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A Day in the Life: Head of marketing at Kernel Catherine Emerson

Catherine Emerson is the head of marketing and customer strategy at Kernel, a new index fund manager.  Here's how she gets through the day, how she organises her time and how she is helping empower her generation to manage their financial world and achieve their goals. 

What time do you wake up?

Usually by 6:30AM if I’m going to the gym. Sometimes I sneak a sleep in until 7…

What kind of work do you do?

I run the marketing and customer strategy for Kernel – an index fund manager.

What’s the ideal way to start your day?

Waking up after a good sleep then starting with something active; either F45 or walking to work, listening to a podcast and having coffee.

Do you have any morning rituals?

No – I tend to mix up my mornings depending on what I’ve got on that day and how much sleep I had! My most consistent ritual is asking Alexa to tell me the weather and news.

How soon do you begin doing work-related things each morning, such as checking phone or emails?

I try not to look at my work phone until 8AM and will usually just check our social accounts, news updates etc on my way into work.

What’s your media consumption or interaction like – which podcasts, radio, videos, books, magazines, and new sites do you read or listen to?

I’m an absolute podcast junkie – so I tend to spend lots of time listening to Tim Ferriss, Rework, How I Built This. I check mainstream news intermittently for work. I only read the property section of the paper on weekends to scope all the dream houses! I do love reading business & entrepreneurial blogs and a good old insta trawl.

What do you think is unique about the way you approach your work?

I like to think I always keep positive and focused on the bigger picture.

What responsibility do you have in a typical day? What takes up most of your time?

Every day is different; that’s the beauty of working for a start-up. Kernel is still growing brand awareness, acquiring customers, working on product development, forming partnerships.

Where do your best ideas come from?

Having down time and talking to our customers. Never when sitting in the office. Usually when I’m out walking, driving the car or reflecting on something I heard in a podcast or discussed with a customer.

What does resilience look like to you?

Being steadfast in the belief in your mission or purpose and using this as motivation to keep persisting with what you’re trying to achieve.  Also using set backs as an opportunity to reflect and potentially shift your direction or focus.

What has been the most transformational business practice you’ve implemented at your work?

Giving people the trust and flexibility to manage their own time and their workload. Ultimately everyone has different personal motivations in life and you get the most out of your team when you empower people to create their own work-life balance.  

What social or environmental issues inform the work you do, as well as what you’re aiming to do with your company’s overall vision?

I am personally very passionate about empowering my generation to understand how to manage their financial world in order to achieve their life goals. A huge part of my role at Kernel is around growing financial literacy in Kiwis – because everyone in society benefits when people develop these skills. Part of our definition of success is having more people investing to grow their wealth – whether it’s with Kernel or elsewhere – as long as people know how to start and have access, we are happy.

What’s the most enjoyable part of your day?

The variety! I love that no two days are the same, so I get to enjoy meeting with different people, talking to customers, writing blogs or organising events. The change keeps me on my toes.

What about the least enjoyable?

Saying no to opportunities – it’s a fine balance when you’re a start up to assess where to spend your limited marketing dollars.

Do you have any side hustles you’re juggling alongside being an entrepreneur?

I love doing DIY renovating and am about to start on a new project, so my house is full of product samples and plans. I’m also toying with the idea of starting a podcast in 2020 – so watch this space!

Do you procrastinate? Is it good or bad?

Hells yes – usually when it comes to life-admin rather than work. You know, all those things you have to do as an adult (like update your car insurance).

I am personally very passionate about empowering my generation to understand how to manage their financial world in order to achieve their life goals. A huge part of my role at Kernel is around growing financial literacy in Kiwis – because everyone in society benefits when people develop these skills.

What’s your best productivity hack?

Schedule time for yourself so that you’re not called into meetings and can deep focus on work. Also don’t leave your emails open throughout the day – check these at set times rather than the instant response.

Do you measure your accomplishments or productivity? If so, how?

We set goals in the business for all areas and celebrate accomplishments, but equally understand that things move rapidly in a start up so you need to be flexible.

What’s your interaction with friends and family throughout the day? Can you be both a successful entrepreneur and a good mother/partner/friend?

Yes! You can be both. My husband travels a lot for work so depending on where he is the world, we will catch up on the phone when it suits. Your support network is super important so I do make time for friends and family throughout the day if they need me.  

Do you get stressed? If so, how do you manage it? Do you practice any mindfulness or meditation?

I tend to get stressed if I start to become unbalanced – so I really try to take time to exercise, listen to podcasts, catch up with my husband and friends. I’ve also learnt to not jam-pack my weekends with social events (which is tempting!) because it’s important to have down time.  

What do you do once you get home? Can you switch off?

I’m usually greeted by my cat, then my husband if he’s home. To switch off I’ll flick on a record (blues, classical or jazz) and find cooking dinner quite relaxing.

What do or don’t you eat or drink to maintain your performance throughout the day?

Water first thing in the morning, coffee around 8:30AM, breakfast at my desk around 9:30 and then lunch at 1ish. In the afternoons, peppermint tea! I try to limit myself to two coffees a day.

What time do you go to sleep? How many hours sleep do you try to get each night? Any special techniques for a good night’s rest?

I’m very pedantic about sleep – its either 7.5 hours or 9 hours every night, but usually only the latter on weekends. We also have a strict rule about no devices in the bedroom and im impartial to wearing a silk eye mask (darkness is key!)

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