HR & Culture / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Rebecca McDonald, People, Culture and Talent Manager at CartonCloud

Rebecca McDonald is the People, Culture and Talent Manager at CartonCloud, whose mission is to transform the logistics industry through end-to-end simplicity.

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

My background has predominantly been in recruitment and people engagement. I have always enjoyed the challenge of combining the science of assessment processes with the art of building a better understanding of what truly engages people and how they might achieve their career dreams.

If you asked my children, they used to tell people I made friends with people and then gave them jobs! I guess essentially, they were right! One of my first roles was recruiting photographers to work in a theme park in Florida, where customers could swim with dolphins!

Whilst my career has evolved from that incredibly fun beginning, I have continued to focus on the people. I have always sought roles where, once someone has joined the business, I still have an opportunity to impact their career beyond the initial hiring decision. My leap into the tech and startup world was truly enlightening for me.

I think, in part, because when you strip away the corporate offices and suits (making jeans and t-shirts super trendy at work), you focus more on people’s capability and passion, and the purpose feels more real.

Personally, I found a new confidence, as my general preference for introversion was overwhelmed by the fact that I was often one of the more effervescent and chatty team members in the open-space, hot-desk offices. I have never seen so many noise-cancelling headphones appear at one time!

My interest in taking on a role that is people-centric and more than recruiting alone has been fuelled through some unique opportunities that have been afforded to me. Working in small business has definitely enabled that.

I took a bit of a gamble on CartonCloud, based on how I connected with the team, identifying that there was far more future potential beyond the initial Talent Acquisition Manager role on offer. I was eager for the opportunity to prove myself! I am thrilled to say that just 5 months in, I am now the People, Culture and Talent Manager.

I am truly fortunate to be working with a fabulous mentor who enables me to step up with greater confidence and conviction. I am thrilled to be able to continue to grow and challenge myself, drive changes and new ideas, and make a significant impact on the whole business. 

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

My days are pretty diverse at the moment, so in many ways, working from home is beneficial. We are recruiting new roles in Canada to support our product launch into North America, and I am implementing new recruitment tech, with system support based out of the UK! Soooo….

I start early in the morning to catch candidates in Canada as their days draw to a close. Most candidates seem to appreciate the ability to talk and interview at the end of the day however it does make for some hectic mornings!

I have usually achieved 1-2 hours of work before the rest of my family wakes up. As everyone heads out the door, I head out for a morning cycle or walk the dog, enjoying the sunshine.

Back to work and I will engage in all sorts of activities – whether it be designing creative ways to advertise and recruit roles, formalising performance review guidelines, discussing new corporate goals for the year, rolling out a new employee engagement survey, or adding a bit of “colour” to our TownHall content to ensure our team stay tuned!

But just last week, I joined cookie decorating classes with our team all around the world! I usually take an hour or two out of the afternoon to pick up the kids, complete a few activity runs, get dinner in progress and then will jump back online to work through any system challenges with the UK ATS support team, enjoy some quiet focus time and prep for the next day!

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

For me, it means using my time to gain the best out of me. It means being able to be there for my kids when it is important, and even when it doesn’t seem so important. I use it to play to my strengths – creative writing is easier for me at night, in the morning, I want to complete as many tasks as possible (I love a good checklist!).

Late morning is focus time and then after lunch I tend to fade and think about the kids. I might go for a walk, or reset by getting household jobs done, or prepping dinner, so that I can focus on my family when they get home and get back to work after their bedtime.

Of course, it never works quite this perfectly, but it is helpful to go easy on myself and know when I thrive at certain tasks. Many people I know depend on meditation as a critical tool in their daily schedule.

I have not really been one to dedicate time to meditation specifically, however, when I exercise, I make a conscious decision not to take my phone or listen to music. Instead, I focus on my surroundings and my thoughts. I think it is important to consciously separate from the endless notifications and pings! No phones allowed!

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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 riding in to work most days, but with a change in role, I no longer needed to be in the city. In fact, I am now working from home more often and commuting to the Gold Coast to be with the team once per week.

I have realised that I really do enjoy connecting with people regularly, so I have made sure I commit to heading out and meeting with someone in my network for coffee once per week.

I have also had to work on allocating dedicated exercise time and feeling okay about heading out in the middle of the work day! I had loved the time saving element of exercising whilst travelling to work, so this has been a bit of an adjustment!

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

Work Life with Adam Grant – This is my go-to podcast on the drive to the Gold Coast.

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker has challenged me to think about when we run events, and even regular meetings, to bring people together, ensuring it is truly purposeful and achieves maximum results.

Hung Lee has a great newsletter “Recruiting Brainfood” which I love reading on a Monday morning, and his podcasts are fabulous too.

One idea that has always stuck in my mind and influences my approach to recruiting is from Patrick Lencioni, in his book The Ideal Team Player. I look for three virtues, being humble, hungry and smart.

I feel these are particularly important for startup and rapid growth environments, where you rely on that level of humility, passion and capability to ride the waves of excitement, pace and challenge.

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

The obvious answer has to be my mum! She raised me and my two sisters – all with incredibly different personalities and interests, worked full time, and renovated houses as a “side hustle” (not sure this was “a thing” back then).

Our activity and school schedule would have been insane and yet we have all grown up as great mates, living all around Australia and desperately looking forward to every chance we get to catch up. We now all have children of our own, work full time in careers to be proud of, and have been sucked into manic crazy schedules, believing we could do it all too!

An alternative and rather fun response I think, would be rock star, Pink. I grew up rocking it out to her music, and feel her advice on raising a family and managing the crazy would be brutally honest, quite inspiring and also, very entertaining!

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

Work with companies who feel good for you. Don’t worry about the job title or brand name so much – find people you enjoy working with where you know you will be challenged. If you enjoy what you do and you are surrounded by talented people, I believe things have a way of working out in the long term. 

Planning is key for me. I take pride in planning out my personal and work week to maximise efficiency and minimise time waste! Advice from my early days in hospitality has stuck. I was told to never walk anywhere in the restaurant without a purpose, and without taking something with me on route to achieve another purpose.

I still apply this philosophy today! It can drive my family to distraction and I am conscious that it may make me a little change resistant and less flexible, but in my mind I feel successful when striving for peak efficiency!

Some great advice I received recently – in  a parenting course at my daughters’ school (presented by Glen Gerreyn, who is fabulous!). I’ll admit, I generally dread these events because you discover all the things you are missing/not doing as a parent. However, this one was different.

The first point made was to “Enjoy your children”. This was a bit of a novel concept to me, but the reality is, they know when we are “tolerating them”. Simple ideas were shared, like embracing the fact that our kids now communicate by devices and considering how we could use this to our advantage.

As background, I have typically been the “most strict parent” when it comes to technology, and have very little tolerance for time spent on devices at home, so this was a bit of a “shake-up”! So I tried something new! Whilst my 14 yr old was at school, I sent her a text message letting her know I was thinking of her and hoping she was having a great day.

The reply shocked me… “What’s wrong Mum?” “What have you done?”. Ooops! Once I reassured her, she did admit it was very nice and I was given permission to send more messages like that! This was a simple parent strategy that can mean so much and is so easy to do! 

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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.