Diageo CMO: Reframe 'work-life balance' to 'making your life work'

Lara O'Reilly
Executive Producer

As a senior executive, Diageo chief marketing officer Syl Saller is often asked the “work-life balance” question.

But Saller told Yahoo Finance UK’s Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded she would prefer to “reframe” the idea of work-life balance altogether.

“When you actually add up, for many people, they spend more time at work physically during the day than they do at home,” Saller said. “Work is a big part of life and you can’t ignore that.”

“I like to reframe it as, ‘making your life work’,” Saller added.

Watch the full Syl Saller Global Change Agents interview here

In fact, Saller said, having “balance” could be a red flag.

“I don’t think there’s anything such as balance because if something is in perfect balance, trust me, it’s about to tip over,” Saller said. “It’s a dynamic thing.”

For example, Saller prefers to work later into the evening — rather than being the type of executive that hits the gym at 4am and bounds into work straight after. But she doesn’t expect everyone else on her team to follow suit.

“If I see somebody answering an email on a weekend and I know weekend working is not their thing, I’m like, ‘Hey, why did you just answer this email? It’s not you’re way — you’re violating your own values’,” Saller said.

Saller also credited the support of her husband and two children for helping her succeed and to manage the stress of the job.

“I root myself in my family and if they’re healthy, and happy, and thriving I can rock and roll with all the volatility that happens out in the big world that is Diageo and it really is a source of resilience for me,” Saller said.

Global Change Agents with Lianna Brinded explores the journeys of some of the world’s most inspirational women across business, tech, and academia. Catch up on all the latest episodes here.

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