Balancing the Grind with Laila Ayaz, People & Culture Lead at MyPass

Laila Ayaz is the People & Culture Lead at MyPass, a company that empowers workers to manage their training and competency information through a digital skills passport.

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

I completed my education in Turkey and kick started my career as a People and Culture Specialist in the tech startups in Istanbul, Turkey. I have always enjoyed working in tech startups. If you ask me why specifically tech startups? 

My answer would be – Working at a tech startup can be some of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of your life. Not only is the environment fast-paced and lean, the networking opportunities, the growth scale and the innovation that you witness is second to none.

I moved to Australia recently. I started working at MyPass almost a year ago as a People and Culture Associate and I am thrilled to say that I have been recently promoted to People and Culture Lead at MyPass. 

At MyPass, We’re empowering the workforce to own and control their competency information using digital Skills Passports. 

My role revolves around people. I have always seen myself as a gatekeeper of the company and the guardian of the company culture. Because it is my job to hire the right people for the right job and protect and sustain the team and the company culture. And I love doing it.

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

To be very honest, my day starts with a Long Black. I arrive in my office and before I sit at my desk. I quickly go down to grab my Long Black. Luckily, our Barista knows my usual so my order is always ready for me. 

My day starts with checking my Jira task list. We follow the AgileHR mindset and Scrum methodology in People & Culture at MyPass. We run biweekly sprints and it helps us to plan and estimate our 2 weeks workload and manage it efficiently.

I usually check my Jira and do a quick prioritisation of the tasks for the day. My role at MyPass is very dynamic. I look after the end to end recruitment, HR Analytics, performance management Process, retention and growth of our people and all the culture building activities. 

We have a culture club at MyPass, which is responsible for arranging all the culture related activities. We focus a lot on team building sessions as our team is distributed in many different locations across the globe. Therefore, one of the main focuses is to bring them together to connect and get to know each other not only as colleagues but personally as well.

I love bringing people together, celebrating their big & small achievements (yes! I usually do the small runs to get their birthday cakes as well) and catching up with them from time to time to listen to their feedback. 

One thing I have learnt in my People & Culture career is that recruitment is the easy part, retention of the talented people in your company is the challenging part. And the most basic and fundamental rule is to listen to your people and be open to their feedback. 

Every quarter we priortise recruitment roles and projects that will have a huge impact on the business. And it helps us a lot to focus on certain goals every quarter.

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

A lot of startups like to use the quote “Work Hard and Play Hard”. I am not a huge fan of it. Because I have seen the companies who refer to this,  can make the ‘Work Hard’ part a complete burn out part for their employees. And one should never forget that it’s easy to get burned out but it’s difficult to recover from it. 

Work and life balance has many definitions. For me, it’s not just about leaving the office and going home. It’s all a mental game. When leaving or finishing work, I mentally switch off my work mode and start thinking about what I am going to have for dinner tonight with my husband (Cooking helps me relax :D)

At work, Jira is my hero in my day to day completion of the tasks. It helps me to prioritise my daily to-do list, make sure I am on track to meet the biweekly sprint goal and when I come home my mind automatically switches to my personal life mode. 

I am also grateful that MyPass is quite flexible and we have a hybrid working system which lets me work at least 2 days from home. 

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

I was never a sports junkie but about 2 years ago I started kick-boxing and I loved it. It’s also a great way to take out all the frustration haha. Since then, I have made sure to have a regular gym/exercise routine and maintain an active routine. And it definitely keeps me mentally healthy. 

Also, I have always enjoyed reading but sometimes when the work gets hectic, it’s difficult to prioritize finishing a book. Therefore, recently I joined a bookclub. Not only it pushes me to finish a book in a month but I have also met some wonderful people there.

I enjoy seeing how one book can be perceived differently by different people and love to hear everyone’s perspectives because it helps me to broaden my perspective. 

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

  • Think Again by Adam Grant and also his podcast called work life with Adam Grant is great. 
  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott. This book helped me a lot when I became the lead for the first time. There is also a video about the summarized talk on this book by the author.
  • Ray Dalio – I love reading his daily posts on Linkedin. 
  • Jason M Lemkin – Always gives great insights about the SAAS industry.

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

Hmmm this question definitely made me think a lot. I think it would have been the late Queen (maybe because I am binge watching The Crown) Her work and personal life were very intertwined and I wonder if she actually believed in the work and life balance concept. 

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

Value the company that sees you, invests in you and listens to your opinions and ideas. They are the same people that will drive you crazy as well sometimes but don’t lose them. 

I have worked in many companies and one thing I have realized is that if you don’t enjoy your work, you won’t have a very productive work and life balance. Because you will never feel satisfied and happy at work and it will reflect on your personal life as well. 

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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.