We’ve been through a lot of change in the past year or so.
Businesses will do that. They’ll go through periods of stasis, growing quietly in all directions, and then a moment or two will come where that period of stasis blooms into new growth. Like people, a brand goes through new challenges, and emerges differently: with new purpose, with new intent, with new guidelines to follow to reach the next stage of their role.
Part of the next stage for us is this: we have a new general manager. She’s worked her way up through the company, going from blog writer and creative researcher to head of marketing, and a few other roles in between. She’s kind and emphatic and patient, with clients and with coworkers.
Say hi to Mel, our new general manager.
What inspired you to pursue a leadership role?
I didn’t actively pursue a leadership role! I just really wanted to contribute to a working environment that people took pride in working in, and so for the past few years that I’ve been at Switch, that’s what I’ve been working towards. The role was just what came next.
I really believe that fostering positive relationships and supporting the well-being of all teams is crucial for long-term success and growth. Whether it’s ensuring client satisfaction, promoting a collaborative atmosphere among colleagues, or cultivating strong partnerships with suppliers, I am driven by a genuine care for the success and happiness of those around me.
What’s the biggest factor that has helped you advance into your new role?
The people that I have had the opportunity to work with, hands down. I’m curious by nature and I like asking questions, but the people I’ve worked with have supported me and encouraged me on a daily basis.
I am one of the lucky ones that gets to work with people I genuinely love, and they each play a pivotal role in shaping the person I am today. Every day, I am fortunate to learn something new from my colleagues, and their collective knowledge and experiences have equipped me with the tools I now use even in my personal life.
How do you stay focused and productive in the face of distractions and competing priorities?
This is challenging, and these questions were sent to me when I was really distracted, but I try and keep what I learned from Ed in mind: there are urgent tasks, and important tasks, and splitting your work into those categories really helps me prioritise.
It’s all too easy for me to get caught up in the trap of “urgent” tasks, and constantly telling myself, “just this one more email and then…”, however I am actively working on being more deliberate in breaking down tasks. Also, I have implemented a ‘Don’t be an ass’ to-do list, which automatically prioritises tasks as deadlines approach or are missed for work that others rely on me for.
Unfortunately, this particular task remained at the top of that list for a significant amount of time, and I am genuinely grateful to Camille (and the marketing team) for their understanding and patience despite my multiple missed deadlines.
How do you handle stress and pressure in your role?
I make a conscious effort to be mindful of where I invest my energy, but there are moments where no amount of mindfulness helps – and that’s where I tend to rely on the support of the people around me. I’ve built a network of strong relationships, and they’re always there to help me: both on a personal and a professional level.
From a work point of view, it’s truly impressive to witness the collective response of everyone in the agency whenever someone even hints at feeling stressed. The team jumps to the rescue, offering help and assistance without hesitation.
I also check in with myself daily, and ask myself whether stressing about a situation will truly help me solve it faster or better. If something is beyond my direct control, I question the usefulness of stressing about it.
I am only human, though, so there are times when stress and pressure do get to me. In those moments, the understanding, guidance, and encouragement of others plays a crucial role in helping me navigate through challenging situations.
Overall, my approach to handling stress and pressure involves building strong relationships, maintaining a mindful perspective on where to direct my energy, and seeking support from my colleagues and friends when needed.
You are undoubtedly busy, how do you take care of yourself and maintain good mental health?
I like to keep myself grounded. I value open communication, which means admitting to others when I’m not okay, or when I’ve hit a wall in what I’m doing. I try and reconnect with things that bring me joy – playing with Matteo, or walking Simba are my current go-tos. It’s not easy, but I try and do my best to take care of myself so I can take care of others.
That said, while I believe that taking care of oneself and maintaining good mental health should always be a priority (even in the midst of a busy schedule), I don’t quite listen to my own advice. I really believe that in order to effectively care for others, one must first ensure to be okay themselves. However, I must admit that at times, it can be challenging to prioritise self-care, and I tend to put myself last on the list of things ‘to do’.
How do you stay motivated and inspired?
I work with amazing, unique people who constantly make me think, “I want to be them when I grow up.” When you have these people in your life, lack of motivation or inspiration is never a problem.
I know I’ll sound like a broken record, but the team at Switch are such a powerful driving force: when you work with amazing people who do amazing work, lack of motivation or inspiration is never a problem. Quite the opposite: I always have a drive to push through and do the best I possibly can to be sure that what we have at Switch gets better. Funnily enough, on the toughest and most challenging periods at the agency, instead of feeling demotivated and without hope, it’s when I find myself pushed through harder, simply because of who makes Switch, Switch.
Did you plan your career path?
The only thing I have ever planned in my life was being a working mother. I was just lucky enough to also develop a career that brings me joy and pride, and provides an extra challenge to balance my life around.
Anything else to add, Mel?
As challenging as it is, it has also been pretty amazing to see how becoming a mother, and the skill sets that come with it, has truly helped me with my role within the agency.
It’s an ongoing process – as Teo grows and the agency evolves, I face daily challenges in both areas of my life. I’ve learned that the only way to succeed is to be agile and adapt as you go.
One of the reasons that I’m managing to cope (so far) is through organisation and time management. Everything is planned on both my personal and work Google Calendar, and I have a list of lists to keep track of everything instead of relying on memory: as soon as something comes to mind that needs actioning, or an idea, or a question I might have, it goes straight into its respective list.
Multitasking has also become one of my fortes: I feed Matteo while on internal work video calls or reply to emails during contact naps (case in point – I am writing this while Matteo is sleeping on me).
Truth is though – I wouldn’t be able to make it work so “smoothly” if it weren’t for the great support I get at home and at the agency.