
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes – with a national customer base the role has always required travel, which means you must have the ability to work (and produce outcome), anywhere and everywhere).
I’ve always had a home office set up for when I needed it and now it has become my permanent office since March this year. Some of the tertiary education I completed was via remote learning, which in a way set me up with great habits to be able to transition into my work life.
Working remotely certainly has its positives; I personally am much more productive as there are fewer interruptions. My office is a separate space for me in my house and I designate ‘work hours’ (which even includes a set lunch break).
I ensure I’m in my office with my work ‘hat’ on within these hours (as a minimum) and it helps me stay accountable. I like to keep all my work within this space so there is physical separation in my home between work and leisure.
I also find setting a routine around work hours personally works for me – though I don’t have children so this may be a luxury others can’t afford.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
While working from home it’s easy to blur the line between when you start and finish work each day. Like I mentioned before I like to set a timeline as a rough routine.
Work like balance to me means you can be a dedicated professional who excels in their career but also knows when and how to ‘switch off’ – both physically and mentally. If you’re working 40 – 45 hours a week but then stressing profusely about work all the remaining wakeful hours in the day, then this isn’t balanced at all.
The idea of being balanced is subjective and will mean different things to everyone. I know I have work life balance when I can get in and get my work done but then have the ability to relax and enjoy downtime with husband or friends without background stress or anxiety lingering about a stressful or unresolved challenge.
Prioritising my time and setting timelines around tasks has helped me to do this. In my work life I have 2 x lists of generalised tasks that I always need to do the first is labelled ‘Time Sensitive’ the second is labelled ‘On-going’ – so here I can prioritise anything that needs my immediate attention but at the same time remember the less urgent projects (as they are often the ones that constantly get pushed to the backburner).
Each morning I review my tasks and map out in my calender timeslots for each. At the end of each day I review what I completed and then re-allocate time the next day for any remaining projects that didn’t get the attention they deserved (undoubtedly due to new time sensitive projects arising throughout the day).
My week is also mapped out much the same way – on Friday afternoon I review what I completed that week then before I finish up for the weekend I plan out the following week – this also tells me if there is anything time sensitive that can’t wait until Monday. Monday morning is then much easier to tackle, it just involves a glance at my calendar rather than trying to recall all the events of the previous week and then feeling overwhelmed with where to start.
Daily movement is also essential for me and helps my mind to stay focused when it needs to be, whether this is a full body workout or just an afternoon walk I make sure that everyday I move otherwise my mind becomes foggy and I feel sluggish.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started/stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Maybe not life-changing but day-making I could say. Since working exclusively from home (due to COVID) I decided that it’s easy to get swept into the daily emergency of certain situations and lose track of time (only to find yourself sitting in the same place many hours later without moving).
Each morning (around mid-morning) I take a coffee break on my balcony with my dog – it’s only a few minutes but it’s great to get some fresh air and also get some cuddles and pats in amongst the work day – my dog loves this habit too, as he also manages to get some treats each morning too.
One other thing I’ve changed is how I prioritise tasks. I used to automatically complete the so-called ‘easy’ ones first and then tackle the more challenging ones. But this was often leaving me with insufficient time to devote to more challenging situations.
You feel good when you mark off plenty of items on your list, so naturally we go for the easy ones first, but sometimes the ‘easy’ tasks also consume more time than they deserve. This is why I now divide everything into ‘time sensitive’ and ‘ongoing’. It’s actually much more gratifying to mark off a high priority time sensitive task that was exceptionally challenging than 10 easy tasks.
When I am working on something really important or time sensitive I also turn the sound off my computer so I don’t hear alerts and I also don’t check emails for a period (otherwise it’s tempting to move onto one of these ‘easy’ non time sensitive tasks).
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
When I read, I often love an autobiography, at the moment I’m reading ‘In Cold Blood’ by Truman Capote – the original true-crime novel! I love a good penguin book and for some strange reason I was very late to the party with this classic novel.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Since COVID changed the work environment, especially for teams, I now can’t live without ‘slack’. This app has allowed us all to stay connected within both larger and smaller teams and communicate much in the same way as if we were all in the same office.
While working I also find it essential to have the right background music to keep me relaxed. A favourite background station is SBS Chill. If I can be bothered with selecting a playlist on Spotify it is usually French café lounge music (nothing with too many words – or at least words in English), that I can get distracted and sing along to.
8) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think it involves setting personal boundaries and knowing what you can do as an individual to relax and unwind. Some people find it easy to switch off while others find it exceptionally difficult.
Of course the gravity of each individual situation impacts this but on the whole if you can recognise what sort of person you are and what can help you to feel calm and at ease then that is the first step.
My husband and I both try to carve out quality time with each other, even when life is really busy (and when we are both travelling a lot). Pre-organising so called ‘date nights’ is a must for us.
One other thing that has helped me in situations where I have felt completely overwhelmed is to weigh up the impact this scenario has to my life in general.
A question I ask myself is ‘will this matter or be an issue in 6 months?’ More often than not, it won’t matter or seem like as big as an issue in 6 months’ time. This helps me put things in perspective and set aside debilitating stress that can sometimes arise if you let your mind go to the ‘what if’ scenario.
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