HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Derrick Gellidon, Director of Talent at Curology

Derrick Gellidon is the Director of Talent at Curology, a San Francisco-based company with a mission to making effective skincare accessible.

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

I never dreamed of a career in Talent or knew anything about the field growing up. I more so fell into this path by means of tapping into how we built and grew teams at previous jobs.

Fast forward and I’ve now been working in Talent Acquisition for about 10 years this coming October. I’ve held every type of role from Recruiting Coordination, Sourcing, Full-Cycle Recruiting all the way to Leadership.

While I’ve enjoyed stints at large public companies like Google orTwitter, I’ve also been part of fast growing start-ups with less than 30 people. Some of those start ups, have grown to become larger companies now like Instacart for example.

Personally I very much enjoy helping the small to medium size companies prepare for their first major waves of growth.

Today, I support all of Curology’s Talent Acquisition needs as Director of Talent. My team of 12 drives all the talent attraction, engagement, interviewing, and closing across all departments and in all locations.

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

A typical day starts out some exercise in the morning followed by what used to be my commute into the office via Bart or the occasional drive into San Francisco. I take that time to catch up on news, sports, read smaller articles, or get lost in a Spotify playlist.

My mornings usually kick off with planning or strategy meetings. We always start out with shout outs and highlights. I’m big on appreciation and acknowledging progress.

For my team, Mondays help us to circle back on anything urgent or outstanding from the previous week and get aligned on what everyone’s priority is for the current week.

From there, I typically have two to three one-on-one meetings per day with my team members. We talk through how they are doing, challenges they are facing, how I can support them and if we are on track with their personal development plans.

Meals have always been important to me and so I make sure we have the chance to eat in peace. I try not to work through lunch since I believe getting your mind off work helps you come back better for the second half.

After eating, I usually meet with our clients (hiring managers or department leaders) on priorities and upcoming work. This helps me strategize on how I’m going to shift or move team resources.

I usually get about 2 hours to myself to work on strategy, planning or process improvements each day and chip away at our larger visionary goals week by week. This is where I put my analytical hat on.

While I try to block out this as quiet time for myself, my responsibilities to the team are to be there when they need me. A lot of my day is being available and accessible for the candidate cases or problem solving scenarios that can occur at any moment.

Sometimes solving one problem or making one decision can affect a month’s or year’s worth of work so that’s when all our preparation and constant communication comes into fruition.

Over time if I’m doing the right things as a leader, they should feel empowered to problem solve and make decisions more confidently.

Around 5:00pm I start to wrap up the last few items of the day and aim to catch my train home by 5:45pm. In recruiting we often have negotiations or candidate scenarios that require us to put in work outside the office so occasionally that work follows me home, but we try to consider those exceptions and not the norm.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

My role does allow for flexibility and remote work, but I prefer to be in a physical working space when we have high priority candidate interviews, partner meetings, or larger company announcements.

Because I have a medium to large team, I need to be structured in how I plan my week so that everyone has an equal opportunity to access me for problem solving. This can be done remotely, but access is a big part of being an effective leader.

There are days where I can move work around to give myself quiet time at home to work on strategy, process or planning. I’m usually afforded these days when I can load up more operational tasks and one on one meetings earlier in the week.

There’s a lot of work in recruiting that can be done just needing a phone, a laptop and internet access, however being constantly present for my team as a leader helps us develop trust.

Sometimes great ideas come from side conversations or us discussing a case immediately after a situation unfolds in the office. I’d say under normal circumstances I can usually take a work from home day once every two weeks if stick to a good plan.

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

I try to phrase this as life-work balance because I believe that life comes first and work although it’s extremely important, is just one element of life.

Working in fast growing companies, we invest so much of our time, emotion and energy into our work life, but it’s so important to take time off, to keep up with your hobbies, passions, and relationships because these are all equally as important to developing your character and making a contribution to the world.

For me that means creating dedicated time to my family, friends, and interests outside of work. I definitely take vacation and unplug to the best of my ability.

More recently I’ve been encouraging my team to stay offline in the late hours of the day and hold off on responding to emails or messages unless it’s absolutely critical. Understanding the difference between important versus urgent helps us to endure through our career as a marathon, not a sprint.

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

Over the last 12 months, I find myself reading more and reaching out to learn from other professionals in or out of my field. Also, I’ve added some more consistency in my diet. This is on top of weekly exercise and spending time with family and friends outside of the office.

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

My newest favourite book is The Ride Of A Lifetime by Bob Iger, Disney’s most recent and soon to be retired CEO. I love his take on innovation, relationships and necessary risk taking.

The book is filled with so many detailed stories on major deals and conflict resolution, like repairing relationships with Steve Jobs and Pixar to acquiring Marvel and how to not dilute the brand.

In addition, I’m loving MasterClass. There are so many great categories, and the videos are super digestible.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Spotify I love. More recently I’ve been enjoying my Fitbit. It keeps me on my toes, literally throughout the day. It gamifies my activity which I like.

Oh and I really love Tovala. It’s this new-age smart oven, that pairs with a fresher “cook at home” meal service. The meals are honestly super easy to make and I get a variety of choices per week that are health conscious. I LOVE this thing. I am a big foodie and eat out a lot, but this is a happy medium for the weekdays at a good price.

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

I would have loved to interview Kobe Bryant in his post-basketball playing career. RIP Kobe. If I had to choose someone today, I’d probably pick Lebron James. The reason is that he travels a lot, has major physical demands, has very successful business ventures, and has young teens that are learning the world. I’d love to get insight to time management, how he delegates, and prioritizes.

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

I believe that we find and create energy for the things that we care about most as opposed to trading off one for another. Take the time to figure out the activities and outlets that give you a sense of rejuvenation or refreshment.

Not all rest or balance is limited to sleep and minimizing physical activity. In fact, rest, relaxation and balance can be how we devote both our mental capacity and physical activity to those other outlets.

Focus on how changing attention, environment and pace affect you or the people around you to set up a regimen which allows for sustaining your ideal lifestyle.

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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.