HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Laura Petruccelli, Director of People – APAC at Contino

Laura Petruccelli is the Director of People – APAC at Contino, a transformation consultancy that helps large, heavily-regulated enterprises to become fast, agile and competitive.

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

I started out my career in accounting and taxation. I quickly learned that I needed a more people oriented role but loved the business and commercial elements I had exposure to through accounting.

I was fortunate enough to land a role in Human Resources and 18+ years later here I am. All of my HR career has been within the tech and digital industries which I absolutely love due to the dynamic nature.

My current role is as Director of People Operations for Contino APAC. Contino is a global IT transformation consultancy who works with highly regulated enterprises to transform their ways of working through DevOps, DevSecOps, Data and Ways of Working. 

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

My day starts at 5am. I have a quick sneak peek at my Slack to see what if anything I’ve missed overnight at work (as we’re a global business) and respond to any of my global colleagues.

I then head off to the gym around 5.30am for a strength and conditioning group training session. I like to knock it off first thing in the morning before any of the day’s curve balls get thrown at me. That way there are no excuses!

Then usually a morning coffee with my training partners, breakfast at home and I’m logged on by about 8am.

Everyday is a different one which is what I love about what I do. Today the day has kicked off with a workforce management meeting, a group coaching session for the Women Rising course that I’m completing, a working lunch in the city with colleagues and a couple of 1:1s and an ELT meeting to cap off the day. In between meetings I’ll be working on our 2022 People plan along with doing some prep work for our upcoming remuneration reviews. 

I usually log off around 6.30pm, dinner with my partner, a bit of wind down mindless trash TV and I’m curled up in bed by 9.30pm ready to do it all over again. 

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

Absolutely, we have full flexibility when it comes to choosing where to work from. I’ve really gotten used to working from home and absolutely love not having to commute but I do miss the face to face interactions and getting to know people.

So I like a good mix and try to spend at least 1 day in the office a week.  When I do go into the office I usually head straight in from the gym rather than backtracking and spending more time in traffic or on public transport.

When the weather is good I like to leave my car at the gym and walk into the office and then back at the end of the day. It’s lovely to pop a podcast in and wind down.

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

Work life balance is so subjective and means different things to different people. In fact it means different things to me at different times. It’s about having the flexibility to adjust my work schedule to ensure what’s important to me outside of work remains a priority.

Over the years I’ve learned the hard way about the importance of boundaries. My boundaries flex when they need to but as a general rule nothing gets in the way of my training, it’s the 1 hour a day that’s me time that keeps me physically and mentally strong and resilient.

The other is my evenings with my partner, after 8pm I’m present to ensure I have time to spend with him. The responsibility of boundary setting is on the individual – no one else can create or hold them other than yourself and if your work life balance isn’t right, it rests on you to reflect on your boundaries and where you’re allowing intrusion into what’s important to you.

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

Throughout the ins and outs of lockdowns in Melbourne I’ve obviously had to make some adjustments but I was really adamant to maintain my daily routine of getting up early and training, this was a personal non negotiable and kept me energised and resilient throughout.

The other thing I’ve learned to do is to literally close my home office door at the end of the day and that marks the close of my work day. I’ve been really conscious of not letting work seep into all hours of the day and night simply because we’ve been in lockdown. 

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

The Hard Thing about Hard Things – Ben Horowitz. Great book on the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, running tech companies and everything life throws at you.

FORTY – the podcast equivalent of a little black book for the middle years. Hosts Lise and Sarah (who both turned 40 in 2020) celebrate the life lessons and stories of women in their fifth decade.

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

My Garmin watch. I’m obsessed with the data it provides on my sleep scores, fitness levels and stress indicators.

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

Learning the art of understanding your own values and creating boundaries is my biggest professional recommendation. I learnt the hard way earlier in my career burning out, not prioritising my health and not paying enough attention to my marriage.

All of my earlier heartache could have been prevented if I’d learned sooner that I can still be high performing, that I can excel at what I do but I can also have and maintain boundaries and a life and interests outside of work. If you don’t fit your own oxygen mask first, how else do you expect to have anything left in the tank to help and support 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.