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Balancing the Grind with Shaira Javier, Talent & HR Lead at Apollo

Shaira Javier is the Talent & HR Lead at Apollo, an all-in-one sales intelligence platform with tools to help users prospect, engage, and drive more revenue.

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

I have a history of working in the IT industry – first starting my career in SaaS sales and exponentially moving from Sales to Recruitment to overall HR Operations for a global worldwide remote team!

Over the past years, I’ve been handling Talent Acquisition in various regions and have now focused on all aspects of Human Resources.

At Apollo (a sales intelligent and engagement platform Silicon Valley tech startup headquartered in San Francisco), I head the Talent Acquisition and HR function – running HR with excellence (compliance, payroll, onboarding, learning & development, performance management, and career development, as well as day-to-day company wide administration ), owning end-to-end recruiting system (I did not inherit any process as part of a Series A startup, so I had the opportunity to scale everything from scratch) as well as own building an outstanding remote-first culture in partnership with the whole leadership team. I used to be a one-man team for almost a year until we hired people within the People team! 

We grew the team 180% in the past 6 months and are continuously growing both in revenue and  talent (we just raised Series C and are now present in 32 countries!) 

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

I try to wake up early around 5:30-6am. Recently since coming back to Mexico, this has varied, so I can head to workout early. But the first thing I do is check my slack, it’s actually my most used app.

I normally wake up to a number of messages from colleagues in APAC, so I want to get back to them right away if there’s something urgent. I go on about my day. (I like having an early morning because it’s some quiet time before most of my colleagues start to work). I plan my day after training based on my previous weekly business review’s “next 7 days”. I try to follow the Eisenhower Matrix

1. Urgent and important tasks (high deadline costs)

2. Important, but not urgent (tasks I can do later)

3. Urgent, but not important (can automate etc)

4. Neither urgent nor important (do last)

I spent my recent workday speaking with all our Department leaders discussing the results of our engagement survey which we use in the Company’s planning process to identify the team and organisational strengths as well as any areas for improvement.

It was a really important in depth talk to allow our team  to develop a real sense of understanding of our departments’ situations. I also spent my day talking to them about Selling points for potential new hires as part of our Recruitment Training Project so we can analyse and compile all of this for our next training session. 

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

Absolutely. We are a remote-first organisation and we have a worldwide remote team (32 countries and counting). One thing I get asked a lot everyday is “How are you? Where in the world are you right now?” And they say it with great admiration. I started travelling while working in the middle of Pandemic 2020.

I have taken meetings and done work days in beaches, in hotel rooms, in airbnbs, in apartments, and other beautiful settings as well as cramped hotels, spotty locations, and not-so-beautiful ones. As long as there is wifi, I am able to live.

As soon as I did, my CEO started travelling as well and would always thank me telling him that I inspired him to travel and work. In the last 2 months I’ve been in 5 countries and 10+ cities while working 50-60+ hours a week, splitting exploring the city in the morning, evening, and weekends most especially. 

As we are a fully remote org, me travelling around has allowed me to meet my colleagues I’ve never met. It’s such a refreshing feeling meeting people in their cities/countries and just being able to see each other in person. I love that the most.

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

Personally for me, I think work-life balance means being able to be a very productive professional whilst having the time to focus on personal goals and development (professional – I’m going to be taking my SHRM-CP soon, personal – I want to get my scuba diving certification soon and continue my pole dancing classes), your own health & wellness, while maintaining a social life and getting enough rest. (Admittedly, I haven’t been getting much sleep as I would like to but as long as it’s not a daily pattern, I am good to go)

I try to keep fit and eat healthy, meet a lot of people in the new places I go to and join expats groups in countries that I visit, as well as trying new things. It’s overwhelming most times but planning accordingly really helps a lot. I can’t live without my calendar.. Recently, we are trying this “No-Meetings Fridays” which helps a lot in making sure you have focus time.

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

I stopped drinking alcohol at some point last year or making it required as a part of any social gathering whatsoever (now I slowly do drink socially but not to a certain level) because if I wanted to wake up early, take care of my health and wellness, and be very productive at work, I can’t drink every night, regardless if it’s one glass, it affects your morning as soon as you wake up.

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

Highly recommend subscribing to newsletters regarding your field as well as joining Slack or Facebook Communities where you can meet like-minded individuals and be able to discuss different aspects that relate to your role (mine: diversity, equity, and inclusion, culture, hr-tech, legal-compliance, total-rewards-comp, etc.)

Highly recommend Radical Candor by Kim Scott. Feedback is so important within a team, and one of the most important things each people manager and even an IC should know is how to give good and actionable feedback, and doing it in a way that promotes a culture of recognition and belongingness.

I also really loved No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention (I think it was very important for my role) but it talks about how to build talent density, increasing candour, and how to not be too rigid with processes and just promoting openness, fairness, and trust within the organisation. I found it really helpful as we want to really build a culture of freedom, trust, and responsibility. 

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

My laptops. I cannot be as productive without it. I have two laptops, one iPad, and two phones. I bring all of them whenever I travel. An iPad is much more portable so I bring it sometimes during the weekend whenever I travel to somewhere where I know I wouldn’t need to work but just in case anything urgent comes in.

  • Work apps – Slack, Gmail, Notion
  • Social Apps – Instagram, WhatsApp
  • Travel Apps – Google maps, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor

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

Honestly, I’d like to read my CEO, Tim Zheng’s interview. Sometimes I ask myself how he does it, he’s always available, he’s always doing amazing work, and he’s just overall inspiring. I want to know the great CEO within.

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

I think it’s just really about prioritising. I know we don’t have a lot of the same flexibility and the same lifestyle, but just being able to give up a couple of things that won’t really contribute to your growth is super important and also surrounding yourself with people who share the same passion is a huge factor.

We aren’t always going to be comfortable, but we need to be uncomfortable to grow. So please continue travelling, continue exploring new places, exploring new cultures and investing time in your personal and professional growth. 

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About Author

Balance the Grind is a work-life balance publication on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.