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Meet Professor Rebekah Russell-Bennett, the wannabe-archeologist turned marketing professor who spends her days researching social marketing and teaching future marketers while still finding time to binge watch Netflix and be look after her large family of eight (including a cat).

Full name, title/position: Professor Rebekah Russell-Bennett, Marketing Professor at Queensland University of Technology

As a kid, what was your dream career? I wanted to be an archaeologist. I really liked the Indiana Jones movies and I wanted to discover things.

Tell us about your path to where you are now? I finished 12 years of schooling in 10 years and went straight to university when I was 16. In 19 years, I went to five universities and worked towards seven degrees, to eventually get three. I was not the model student by any means, and it didn’t look like I had any remarkable prospects when I started out. I began a Bachelor of ‘Social Life’ and got a GPA of 3.5, then tried an Arts degree before moving onto Psych, then Business and eventually finished my Bachelor of Commerce. I obviously had to have a job while I was trying almost every social science subject you can do, and I eventually came across marketing when I was working and that got me on this path.

I was very young when I started uni but I had a very good time living on campus. I was really influenced by my parents though – they were high achievers in their business, and because they believed I could do anything I believed that as well. Even from a young age we would set goals and my family would work with me to help achieve them. There was no luck in my career, just lots of hard work and rabbit holes. But every degree I’ve started or finished has helped me expand my general knowledge, which has helped me throughout my career.

Was there a defining career moment? The defining moment in my career would have been leaving my full-time low-paid job for a three-month contract in a high-paid job. I took a major risk to double my salary and it ended up leading me to my first job in marketing at Yellow Pages, which helped set me up for the rest of my career.

What is your favourite part of your current role? The people I work with. Whether it’s my students or my colleagues, I work with fantastic people who are fun and incredibly talented, and I am very grateful for that. I’m not interested in clever people unless they’re fun and I’m not interested in fun people unless they’re clever.

What is your least favourite part? The paperwork and the admin.

Do you have children? What are your tips to work/life balance? I have two daughters, three stepsons and a cat. What is balance? When you look at my workload it’s probably at 150 per cent. I have balance overall, but not in any given week. It’s all about tradeoffs. Things don’t have to be perfect – they just have to be good enough. I have a high standard, but it’s never perfect. I don’t believe in perfect.

What piece of advice or encouragement would you give to someone still looking for their big career break? Be willing to take risks, have a good work ethic and have a strong network of people who can help you. People who think they should get to the top on their own are idiots. Nobody gets to the top without help from someone and you’ve got to be prepared to pay them back – pay it back, pay it forward.

What do you do in your downtime to escape the work headspace? Binge watch Netflix and get completely consumed in it, to the point where I forget about work for a moment. If I have a little more time I like to get away on a mini-break, like going camping for the weekend. Just unplugging from work for that small time really helps.

If you could completely change your career right now, what would you do? I’d be a fiction writer.  I would probably write fantasy or children’s novels that had a cynical adult spin.

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