Balancing the Grind with Anna Hodges, End to End Talent Leader at Woolworths Group

Anna Hodges is a Talent Acquisition Leader at Woolworths Group, where she leads a group of TA Partners, recruiting a wide variety of roles across the country.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

After beginning my career in hospitality and retail, I fell into recruitment (as many of us do) about 15 years ago when I moved from Sydney up to Brisbane. To say I found my calling was an understatement – I finally found a role where the more questions I asked and the more people I spoke with, the more successful I became!

Although most of my recruitment career has been spent working within the Medical and Scientific industries, which was so interesting, I’ve realised over time that my passion is more about the impact the company and I can make, together, rather than the industry or roles I am actually recruiting. 

Having worked in small businesses, big multinationals and running my own company, I made the move earlier this year to come “back to the fold” (after a 25 year hiatus) to the Woolworths Group as an End to End Talent Chapter Lead (similar to a TA Manager in a non-agile working environment), leading and coaching a team of talented TA Partners.

2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I am an early bird, so typically I am up around 5am or so to head off to pilates or go for a walk down by the Coast. When I am back home it’s all about the kiddos – getting lunches ready, then getting myself organised for the day.

I’ll normally check out my diary, write a mini to-do list for the day and answer any urgent emails. Between my husband and I we split the drop-off then it’s coffee time!! My day is normally full of meetings but a lot of 1:1 time with my team, problem solving roadblocks, mentoring and coaching, and a lot of time with key stakeholders across the Group checking on how we are tracking our goals.

I tend to mix up working from home and going into one of our Sydney offices – being around people and my team definitely brings me a lot of joy and energy! But if I do it too much I end up a bit exhausted, so again, it’s a bit of a balance. We are really lucky to have the flexibility of a distributed workforce where I can work where it makes the most sense for that day.

3) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Mia Freedman says work-life balance doesn’t exist, and in all honesty I rarely feel like I’ve got it all under control. But that’s the point, right? Just like other aspects of my life, there are times when the scales are tipped one way or the other.

Sometimes it needs to be focusing on my kids, and having my own business was fantastic for that – especially when they were very little. Then things changed and I wanted to focus on myself or my career. It isn’t all linear. 

For me, I know there is a lot out of my control, so balance just means that I am focusing on achieving the things within my control. Also, trying not to be too hard on myself; setting small goals and working towards them, but pivoting when needed.

I make sure I have at least one take-away coffee every day, because that genuinely brings me joy, and some time for exercise or quiet to help balance the chaos! Ideally the sunshine and ocean helps me navigate that too, but Mother Nature isn’t always on the same page.

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4) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

One thing I have done is set my “do not disturb” on my phone around 8pm every night. I have a few emergency contacts that come through (just in case), but as I use only one phone for work and personal life, it’s important for me to focus on the moment and not get distracted by outside forces.

I turn it back on in the morning before I head off to the gym for a quick check in. It’s honestly been a game changer and I can’t believe I didn’t do this before! I also try to do Wordle each morning – it helps my brain kick in and just gets me started. 

5) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I regularly listen to We Can Do Hard Things with Glennon Doyle, WorkLife with Adam Grant, Mamamia Out Loud and ListenAble with Dylan Alcott and Angus O’Loughlin. I am an avid reader, but 99% of the books I read are fiction – it’s definitely a bit of escapism. 

6) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

Ooh, that’s a tricky one! I can say I’ve loved hearing about it by people like Jessica Rowe, Ita Buttrose and Mia Freedman. 

7) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

Life is a shifting platform, where things are always changing. Like the sand under the tide, it’s never the same for long. I think it’s important to keep that perspective, to remember that priorities will also shift and change over time and that is actually ok!

We will all make mistakes, take the wrong turn or prioritise the wrong thing. Just be kind to yourself, and take it one day at a time. Celebrate the little things, enjoy time with people you want to spend time with, and have a bit of fun!

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.