HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Katie Amin, Senior Manager, Human Resources, APAC at Skillsoft

Katie Amin is the Senior Manager, Human Resources, APAC at Skillsoft, an e-learning company offering content across business, IT, leadership, managing and more courses.

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

From the moment I secured my first role I knew I was destined to be in the field of Human Resource Management.

With a deep fascination for all things people, passion, purpose and performance related I am drawn to the psychology of what makes people thrive from both a personal and professional development perspective and how this impacts their performance and attitude toward achieving personal and professional goals.

I have over 15 years of experience in the field of Talent Management, more recently as the Human Resources Director of Trend Micro and currently as the APAC Senior Human Resource Manager for Skillsoft and SumTotal.

I have been afforded the responsibility to develop the Human Resource function to create an inclusive, engaging and high-performance and recognition driven culture. I mentor and guide individuals as well as provide strategic advice to business leaders to help them pivot and stay ahead of their business growth and transformation initiatives.

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

Now, more than ever, this is an ideal time for everyone to look inward and take the opportunity to grow and evolve both personally and professionally. After all, aren’t we all the CEOs of our own lives?

Since the beginning of this pandemic, I’ve taken a moment to pause and reflect on my life, articulating my goals and deepest desires to create my own growth strategy. Taking on a growth mindset, I am aware that I need to adapt to the new world and change the way I work and think.

I’ve started to focus more on me and how I manage my 1,440 minutes a day. I enjoy waking up at 5:30am every morning so that I have the first hour of the day all to myself.

Having moved to Melbourne two years ago, I am fortunate enough to live in a luxurious apartment with what could be described as the best view of Melbourne. This makes practicing gratitude, visualisation and saying affirmations each morning whilst watching the sun rise so much more joyful.

I follow this hour by my favourite part of the day, an hour of exercise or walk alongside the Yarra River. It is in this hour that I experience solitude, a time of day where I can reconnect with my heart and core, allowing me to daydream.

It is only after this “me time” that I am ready to face the day. Having a busy household, my mornings are a mixture of attending to early morning calls with business leaders from the US and preparing my kids for their day.

My schedule for the day is usually pre-set within my calendar and with a quick review of what the day has in store for me, I lock in any final changes and I begin my day.

I spend time checking in on individual team members and team and attending to cross-functional business calls to maintain a pulse on the business and oversight into business requirements and employee needs.

I have always maintained a strong alliance with other business units within my remit focusing on interrelated relationships, collaboration, and productivity.

Especially since the start of the pandemic I see an amplified need for an increased level of engagement, support and cross collaboration between team members. I am also mindful to allocate time to focus on local and global matters, projects and initiatives.

Furthermore, I take great pride in supporting a ‘People First’ culture creating a culture where the team feel that they are well informed, heard and well taken care of, noting that their physical and mental health as well as wellbeing, especially at this time, is my number one priority.

As such we have prioritised rolling out initiatives which take the whole person into consideration. I believe that if we take good care of our team members and appreciate and strive to understands each employees’ circumstances, they will in return replicate such caring behaviour and support with each other, our customers and business.

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

One of the many reasons I was so keen to secure a role at Skillsoft was because of the remote working offering. Having this flexibility to work remotely is so imperative to my personal needs which also closely aligned to my strong work ethic.

I spoke with many long-tenured employees, within the APAC region, to understand how remote working benefitted them. Similarly to me, many have children and family responsibilities they are juggling as well as other extracurricular activities. Most believe their time is better spent not having to commute back and forth to an office each day.

Once I had joined Skillsoft, I realised how much trust our business had in the APAC team, at a time when remote working was not the norm. Several months into my role, I realised how harmoniously and diligently the self-motivated and high-performing APAC team was working remotely, making such flexible remote working a no-brainer.

This level of flexibility, trust, team camaraderie and role ownership has seen the APAC team lead the globe as the winner of Skillsoft’s Global Region of the Year for FY20.

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

I am so grateful that working at Skillsoft provides me with the opportunity to balance the two significant areas of my life, both of which I am equally passionate about – my family and my career.

Being able to truly balance commitments from both of these worlds brings me joy and allows me to give my best to both. Having this flexibility to integrate both work and life responsibilities for me, creates a richer, more engaging, and more fulfilling experience.

