HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Francesca Scantlebury, Head of Talent at Cutover

Francesca Scantlebury is the Head of Talent at Cutover, a company on a mission is to revolutionize work and help orchestrate humans and machine automation in a new model of working.

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

My background lies in technical recruiting and start-ups. After university, I started as a technical sourcer for a small start-up called WorksHub which gave me a great grounding knowledge of the world of engineering, which as a history grad, was pretty unfamiliar territory to me initially. 

I then worked as part of the talent team for the super high-growth start-up, Snyk. The company has scaled dramatically over the last few years and during my time there the business grew from a tribe of 80 to a village of 500. 

Now I am leading the talent team at Cutover, a SaaS start-up replacing spreadsheets, automating manual reporting, and connecting disparate tools through its orchestration and observability platform. I’m really enjoying the work as although the company is growing, it is doing so sustainably and with purpose, and I value the company’s values of empathy, curiosity, and trust. 

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

Every day is different though it follows particular themes; I typically divide my day into sections for admin, emails, and data oriented tasks; meetings and interviews; and finally, creative endeavours.

I find that organising my day according to my energy levels is incredibly helpful for boosting my productivity. For instance, I will usually complete tasks requiring higher levels of precision and concentration in the morning, and schedule my afternoons with more people-oriented meetings or creative tasks. 

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

My current role is very flexible, as Cutover’s approach to home vs office working is hybrid and they enable you to build a working scenario that suits you.

This trust and flexibility was a huge bonus for me as at the time of joining the company many other businesses were starting to urge employees back into the office a set number of days per week as the third lockdown in the UK came to a close. 

Also, in my role, I often speak with people from locations outside of the UK, and pre-covid there was nothing worse than commuting into the office to spend the entire day on Zoom. To be able to choose what days best suit me to go into the office or work from home is a privilege, and actually makes me more productive as I plan in advance for my environment.

For example, when I go into the office now I deliberately block out Zooms in favour of in-person meetings and catch-ups with my colleagues, which is great as it leads to higher-quality interactions and lets me be present in the moment.

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

To me, work-life balance means looking after yourself so you can establish a sustainable way to work that will not compromise your personal life, health, or wellness. It is impossible to achieve a perfect balance every day but it is something to strive towards.

For me, this means recognising that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and by having two or three main manageable goals to complete per working day, I feel a sense of accomplishment and am able to put my work down.

The mix of working from home and modern tech can make it so hard to switch off, but by having a sense of “finishing that to-do list” I feel able to take a break and create a clear boundary between work and life when finishing for the day.

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

I adopted a puppy last year and it’s safe to say my routine has changed immensely since doing so. It was a purposeful decision to change up my daily habits and get outside more during my day.

It’s been so refreshing to break up the day, get away from my desk and take in some fresh air. Personally, I’ve found having a giddy dog at the end of the day also makes it far easier to shut the laptop and finish up for the day. You’ll pay for it later if you don’t!

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

For a podcast, I’d recommend Culture First by Culture Amp, which covers what “it takes to build a better world of work”. I enjoy the psychological aspect of creating culture, and the episodes discuss a variety of topics from increasing emotional agility in the workplace, to keeping momentum while leading through a crisis. 

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

I’m pretty basic when it comes to gadgets – my phone and my kettle are really the only ones I can’t live without! For a break from screens and constant updates, I tend to shy away from gadgets like high-tech watches or kindles in preference to their analogue counterparts.

I also find it calming to have fewer apps on my phone (think of it as a tidy room!) so I tend to limit myself to the essentials, which for me are Slack, Gmail, and Linkedin. 

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

Whitney Wolfe Herd, the founder of Bumble. Becoming the world’s youngest female self-made billionaire and cementing her place in tech history, all while starting and raising a family is majorly impressive.

Her own commitment to her employees to achieve a greater work-life balance is also commendable; among initiatives, she increased parental leave and introduced monthly wellness stipends. It would be great to pick her brains further on how she has managed it all! 

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

Everyone’s perceptions of what contributes to an ideal work-life balance are different. Some thrive from working 60+ hours a week, while others need more time to decompress after work. Build your balance in a way that works for you and don’t compare yourself to others.

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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.