Tamara Maria Morge Quintela is the People & Experience Specialist at TOQIO, a company that has developed a fintech-as-a-service platform for financial and non-financial organisations.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I started my career in London, UK, in hotel management. I had the chance to work for some of the top luxury hotels in London such as the Rosewood, in Holborn. Here I worked as Guest Relations Manager, where I was responsible for the Front of House team as well as the VIP stays.
I was then offered the opportunity to move to Madrid as Front of House Manager for the pre-opening of a 5 star hotel in the heart of the city. Whilst I absolutely loved my career within hotels, it was very consuming and offered zero work-life balance, hence why I decided to take my chances and use my interpersonal skills to jump into the start-up world, specifically within the HR department.
I started working for a Fintech as HR Manager, which brings me to my current role within TOQIO, as People Operations. I’ve fallen in love with the company culture and everything it has to offer – so I won’t be changing any time soon!
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
Being part of a fast-growing start-up, my days can range from recruiting (screening, interviewing etc) to onboardings, through to training and working on personal projects. It sounds a little hectic – but to be honest that’s what I love about it!
I’ll give you an example of a “normal” day for me. I usually start work at 08:00am CET. I use the first hour to clean up my emails. I then like to check in with the team, usually through slack, see how everyone’s doing – I enjoy having regular contact with them, making sure everyone is happy is my speciality! Attend various meetings, interviews.
I also always try to spend some time on personal projects – I’m currently working on a training strategy for the company. Lunch, I never miss lunch! Afternoons tend to be for working on whatever has come up throughout the day, or anything that I have outstanding. It’s a kind of all-in position right now, so I dabble in anything and everything!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
It does indeed! TOQIO is a remote friendly company – we have what we call a 80%-20% policy. This means that we can do up to 80% of our work remotely, and 20% at the office – which is essentially one day a week.
However, we can organise our time as we please. I live in Madrid therefore I do usually go to the office once a week as I enjoy seeing the team in person and socialising a little bit! But those who live in other cities of Spain may not come for a month, and then spend a whole week at the office and so on.
Flexibility is super important at TOQIO, whilst we do follow a certain schedule (with the possibility to start one hour earlier to finish one hour earlier), full trust is put in us as part of the team and as long as we communicate with our fellow colleagues should something come up and we need to leave, there is never any issue at all.
This for me is a complete change from hotels – I now have the possibility to actually plan my personal life knowing I do not have to work outside of my working hours. Being able to work remotely has also been a huge advantage – I’ve been able to move to the outskirts, knowing I don’t have to travel every day to the centre, I can have lunch in my garden with dogs. Basically do all the things that bring me mental peace.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance, to me, means not waking up on Monday dreading going to work because I have had the chance to fully disconnect outside of my working hours.
Whilst it’s most definitely still a work in progress – I can say that I’ve almost achieved that goal. Digital disconnection at TOQIO is another important point – I finish on time (the majority of days!) and once my laptop is off, it stays off. This has given me the opportunity to enjoy the afternoon, cooking, reading, listening to music, and walking my dogs. I have endless time to be able to disconnect mentally and start the next day fully refreshed.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
I’ve started an AM & PM skincare routine – believe it or not, those 10 minutes nurturing my skin are now sacred to me.
There’s something about waking up and washing your face that makes you start the day off in a whole different mood – and it also helps you rest better at night. It may not sound like much, but I swear by it and recommend it to anyone who doesn’t already do it. Seeing the brightness and glow in my face is also pretty awesome!
I’ve also picked up writing again – I’ve been writing since a very young age, and with the work restraints I’ve had previously I was always too exhausted to even think about writing when my shift was over. However now, I finally have the time to write even if it’s a little, either in the mornings or in the afternoons – which is something that brings me a lot of joy!
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I suffer from anxiety – and listening to “The Anxiety Shut-In Hour” made me feel normal – it’s a homegrown podcast which unfortunately is no longer in production, but I know a lot of people out there suffer with anxiety and there’s still a huge stigma around it – if you’re reading this and can relate, check this podcast out! I also love Mr Feels: A Mental Health Podcast.
In regards to books, “Surrounded by idiots” by Thomas Erikson and “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman are two of my favourites – I’m a bit of a behavioural science enthusiast!
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
Yes – My Thermomix (Kitchen robot). This has literally changed my life! I love eating good, varied, healthy food, but unfortunately I’m not a very gifted cook. Since I got the Thermomix, I have been cooking (well, the robot cooks!) dishes 100% from scratch, with all natural ingredients, from all over the world – including bread, pizza base, and list goes on. I can’t remember my life before it!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Brian Chesky – CEO of Airbnb! I think he’s the epitome of work-Life balance!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Don’t ever let work become your life! Always take time out of your day to look after yourself – as cliché as it sounds – you only live once!
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