HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Nicolas Goncalves, Human Resource Director ANZ at AbbVie

Nicolas Goncalves is the Human Resource Director ANZ at AbbVie, a pharmaceutical company that was recently awarded #2 in the Great Place to Work ranking in Australia.

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

I studied psychology in Spain, and have been working in HR for the past 17 years. Before joining my current organisation, I worked as an HR consultant for a year and a half. This June will mark my 16th anniversary at AbbVie.

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

I wake up at 5:20am and go play sports at 6am. It starts my day on a high note and gets it ticked off my to-do list. I normally arrive at the office around 8:30-9am. About 60 per cent of my workday is meetings – management team meetings, project related meetings, 1:1 meetings with employees or leaders.

The rest of the day I am advancing the topics discussed during those calls. After work, I try to do something social, at least on most days. I don’t like my work-week to be only about work.

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

AbbVie is well known for its workplace flexibility, and was practicing it long before COVID-19 came to our lives. I am a very people-oriented person, so I choose to come to the office every day. I get energised when I am around people. Fridays are usually the days I work from home where I try to get more back office and admin related activities done.

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

For me, work-life balance is the confidence in knowing that I own my agenda. It is feeling comfortable starting work later some days because I have a personal appointment, and catching up on that extra work at a different time that works better for me.

It is leaving the office at 2pm to avoid traffic, and then continuing to work from home because I will be in back to back virtual calls for the rest of the afternoon, and feel more comfortable doing them from my home office.

Work-life balance is about having trust from the organisation and knowing that no one “raises an eyebrow” if I come or go at any time. Knowing that my team trusts me to get the job done (and I trust them to do theirs), that’s what matters to me.

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

I’ve become way more committed to sport. I wasn’t before. I find having sport as part of my routine helps me release stress and makes me feel much better both physically and mentally. I also sleep better! All important side effects. 

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

Lately my life has been pretty much dominated by Netflix, but now I am reading through The Enigma of Room 622 by Joel Dicker. Highly recommending it!

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

Just my phone. I hardly use my wallet anymore, even more so with the virtual driving license that’s now available in NSW!

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

I truly believe work-life balance is one of the most personal concepts. What is important for me, may be completely irrelevant for others and vice versa. I would read interviews out of curiosity, knowing that it would probably sound “foreign” to me. 

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

We always talk about finding a job that one loves, so that it feels you don’t work a day in your life. For me, equally important, would be to find a company whose values fit like a glove with mine. In that way, one doesn’t have an employer, but an extended family. I believe that’s the secret to my 16 years seniority within AbbVie!

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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.