Balancing the Grind with Diah Fawnia, Head of Talent Acquisition at Ajaib Group

Diah Fawnia is the Head of Talent Acquisition at Ajaib Group, an online brokerage that allows Indonesians to buy and sell stocks, ETFs and mutual funds.

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

To start things off, I am the Head of Talent Acquisition for Ajaib Group, a fast-growing investment platform that reached unicorn status two and a half years after our launch in 2018.

To streamline the extent of a Head of Talent Acquisition role, I lead the strategy behind capturing the best talent globally! With a Work from Anywhere policy, it is possible to acquire the world’s best and diverse workforce, all to increase financial inclusion for Indonesians. 

In my career, I have mostly been pivoting from the Talent Acquisition domain to the HR Business Partnering space and vice versa. I’ve experienced working in industries that go through hypergrowth, such as digital asset management, digital banking, eCommerce, eWallet, and Food Delivery. I owe my leadership experience to these companies’ growth, from managing a team of 2 initially to up to 120 people at its peak. 

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

Every day is different, but my day usually starts with waking up at 7:30 am, making coffee, and clearing Slack notifications to ensure I catch messages that require immediate attention. 

While having breakfast and coffee, I tune in to the news and get my daily dose of headlines. Even though we have a Work from Anywhere policy where meetings and interviews are done online, I make it a point to dress up and feel tip-top, ready to start the day fresh! 

Work usually starts at 8.30 am for me. I stack up a few to-do items on my Google Calendar the day before, so I clear them first thing in the morning. They are usually reports that I have to prepare and submit or follow-ups that I have to send to my team and colleagues. I get those out of the way by 9.30 am and start my interviews and meetings till 4 pm with a 40-60 minutes lunch break, depending if it is a lunch meeting or not. 

At around 4 pm, I clear emails and Slack notifications that I don’t get to answer in-between meetings. I arrange upcoming interviews during this time and prepare quick write-ups on the candidates I interview on that day so that I can generate quick decisions from the hiring managers. 

I end a work day at 6-6.30 pm, have dinner, catch up with friends or family or just stay in and catch a good movie / TV show. On some occasions, there are late-night calls with candidates from different time zones, so I will clock in 1 to 2 calls from 9.30 pm onwards.

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

To me, work-life balance means having the time and mental capacity to pursue other things in life. 

I am based in Jakarta, a metropolitan city. It can get quite stifling being in a city for many months constantly. I need to be closer to nature from time to time. So being able to call it a day and catch the sunset by the beach when you really need it is invaluable. 

But being at the beach while having our minds worry about work all the time is also not work-life balance. So it’s not just about being there; it’s about truly believing that we have what it takes and the time to accomplish it. 

We must be honest and choose what we want to spend our time and energy on. There may come a time when many opportunities present themselves at work. While it is flattering, we must select critically without sacrificing too much. Some projects may make us feel important, but are they building the right skills for us to be better at what we do?

Also, we are all so caught up with back-to-back meetings the whole day that we forget to allocate time for the actual work. Always have a one to two hours block on your calendar to deliver, and not only start working after hours when all the meetings have ended.

Even worse, we worry about them while having dinner with our loved ones because we think we don’t have the time to finish them. Block your calendar so you can visualise when you can work on them and when exactly you can submit them. It helps give you peace of mind before leaving work or going to sleep. 

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

My most significant change was to join a new company and change job scopes from a far too varied one to a more focused one. I chose what I wanted to channel my time and energy on to bring a bigger impact to the organisation and make space for other things in life. 

I have been flying to neighbouring cities or islands every few months and working from there for a week or two to be closer to nature. I also started having a cup of cold-pressed juice every morning to help with detoxification. 

Having a more balanced life, I get to create moments with my 4-year-old nephew where we paint, swim, have our meals by the pool, and play at the playground every once in a while. 

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

I find Daniel Goleman’s Leadership that Gets Results by Harvard Business Review particularly practical in shaping my leadership styles. I’ve been applying it daily at work for a couple of years now and have reaped the benefits of managing diverse teams. 

I subscribe to The Economist and often listen to the audio articles in the morning while having breakfast. 

Currently, I’m reading Practical Self-Sufficiency by Dick & James Strawbridge. I figured it would be nice to pick up some skills in growing staple food. For light reading, I recommend Dear Girls by Ali Wong. It’s one of those books that makes you laugh one minute and be tearful the next. 

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

I know this is entirely biased, but that would be my sister. I still wonder how she can juggle running her own F&B business with multiple outlets across two countries while raising three young boys with a spouse equally successful in his own trade. 

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

I only truly felt the power of having control when I started to choose. Choose what you want to spend your time and energy on. The same goes for choosing who we want to spend our time with. Having the right jobs is as important as being with the right people.

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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.