Rapid organic and circumstantial developments of workplace culture have gifted options to those looking ahead at long careers. In this fresh context, marketing veterans can reflect on their pasts and gain new perspectives that can hold value for marketers starting out.
To engage with such a veteran, Marketing Mag speaks to Linda McDonald, Vista Australia’s director of marketing, sales and CX, about the experiences that enrich a career, maintaining work-life separation and contemporary workplace culture.
Marketing Mag: Drawing on your vast experience and your analysis of current trends, what advice would you offer to someone starting out in the industry today?
Linda McDonald: Throughout my career, I’ve had the good fortune of working with and for remarkable organisations, spanning both globally recognised brands and local businesses. The key lies in identifying organisations that resonate with your values, offering products or services aligned with your passions, and a purpose that inspires you. Equally important is the presence of exceptional teams that you admire and can learn from.
Embrace the opportunity to take on roles that may differ slightly from your envisioned next step. Surround yourself with inspiring individuals who believe in your potential and are committed to helping you succeed and grow – this can prove to be a pivotal decision in shaping your career.
How have opportunities with international brands enriched your career development in a globalised industry?
Working with global brands and strong organisations early on in my career gave me a strong grounding in the disciplines; I worked across sales, research and marketing. This grounding was incredibly important in developing my strategic capabilities, creative thinking skills and process-driven approach, which I then took into less disciplined organisations, enabling me to add significant value and drive step change across several Australian brands.
Heading back to a strong global business, Vista, has reinvigorated my hunger to learn and develop as I am surrounded by incredible talent both globally and locally every day.
You’ve led the marketing team at Vista Australia for nearly two years. What highlights and challenges stand out from that time?
An absolute highlight of my time at Vista has been helping small businesses across several initiatives showcase and communicate how remarkable they are. A standout achievement has been my team creating and developing our ambassador program, and watching it flourish since its inception.
Another personal highlight was when our teams worked directly with a small business, Simon’s Peiking Duck in Melbourne, to transform and relaunch their brand. It was an exciting and rewarding project to be part of and it was a real team effort from the get-go. We worked with our design services teams and created amazing VistaPrint products to relaunch the small business’ brand and assist them in communicating their services and offerings to the surrounding community. We then brought this to life as a nationwide Vista brand campaign, and I’ll never forget how proud this made the owners of Simon’s Peiking Duck and what this work meant to them.
Observing our marketing team transform into a high-performing team, delivering amazing results and challenging the way we’ve done things previously has been incredibly fulfilling, and the results are a testament to their efforts and energy.
As a marketing leader and a mother, what insights can you share about integrating family life with a successful career?
Having a supportive partner who believes in my capability and potential has been key to my career progression and success. Breaking the gender role norms and expectations around who the primary carer is within the family unit wasn’t embraced by all around me, but it was the right decision for our family. Making the decision that is right for you, and not succumbing to what everyone else expects you to do isn’t always easy, but it is worth it.
I try to manage my roles and responsibilities at Vista to ensure my time with my family is consistent and uninterrupted. This doesn’t always work, of course, but being present and focused on my family when I’m not working is my absolute priority.
How do you think the evolution of the work-life balance has impacted leaders and their families?
The evolution of work-life balance and the impact this has had on both individuals and families has been immense. As a leader, I know personally, I’m much more flexible with my team and encourage them to work in a manner that helps them maintain a healthy lifestyle and outlook, despite how busy they are or how intense our roles may be at times.
I’ve also experienced a marked difference in being able to be more present at my family’s important moments. This has been very beneficial to my overall mental well-being, and I know this is also the case for many of my team members. The ability to do so reduces the feelings of ‘mum guilt’ or ‘parent guilt’ that many of us experience.
This has helped to lead to a high level of commitment to Vista from our people and has in part driven our strong performance. The ability to improve our work-life balance is possible if we are committed, and remain committed, to doing so.
As a leader in a remote-first company, what strategies maintain a strong culture and ensure effective collaboration among team members who may be geographically dispersed?
We have a high level of connectivity during the week with both work and social stand-ups at Vista. In addition to this, I maintain consistent contact with my team. I try to behave as I would in an office to some extent, not waiting until a scheduled meeting if I have a question or something to share, but instead connecting directly and in a timely manner, so that I maintain ongoing dialogue and collaboration with my team and colleagues building strong relationships.
Working remotely and Vista being a remote-first workplace has allowed team members to move to areas where they can now afford to purchase a home. The way we work has also enabled the organisation to employ people in areas that may not have been accessible if we had a physical office presence, so we are able to recruit the best talent with fewer constraints.
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Images attributed to Antenna on Unsplash and Linda McDonald.