Knowing that I do not have to rush the early morning routine, getting the kids ready and out the door and having to endure the morning traffic or battle for a seat on the public transport.

Knowing that I can attend to any not to be missed, once in a lifetime, schooling events such as award receiving assemblies or school performance.

Knowing that I can balance any unexpected circumstances, looking after an ill child, accepting a delivery at home, having the flexibility to manage personal commitments within the 9-5 working hours.

Knowing that I can pick the kids up after school every day listening to their school day and accomplishments/achievements. Settling them down into their homework routine, whilst arranging for dinner at home.

Knowing that I have the flexibility to work the hours needed to build closer relationships with team/team members across multiple time zones, jumping back online later in the evening to catch my peers with direct communications, allowing for interconnected relationships.

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

A stronger focus on scheduling my everyday commitments, including both business-related as well as personal commitments.

I have a strong philosophy that if goals and actions are not written down they are just wishes and can easily be forgotten or day-to-day distractions can easily side-track you.

As a result, instead of maintaining a to-do list, I use my online outlook calendar, colour coordinated for ease of reference – external meetings in red, internal meetings in blue, notifications in orange, projects in purple, to action in pink and personal commitments in green.

Scheduling in time helps me to build a routine so that I can be intentional in my efforts and to create healthy and positive habits, such as scheduling exercise, breaks, school pick up and after school commitments.

Being able to set aside time to focus on projects as well as to action items such as employee check-ins or reminders to follow up on actions helps to keep me to stay on top of relationships and helps me remain accountable.

Adding notifications within my calendar also helps me to schedule month, quarterly, annual reminders so that this becomes one less requirement/responsibility I need to remember.

I also appreciate the principle of the pomodoro technique and as such I schedule in either 25 minute blocks of work/meetings if they are traditionally meant to be 30 minutes long, or otherwise 50 minutes for 60 minute blocks/meeting of uninterrupted focused time.

These blocks, called Pomodoro is the intervals of time spent working. The additional 5 or 10 minutes I have remaining I use to schedule in more time to follow up action items on, review what was discussed/learnt, have a quick break to hydrate, stretch, move and conduct a posture check and complete a 4-7-8 breathing technique before I ease into the next 25 or 50 minute scheduled block time.

Time can easily fly by, so by being intentional with the amount of time I spend on various activities, by scheduling time for both personal and professional commitments, I feel that I can make the most out of my day.

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

I’m fortunate to have access to the world’s largest library of corporate micro-learning assets though Skillsoft’s Percipio platform. With a truly mobile experience I can learn from anywhere, at any time and on any device, also within the flow of my work.

Percipio provides me with bite sized pieces of learning I can undertake through reading books, listing to audio books and watching video courses, more than often providing me with enough content to propel me further or otherwise providing me with the opportunity to come back and complete courses and learning paths should I wish to delve in deeper on the subject matter.

The most recent book I read was Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, my all-time favourite books would have to be The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Start with Why by Simon Sinek and Leading an Inspired Life by Jim Rohn.

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

I thoroughly enjoy using my Apple devices – iPhone, iPad and iWatch, these devices allow me to sync many of my apps across multiple devices allowing me to truly work from anywhere, at any time.

These devices allow me to stay connected with my family, as well as my peers and my commitments, ensuring I do not miss a beat with respect to e-mails, communications, calendar reminders as well as staying up to date with the local and worldwide news, also providing me with access to areas of interest from the comfort of my home.

I also consider Siri to be my personal assistant. If you haven’t acquainted yourself with Siri now is a great time to start. I also do not have a mentor, per se, but I do use my mobile devices to upskill, reskill and cross skill.

I look for inspiring quotes and videos, blogs and vlogs, and books which help me to continue to evolve and bring a new perspective to my train of thought and life.

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

With so much uncertainty in the world today, one thing should be for certain and that should be a focus on our personal and professional growth. There is no better time than now to focus on what is in our control, what we can do and areas of our lives we can influence.

For me, knowing that every day brings on new scenarios and challenges whether that be in my personal or professional life helps me to maintain an open mindset to continue to listen, learn and apply.

To be able to successfully integrate both spheres of work and life is no easy feat but the more aware you become about the importance of finding that balance that works for you the more fulfilled you will become. Being able to continuously learn, evolve and grow encourages me to see that times of uncertainty are also ripe with opportunity.

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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.