Balancing the Grind with Tom Cornell, Head of Assessments, APAC at HireVue

Tom Cornell is the Head of Assessment, APAC at HireVue, where he specialises in the development and delivery of HireVue platform’s interview and game-based assessments.

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

I work at HireVue, as the Head of Assessments in APAC. HireVue is an online video interviewing software and pre-employment assessment platform. It uses organisational psychology to help businesses find the best talent faster.

I relocated to Sydney from London in October 2019 to support our customers as we expand the use of HireVue across the region.

Being close to the business, I also provide subject-matter expertise to support the sale, scope and implementation of our interview and game-based assessment solutions across the Asia Pacific.

Before this I was a consultant at two talent strategy consultancies in London, they were The Chemistry Group and MindX.

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

I work across multiple time zones in APAC and the US, but I’m quite disciplined about not engaging with email and messages first thing in the morning.

Instead, I always try and hold time for myself and my first coffee of the day, after which I’ll check my emails and Slack messages to see if there’s anything urgent that I need to jump on regarding inbounds coming from the US.

After around ten in the morning, where the US teams start to bump off, the APAC region has my undivided attention. My clients span across Singapore, China, Australia and Japan, so it’s really important for me to block out time in the morning for any local meetings that might arise.

As I have a few hours of downtime in the middle of the day, I make a conscious effort to get some exercise, before logging back on later in the afternoon.

I guess having that flexibility is the beauty of working across multiple time zones. There are definite challenges when time zones overlap, but at the end of the day, it’s about being organised and setting yourself up in the morning for the day ahead.

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

I know COVID-19 has shaken things up for a lot of businesses and their way of working, but being part of a global company like HireVue has given me opportunities to be flexible with when, how and where I work. In fact, I’ve been working remotely for a while now so I’m very used to this.

Due to the flux of when I’m needed across different time zones, I have the flexibility to take a break in the afternoon to go for a walk on the beach or listen to a podcast or some music. Having come from London, I also can’t resist a quick dip in the ocean when the weather is good, before getting ready to jump on my next meeting if need be.

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

The idea of work-life-balance is always interesting to me. I love the debate around this concept, and if balanced is really the right term to use. When we say ‘work-life balance’, it does tend to suggest we put more weight on one than the other. But it isn’t always the case.

One’s personal life is typically more abstract and might feed into different things like fitness goals, wanting to travel and see certain things, or if we’ve got a family or children, it becomes about the experience we plan with them.

Regardless of the goals, we should be conscious if we’re not meeting them. It’s all a balancing act, discovering what we’re really putting a value on, understanding what’s important to us and what we value outside of work.

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

I’m from London, so since moving to Sydney, I’ve been setting myself up with good habits or lifestyle choices rather than routine. I love putting more time into my intrinsic values, focusing on the little things I enjoy such as going on a walk on the beach in the sun.

I also take a leisurely walk to the shops to grab lunch every day. I take a long route past my local laundry where I’m greeted by one of the patron’s dogs, which I love having grown up with dogs and having none of my own. It’s a tiny moment, but it’s something that I enjoy and brings me joy every day.

Of course, I’ve also taken up some new hobbies during COVID like honing in on enhancing my technical skills to develop within my role at HireVue. I’ve also taken a deep dive (excuse the pun) into scuba and freediving. In summer I’m looking forward to getting down to the beach and exploring in warmer seas.

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

Podcasts I’m currently loving:

  • Science 4 Hire, hosted by Dr Charles Handler
  • The Ricky Gervais Show, hosted by Ricky Gervais

Books I’m reading:

  • Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
  • The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

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

The new Smart Apnea dive computer which I use for diving. It helps me track my goals and progress, monitoring dive time, water temperature, descent and ascent speeds.

With all this advancement in tech, I’ve also invested in shark monitoring apps such as Dorsal and Shark Smart which keep me posted on any suspected sighting. Being from the UK, I’ve never seen a shark in the wild and don’t plan to any time soon.

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

The pandemic has impacted the way in which society works and interacts. I have seen a lot of colleagues and clients that have been incredibly challenged, leading to them playing multiple roles in their working lives, all while looking after their families.

It would be fascinating to hear how everyday Aussies have been able to balance the challenges and obstacles this pandemic has thrown at them.

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

There are two things I would like to highlight.

Particularly with younger generations, I find there’s always a sense that they’ve always got to really push themselves to be on top. Other times there’s a real push for ambition, drive, constant self-improvement, self-help and development.

I really think that should be taken into context and people need to learn to detach themselves from these high standards and remember it’s OK to take time for yourself to unwind.

Secondly, I think it’s important to remember to hold yourself accountable for your own personal goals and work-life balance.

While there will always be someone, either a colleague or manager, holding you accountable to achieving your work goals, it’s you who’s responsible for hitting your personal goals, and you who will look back and reminisce on the experiences lived and those missed.

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This conversation is brought to you by Think Bespoke, providing LinkedIn training for individuals and organisations in Melbourne and Sydney.

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.