Balancing the Grind with Robyn Djelassi, Chief People Officer at Vinomofo

Robyn Djelassi is the Chief People Officer at Vinomofo, a wine lovers community sharing ideas and deals on their favorite drinks.

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

I studied Computer Science at university thinking I would become a developer one day and very quickly realised that while I loved tech, I was never going to have a successful career writing code! My brain isn’t wired that way and I tend to be better with humans than technology.

While studying I held a number of part-time jobs in hospitality to pay the bills and eventually I landed a role on reception for an IT Recruitment firm. That was the start of a career in agency and inhouse recruitment, primarily in the ICT space which then led to a career in Human Resources.

These days I am the Chief People Officer for Vinomofo. We’re an ecommerce wine company and my role involves everything from employer branding, governance and compliance, employee relations and developing systems and programs that ensure we’re a great place to work. 

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

I’ll take you through last Wednesday which was a fairly standard day for me working from home.

  • 7am: Wake up, strong black coffee in bed (every morning!) stretch and get ready for the day ahead.
  • 7.15am: Wake up my two boys, make breakfast, get them ready for school and myself ready for work.
  • 8.00am: Catch up on the news, check my diary, emails and Slack messages.
  • 8.30am: School-run
  • 9.00am-10.30am: Quiet time work. (Every day I use this time to focus on my highest priorities without distraction and while well caffeinated)
  • 11.30am: People and Culture team check-in. (I work with two very talented HR Business Partners and we stay connected by checking in daily for between 15 -30 minutes. We share our plans for the day and tackle issues together.) 
  • 12.00pm: Meetings.
  • 1.30pm: A walk along the esplanade with our family’s new labrador, Bruno. (Bruno is very energetic and tends to drag me along the esplanade, in truth).
  • 2.15pm: Meetings.
  • 3.00pm: Two hour Executive Team strategy session.
  • 5.30pm: Meeting with our CX, Wine Dealer and VinoDirect leaders.

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

I am really proud of the flexibility that Vinomofo offers. Our culture supports diversity, creativity and living a full life so offering the flexibility to work remotely or in an office just makes sense. 

My family made the move to the Mornington Peninsula during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were craving space and to be closer to the ocean, fresh air and eventually the wineries when they reopened. Most of the week you will find me working from my home office overlooking Port Phillip Bay with a black labrador under my feet and my husband working downstairs.

We are a group of people who genuinely enjoy each other’s company though so for all the flexibility we offer, I do work from the office one or two days every week. I miss the energy, the music, all of our office dogs and mostly, the incredible people I work with. I think I have found the right balance.

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

Understanding that work is a part of my life and not my entire life took me a while to learn. I have sacrificed a lot for my career in the past – including my health.

The ‘new normal’ of hybrid and flexible working is something I’ve been unsuccessfully striving to achieve for over a decade. Now that it is here, I am making the most of it! 

I take my children to school every day because spending time with them makes me happy and what better way to start your day. I couldn’t do that in previous roles because I needed to be in an office before the school bell even rang.

I prioritise work that requires strong focus to the mornings when I am fresh, ensure I exercise during the afternoons and completely switch off on the weekends. 

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

I am a sucker for Slack and find myself racing to respond to every message that pops up on my screen within seconds.

It’s distracting and not entirely productive either. Recently I have been playing around with pausing my notifications when I am in meetings or just need space to concentrate. I am not entirely comfortable with it yet but it’s a work in progress.

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

Amantha Imber’s latest book, Time Wise is really insightful and packed full of tips, rituals and routines of high achievers. Her podcast, How I Work is essential listening for me.

Justine Figo’s book, On the Same Page – 5 Conversations for Top Team Cultures provides great actionable advice on building high performance cultures.

I also subscribe to the Juris Press newsletter which keeps me up to date with all things HR and safety including recent case law and industry trends.

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

I am breaking my Slack habit and I think if I went cold turkey there would be some consequences!

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

Lauren Cassimatis. Lauren is a great friend of mine who also happens to be an accomplished entrepreneur, successful lawyer, mother to two beautiful children and the life of every girls’ catch up we have. To this day, I have no idea how she manages it all.

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

Culture is everything. When an organisation hires you, they know they’re hiring a person with a life outside of work. Great leaders understand that, embrace and encourage that.

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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.