Welcome to our very first Member Spotlight with the wonderful Liz Ballantyne!
Liz Ballantyne is the General Manager of marketing agency Media Mortar, Queensland Mentor Liaison of industry-wide mentoring program Assisterhood, Podcast Host of the Your Marketing Mates podcast, and is a mother of two small children. Liz has also been part of the Women in Digital community for several years now.
If you’re thinking ‘WOW! How does she juggle it all?’ We can tell you, so are we!
Juggling a full-time career and raising a family is no easy feat. Couple in other commitments like mentoring and attending regular industry events – it can seem overwhelming. Finding a supportive tribe that just ‘get it’ while building a network of like-minded humans to learn from can make all the difference, as Liz will tell you.
We thoroughly enjoyed putting together this Q&A with Liz to find out her tips for doing it all and what drives her passion for getting involved in the industry.
We love asking people this question! Tell us, what did 5-year-old Liz want to be when she grew up?
When I was really little I wanted to be a minister – I think I liked that they got to stand up and talk in front of people! As a teenager I was more interested in understanding the career path to becoming a bungee jumping instructor – mainly because I was annoyed the only career suggestions I was given at school were nurse, teacher or journalist.
It is commonly recognised that there are fewer female leaders in digital and technology. How did you end up working in this industry?
Long story really. I wanted to be a literary agent because I love books, stories and people. However when I graduated uni all the bookstores were closing down and it was a hard industry to crack into. In the end I fell into marketing and then got a graduate job at a tech company learning digital. It was a great opportunity because at the time it was one of six companies in Australia that were partnered with Google. I learnt a lot about digital marketing, tech and developers pretty quickly!
In the Your Marketing Mates podcast, we know that you and your co-host love to set a ‘word for the year’ to help set your intentions. Tell us about your word and what it means to you?
Last year it was ‘uncomfortable’ and was all about leaning into the discomfort that comes with pushing yourself and growing.
This year my word is ‘intentional’. I’m trying to be more intentional with how I use my time at work, how I spend time with my family, how I can use my voice, and how I factor in me-time.
You are a General Manager of an agency, a podcaster, a mentor liaison for a mentorship program AND a mum of two kids! How do you do it all?!
I would say not well sometimes! I have a very supportive husband who shares the load with parenting. And I have surrounded myself with a tribe of women who support me in different ways. And like everyone, I have weeks where I do lots of things well, and weeks where everything gets rather tricky and I drop a few balls. Thankfully, from what I can tell so far, the only victims who suffered during those tricky times are some house plants.
Overall though, I think what helps me ‘do it all’ is that I really enjoy 99% of it – it’s fun!
Do you have any advice for women trying to juggle it all?
I recently did a LinkedIn post on this which you can read here. But to be expand on that, I’d say the key thing is to be kind to yourself – sometimes you’ll drop a ball. Let go of the guilt of not doing everything the way you’re ‘supposed to’ and just keep trying.
And also find ‘your people’ – those people who understand the juggle and can help you. Everything is always easier when you don’t feel alone.
Finally, for me, a really helpful book was ‘I know how she does it’ by Laura Vanderkam. She interviews all these women about how they mange to juggle it all. It was honestly a life-changing read for me, and one I still re-read every few years. (TIP: It’s also available on audiobook which is super helpful if you’re trying to multi-task!)
We’ve already mentioned you do a LOT for the community from attending industry events, your podcast, Assisterhood and joining Women in Digital’s Membership. What would you say drives your passion for getting involved in the industry?
When I was 27 and pregnant with my daughter, I didn’t know what to expect about managing maternity leave, or how to juggle a career and motherhood. I’d just been offered my dream role, and I didn’t know how I was going to be able to do both. When I looked for role models of career-driven women in tech and marketing, who were also mothers, I struggled to find anyone. Everyone I spoke to seemed to be stay-at-home mums, teachers or nurses. (These ladies were all wonderful and make up my supportive tribe, but they couldn’t give me the example I needed at the time.)
I absolutely loved work, and was very worried about losing my identity and my joy of work. Before I had the baby, I even wrote myself letters to read in the future, reminding myself how much I loved my job and that my daughter would do fine in childcare!
In the end, I managed to find someone to speak to, and I went back to work and started the juggle of managing work and family. But I realised a few things then:
- I needed to build my network to find more like-minded people
- I wanted to share my experience with others – in case they like me, wanted to have both family and career, but didn’t know how
Also, I love learning new things, and by getting involved in the industry and meeting new people makes for a fun way to do this.
What career advice do you have for women wanting to grow into a leadership position?
Build your network and chat to people. This is how you can find people to help you identify where you need to grow to gain those skills, and who also can help guide you on how to reach that leadership position – they may have roles open or can talk you through how to bring up the topic in your current workplace.
Also realise it’s a journey – take those small steps, like any goal, to work your way into a leadership position. I like the analogy of a career being like a jungle gym – sometimes you go up, sometimes you go backwards, sometimes you go down – there is no one way to get into the position you want, so just keep focusing on your end goal and don’t give up. I’ve had people say that there is no way a General Manager role could be part-time. But I manage to do it. Is it easy, no. Is it rewarding – absolutely.
What is a podcast or book you are loving right now?
I’ve intentionally been taking a little breather from any podcasts at the moment, and instead listening to some fiction audiobooks on my commute and while doing housework. Don’t judge me, but I just finished listening to a Nora Roberts fantasy trilogy.
When I do have a moment to sit, I’m slowly working my way through ‘Leaders Eat Last’ by Simon Sinek.
Do you have any marketing hacks / resources you wish you found earlier?
I love following different social media accounts for an easy way to get snippets of info quickly. A few good ones include:
I’m also a huge fan of two time-management techniques which help keep me on track and realistic about what I can fit in a day – the Pomodoro Technique and calendar blocking.
and just for fun… What do you think is your superpower? What superpower do you wish you had?
I recently did the Clifton Strengths test and my top strength was positivity. I’d say this is a superpower which I took for granted for a long time. I think perhaps another superpower is my resilience/stamina – which I credit my parents with helping me develop from a young age. (Ask me one day about having to do ‘stick-picking’ in a paddock as a child 😉.)
Superpower I wish I had – easy! I wish I could click my fingers and be transported to a new location. I’d never have to worry about commute times again!
If someone offered you a million dollars to give up your smartphone forever, would you do it?
Totally – I’d likely do it for less! I could easily be someone who uses my phone just for making calls and texting. But I would appreciate it if they could make MP3 players more accessible again – they are hard to find these days!
If you were an athlete, what would you choose as your walkout song?
Hmm, I’ve started playing hockey and given I have no idea how to play and get super nervous, I’ve taken to listening to music to get me confident before a game. ’Pump it Up’ by Endor or ‘The Greatest’ by Sia are my go-to songs. I also listen to ‘The Greatest’ if I’m having a low day and need to try to change my mood before a busy day at work.
Thanks Liz for chatting with us!
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