Anastasia Pshegodskaya

Sourcing Manager, Gitlab

1. Do you remember a time when you were happiest as a child? Where were you, who were you with and what were you doing?

It’s really hard for me to choose a particular moment, even though I think that my childhood was the happiest time of my life. The scene that springs to my mind is when my preschool teacher asked me about the date of my birthday. I believe I was about 5 years old back then and children at that age are supposed to know a bunch of things, like colors, numbers, and – the date they were born. Long story short, I had no idea when my birthday was and the shock I gave to the teacher by not knowing this simple thing could’ve been only compared to the shock I got from the fact that people don’t generally know when my birthday is and need to ask me for that information. That being said, whenever I remember this story, I realize that I was raised in an atmosphere of ultimate love, absolute attention, and unconditional support. I don’t know whether every person can say about themselves that they were the happiest child in the world but I can do this without a doubt, thanks to my family. And I strongly believe that the love and care I received as a child has shaped me into the person I am today.

2. What seemed like an inconsequential decision at the time, but in hindsight turned out to fundamentally reshape your life?

Great question and again, I don’t have a short answer to it! I think the major turning point in my life was my decision to change high school that I made out of boredom at the age of 16. What I got in return were the best teachers, sleepless nights of studying, and great but competitive classmates. All these 3 factors coincided and resulted in me winning All-Russia Olympiad in Social Sciences, which, in its turn, gave me an opportunity to enter the top Russian university (MSU) without any tuition fees. I was blown away by the chance to study at number one university and had no intention to lower the bar, so I picked a faculty with the highest competition and unintentionally chose my specialty – Human Resources Management – just because it sounded fancy (BTW, I still think so). And here I am today enjoying my career in the Recruiting world, having graduated with honors from the top university and pursued the career path I had studied for. Just imagine – none of this would’ve happened if I hadn’t made that decision being just a teenager.

3. When was the last time you changed your mind about something really important? What was it and what led you to change your view?

Just recently I realized that at some point in life you might actually want to have kids. I guess it just comes with age and depends on the person you’re with.

4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling (let’s count all 7 as one), War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, The Goldfinch by Donna Tart.

There are so many “why-s” but just to name a few: 1) these books are gripping and are a pleasure to read; 2) they show the whole variety of people’s characters and I would even say that the character types described there are exhaustive enough to describe every person you might meet; 3) these books can encourage and heal, give hope and show opportunities, teach you without judging, the list goes on and on.

5. If you wrote a ‘user manual’ for how people should interact with you, what would be the most important point in the manual?

If you have an important message – keep it short. I’m not a fan of long explanations as it usually takes me a few moments to understand the idea and I can easily become bored or annoyed otherwise. If I don’t get it – I’ll be very straightforward and ask questions, just give me a chance to do it before going into too many unnecessary details.

6. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?

I think my smile might be extremely misleading. In general, I smile all the time and people tend to think that I’m a very outgoing, open, and positive person. While this is partly true, I should admit that smiling is my natural reaction not only to good things but it’s also my coping mechanism: I smile even more when I’m nervous. I might even smile when I am angry (which makes me look really cruel). You can also see my “sad”, “tired” and a lot of other smiles.

7. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?

I went to a ceramics class in the middle of a workday during my last vacation. While I feel that I belong to this creative community, I realized how different my lifestyle is from the majority of the group members (mind you, this gathering happened in the middle of a working day). The things I learned ranged from types of clay, enamel, ovens to ad-hoc tips on a healthy lifestyle, relationships, raising kids, you name it.

8. What do you think is acceptable today but will become taboo tomorrow?

I do hope that people will stop using their phones to make calls. Even if it doesn’t happen in the foreseeable future, I’ll keep evangelizing this change by not picking up my phone unless it’s my mom or food delivery.

9. What’s the last image on your camera roll? Can you explain?

Not surprised it’s food, I’m such a foodie and food has become the only form of entertainment for me during the lockdown.

10. Cheese or Chocolate?

Chocolate! One piece in the morning and one piece with my 5 o’clock coffee – that’s the minimum requirement to keep me going.

11. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what would it look like?

It would be a small cozy place where you come and a bartender knows your preferences or can walk you through a bar card and make you an ideal cocktail based on a few questions. And of course we will have all sorts of flips there, starting from Porto Flip – I have no idea why so many bars nowadays ignore these amazing cocktails.

12. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathising with most? Why?

Cruella de Vil – she definitely has her style.

13. What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve ever received?

One of my former managers once told me that the main responsibility of a manager is to make other people shine. Such a simple message but such a huge eye-opener for me. I hope that my performance and the way I work with my team have lived up to his standards.

14. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?

Speed? I hate missing deadlines. That’s why I usually do everything a lot in advance and try to work as fast as I can even if I am not asked to do so.

15. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?

Being emotionless. Is it considered a bad quality?

16. What hiring heuristic do you generally go with?

As Dumbledore said, “age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth”. I try to look for potential not for years of experience in fancy companies.

17. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?

I don’t think that Recruiters will be ever fully replaced by AI. Unless you think and act like a machine, a machine is not a substitute for you – this is something we all need to focus on if we want to secure our spot under the sun.

18. What changes to our industry would you like to see post-Covid19? What changes do you think we will see?

I hope that our industry realizes that: 1) you can make great hires remotely; 2) you can truly benefit from remote distributed recruiting teams and their expertise; 3) working remotely doesn’t make you more or less productive as a Recruiter or Sourcer – if you were unproductive and unprofessional before, nothing will change it; if you are a rockstar – you’ll keep rocking regardless.

19. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?

Let the opportunity find you and don’t make rushed career decisions when you feel desperate, underwhelmed or fed up with your current place. I had my fair share of weird interviews and offers I declined after applying and whenever I think about them, I thank myself for not settling for that. Ironically enough, all the roles I took on throughout my career found me without me taking the first step.

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Iris Ma – I think she has a lot to share.

Thank you to Anastasia Pshegodskaya for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune

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