Anastasia Vinogradova is the Talent Acquisition Lead at BandLab Technologies, which designs and develops innovative tools and services for the next generation of music creators.
To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
My career path got started after the university where I studied Psychology. Frankly, I enrolled almost spontaneously, not really knowing who I would become. After graduation, I was fortunate to land a role in HR at an emerging technology company and got a chance to work with a great HRD who was my manager and my mentor (a truly incredible one).
This pretty much determined my future; I spent 5 years working for this business, rising to the position of the Head of HR there, and then joined another growing technology company as an HRD.
Eight years ago I relocated from Moscow to Hong Kong to essentially start over, both personally and professionally. Over the first few years after the move, I completed a diploma in HRM and Business Psychology at Hong Kong University, all the while founding a boutique recruitment agency and working as a freelance Technical recruiter and HR consultant.
These days, and for the last 2+ years, I am the TA Lead at a MusicTech company BandLab Technologies. My role entails everything from global talent acquisition, recruitment marketing and employer branding, to designing strategies and processes that ensure we have an attractive work environment together with our HR team. Last year, I enrolled in and am currently attending Plymouth University’s MBA in HRM program to fill the gaps that I have in finance and accounting, and operation management knowledge.
Overall, I’ve been in HR and Talent Acquisition in technology start- and scale-ups for over 15 years now. My focus is and has always been on finding talented people and helping them grow, and developing a culture that makes companies a great place to work.
What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
With our ambitious growth plans, recruiting is my top priority. Each day can be different, but typically it begins with replying to emails and Slack messages and is filled with candidate interviews and meetings with various stakeholders, hiring managers and team leads. However, in order not to burn out, I always try to keep my calendar only half full (under 4-5 meetings a day) and block out slots for other activities and some focus time.
Since we have a global team, occasionally, I start early to meet with candidates in the US, or finish late to catch up with colleagues in Europe, so I’d say my work hours are rather flexible. This is a kind of schedule that not everyone would enjoy, but I love the agility and the chaotic-good energy that we have here, and how productive, and focused the team is despite the challenges of working across multiple time zones. And working from home is definitely beneficial.
After work, I usually go for a night run or hike to enjoy some quiet time alone, clear my head and recharge. Luckily, Hong Kong is a great place for hiking in nature with absolutely epic views and this is one of the many reasons why I love it here.
What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
For me, work-life balance means that I’m able to pursue my professional ambitions and get things done at work, while having time and energy for my life outside of work (family, friends, hobbies), staying fit, and without compromising my mental health.
Achieving it takes, first of all, a lot of prioritising and planning, but also managing my perfectionism, saying “no” when necessary, setting boundaries between work and personal time (for example, not doing work on weekends and days off) – and making sure to stick to those boundaries, which is the hardest part.
In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I started a habit of going to sleep before 11pm. Perhaps it doesn’t sound exactly life-changing, but for me, as someone who used to be a complete night owl, it was. This practice has significantly improved my sleep, ability to wake up, as well as my mood and productivity.
Another change I’ve been trying to implement since last year is that I now try to control my news intake. I’ve turned off notifications for social media and news apps and made it a rule to read the news only once a day, and keep myself from doom scrolling.
Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
Not a podcast listener, perhaps because I’m more of a “visual” learner and process information better through text.
For newsletters, I read and highly recommend Recruiting Brainfood from Hung Lee and TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read).
As for books, I’ve always read a lot of them, but to be honest, I generally read fiction and am not particularly into business or “motivational” types. Science fiction and fantasy are my favourite subgenres, and the writers are Strugatsky brothers, Kurt Vonnegut, and Roger Zelazny.
When I have time, I also reread classics I had read for school when I was a teenager. I’m currently reading Dostoevsky’s Idiot, and it’s interesting how despite the constantly changing world people’s nature and struggles haven’t truly changed.
However, there are a couple of books on the business side that I can recommend. One is The Culture Map by Erin Meyer. I myself as a foreigner am sometimes seen as too direct when no offence was meant, and know that this book can be useful for anyone who works in international teams. The other one is Atomic Habits by James Clear.
If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
That would be someone who, in addition to their successful career, is also an activist, and involved in some important humanitarian or environmental causes. Charity is a tough and often thankless job, and I would love to know how they manage to balance their work, humanitarian efforts and personal life, and stay motivated, productive (and sane).
Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
There’s a fine line between poor work-life balance and understanding when it’s a lack of motivation. If your work isn’t what you want to do, or you have to work in a toxic environment, you will constantly be “overworking” and getting burnt out, and no number of breaks or personal time will help you in this situation.
Everyone’s work can be difficult, boring, or disappointing sometimes. But if you generally love (or at the very least don’t hate) and can find a purpose in what you do, and share the same values with people who surround you, it will not bother you if your work day takes a bit longer. I personally would always prefer a team of like-minded people and a meaningful job over a higher pay. This is probably the best way to get your work and life balanced.
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