Balancing the Grind with Jason West, Recruitment Manager at Akcelo

Jason West is the Recruitment Manager and Resources Manager at at brand experience agency, Akcelo, where he manages recruitment, studio resources and HR.

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

I have a mixed career background, after I finished university, I moved to Germany where I started working as an English teacher in Frankfurt.

After almost 4 years, I moved to London where I landed in hospitality management. It was during this time I started getting a real interest in HR as I was doing a lot of work with training and recruitment for the company I was with.

I took some courses specific to HR and had my placement at TribalDDB in London where I took on a role split between digital traffic management and recruitment. Over the years there I progressed my career to the Creative Services Manager.

I moved to Sydney in 2012 and continued working in creative agencies (M&C Saatchi, Holler, With Collective) working across creative / studio management and recruitment.

In 2017 I started my own recruitment consultancy working with some great clients sitting inhouse or as an external recruiter.

Recently I started at Akcelo managing recruitment, studio resources and HR. It is a great group of people I am working with and a lot of exciting work.

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

Today I decided to have my first meeting of the day via video from home. This gave me the time prior to my meeting to go for a long walk with my partner and dog.

After the meeting, I made my way to the office. I split my day almost equally between recruitment, HR and resource management, so today I had interviews (phone, video and in-person), resource and project meetings and a few catch-ups to fill my day.

In the middle of the day, I ducked out to the gym for a quick 30-40 minute workout. This gym visit totally recharges me for the afternoon. At 5:45 I was heading out the door, a bit later than normal for me.

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

Akcelo launched in the middle of the COVID lockdown so everything was remote from the beginning and some of the team live in places such as Melbourne, Brisbane, and Byron Bay. In the new year, Akcelo will look to keep flexible working with at least 3 days in the office with our core team living in Sydney.

I try for 1-2 days at home per week, which works great for me as I can get through a lot of work on those days. I schedule fewer meetings those days and it allows me time to do some personal admin and chores that are usually saved for the weekend.

With regards to flexible hours, I usually start around 8 and leave about 5 and it is normal for me to log in for an hour or so in the evening. COVID has led to some positive changes in our workdays.

Currently, we have an ops meeting at 8:30 on a Monday. Pre-COVID, everyone would have had to be in the office for that meeting. Now it is totally accepted that some people will be joining by video from home, or while still on their way to the office. We have adapted to be more flexible, and I think it is a great thing.

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

For me, work-life balance is making sure I have time for myself. This includes things like taking time in the middle of the workday and going to the gym, I try not to do anything work-related on my commute and try to use that time for personal calls or listening to podcasts.

I work at least one day a week at home, and I don’t sit in the office till 6 pm just because I have to, my team and my managers know that I get my work done, and the days I may leave early are balanced with a bit of work I will do out of normal office hours.

I try to get all my work done during my workday, being as organized and efficient with my time as I can be so I don’t have to do too many things in the evening. Oh, and if the cafe close to work makes a great brownie.

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

Over the past several months I have been trying to do more yoga and I think I have found a nice balance between time at the gym, and time at the yoga studio. I find yoga helps me shut out the world for an hour and really relaxes me.

I have also stopped taking my mobile on my walks with the dog as much so I can be more in the moment and not feeling like I have to check my phone every few minutes. I have also finally started listening to podcasts, to help find some inspiration to start and end my workday.

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

One of my favorite podcasts at the moment is Moonshots. They focus on innovative people in the business world. I know both the guys from working with them previously and find there are always gems of information that I can use in my work and personal life.

I have been reading a lot of history books focused on the Tudor Reign, but recently read A Thousand Little Light Bulbs by Simon Banks about bringing in more creativity and innovation in the workplace.

What I liked about this book is that I have been working in the creative industry for several years but never considered myself creative. But now I have embraced that creativity is so much more than creating campaigns, and how we can be creative in so many tasks we do every day.

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

My Kindle! I have always been an avid reader and go through a few books every month. What I love about my Kindle is if I am not in the mood for my history or business books, I can quickly switch to fiction. If I am reading German and come across a word I don’t know I can quickly look it up.

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

I am sure there is one out there, but I think I would like to read an interview on work-life balance with Jacinda Arden, politics aside (though I am a fan) I think the way she can juggle being a mother to a young child, wife and leader of a country while seeming to radiate a positive outlook is inspiring.

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

As difficult COVID-19 has been for many of us, I think there are some positive changes we have had to implement in our lives that we can keep in practice going forward.

For example, in the creative industry, it was never a practice to work from home. With the shutdown, we found we could work from home and still be very productive. At Akcelo we will look to have a policy for at least 3 days in the office in 2021, helping us to create a better work-life balance for our team.

I am also looking at flexible start and end times to allow travelling to work outside of peak commuting times. I have always strived to personally have a good work-life balance and feel I work at a place that actually supports it and doesn’t just give lip service.

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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.