Head of Community, Recruitment Open Community
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?
I think my absolute favourite time was when we held elections for head of the family. Sounds weird right? Well it was! For weeks my little sister, my mum and I would cover the kitchen wall with fresh editions of our personal newspapers and then we added campaign posters to this as well. The funniest part was when my older sister’s friends showed up, they must have thought we’re all nuts!
2. What seemed like an inconsequential decision at the time, but in hindsight turned out to fundamentally reshape your life?
I think the most relevant one was taking an internship with a recruitment company. I never really applied, a friend just asked if I wanted to do it. I was hired because I could speak English – that was literally all that was required. I turned out to be quite good at the tasks I was assigned but of course I didn’t really care much as I knew my destiny was not to be a recruiter, but rather to translate poetry. Turns out that it’s very rare to get hired as a poetry translator… so here I am 😉
3. What habit or behaviour or belief have you recently acquired? Why is it now in your life?
I have spent a lot of time complaining how dirty London is. I don’t even understand how it’s possible to produce this much rubbish, let alone why no one seems to care it’s everywhere around. A couple of weeks ago I promised myself to stop complaining. Instead, I decided, I’ll just take a bin bag with me and if my favourite park is covered in rubbish, I’ll just clean it up. This has now become part of my morning routine. I go to parks for a walk and I clean.
4. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
It’s a science fiction book about facing another civilization. I thought it’d be good for me to read a book from a Chinese author for a bit of diversity. I honestly cannot imagine anyone over here coming up with this story!
The King, by Szczepan Twardoch
This one is a book by a Polish author who seems fascinated with Poland before and during WWII. I loved how he was able to describe our society back then. That’s back when Poland was still a very diverse country and the author managed to describe what they must have felt towards the country. The rising conflict between different nationalities and groups within the country is described in a way that makes you wonder about the current state of affairs.
Catch-22, by Joseph Heller
There are books that we all know of so well it doesn’t even occur to us we could actually read them. For me, Catch-22 was one of those books. I finally got to it when I was in self isolation back in March. All I can remember is I kept giggling all the way through…
5. What’s one misconception people generally have about you?
Most people assume I’m an extrovert because of all the events I go to. But very often I’ll just be hiding in a corner somewhere, checking my Twitter feed. I’m not great in a crowd and as much as I enjoy conferences, they can be quite draining. So I try to make sure I get a day or two to myself after an event. Although that hasn’t been a big issue recently…
6. What personality trait has got you in the most trouble? What kind of trouble does it get you in?
I used to be quite insolent when I didn’t feel I was treated fairly. For example, when I was 13 I was learning French at school. Our teacher had to go on sick leave and she was replaced with another one. The new teacher showed up and on her very first day, tried to ask me some questions. Apparently, trying to be polite but firm, I explained that it’s her job to teach me things before she asks any questions… This is why I had to learn French. My mum said “if you’re going to be insolent, at least do it in the right language” and by the end of the year, both my French and my relationship with the teacher were much better.
“My mum said ‘if you’re going to be insolent, at least do it in the right language’
7. On what topic would you never make a joke?
When I was going back to Poland in the beginning of the year, someone at the airport said “oh come on, cheer up, you look like someone died”. I was going to my grandma’s funeral… I promised myself never to say this to anyone.
8. When was the last time you felt like an outsider in a group? What/How did you learn?
I always feel like an outsider 😉 But I remember one particular time when I was a part of a recruitment community that made me feel like I wasn’t welcome sharing my thoughts. I decided to set up my own community back then and make sure everyone feels welcome, no matter what their beliefs are. I think it worked out, there’s over 4.5 thousand people now in the community I set up and my favourite feedback is when people say they feel safe sharing in there, knowing they’ll get help and not judgement.
9. What is your most prized possession? What’s the story behind it?
I try not to get too attached to things, but my health tracker is something I feel very strongly about. It’s one of those smart jewelry pieces and it’s actually in the photo I use everywhere. It really helps with a hectic lifestyle – if I’m stressed, I’ll know it’s because I need more sleep, activity or meditation – but it’s just as useful now that I’m not travelling as much. It just keeps my focus on my wellbeing and that’s always a good thing.
10. Cheese or Chocolate?
For over 25 years I was convinced I’m allergic to chocolate, which is why I get to have both now! This taught me a very important lesson: as long as I’m going to have chocolate, it should be Lindt. And if I’m having cheese it’s Comte or Roquefort. No point in wasting my calories on second class snacks 😉
11. If you were to survive the zombie apocalypse, what role would you play in the new society that would follow?
“Thanks to” the covid situation, I’ve recently acquired some great skills when it comes to growing potatoes. So far it’s unclear whether I can keep any other plants alive, but I’m sure growing potatoes would keep me busy.
12. If you could invite any three people – living or dead – to your final dinner party before the end of the world, who would they be and why?
I’d invite two of my favourite Polish science fiction writers, Stanisław Lem (author of Solaris) and Janusz Zajdel (whose work was somehow never translated into English) and my mum. We’d have the best conversation about books, I bet! It’s my mum who taught me to love reading, especially Lem and I often have these conversations with her, but having the authors there would make it quite special.
13. What's a skill that isn’t on your resume, but your former bosses would recognize as one of the reasons you are successful?
I honestly don’t suppose any of my former bosses would agree with the premise that I am successful 😉 I rubbed most people the wrong way and even when I hit all my targets, my bosses weren’t usually impressed.
14. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?
Pretty much every decision up until setting my own company. I like to say my professional history isn’t so much a career as a series of disasters. There were some good moments, there was plenty for me to learn, but I became very skeptical of employers. I don’t believe any of them made the decision to hire me in a responsible way and so I can’t imagine trusting a company like that again. Never say never, but I’ve become very scared of commitment in my professional life.
15. Who was the best person you ever hired? Why were they so good?
The Virtual Assistant that I worked with before the pandemic (and hopefully I’ll get to work with again). I admired her ability to anticipate my needs, but most of all, she was happy to make her own decisions and take responsibility for them. One time she called me and she informed me of how she was going to handle some situation that came up. I remember thinking “no that’s not what I’d do…” and then quickly realizing there’s no point in hiring someone if I’m going to have to make all the decisions. Which is surprising because I’ve got a real problem delegating tasks.
16. Who is the best co-worker or collaborator you’ve ever worked with?
I don’t know about the past, but I work closely with Karolina Latus these days and I think it’s going very well. We both have our own companies, but we also make a great team. Karolina helps me focus on delivering tasks on time when I get carried off with my long term visions. She’s very practical and business minded and those are not necessarily my strengths.
17. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?
Bias in hiring. I don’t think there’s enough will to do it. People will rationalize their decision somehow instead of even admitting we have a problem. I still hope we can minimize it though.
18. What changes to our industry would you like to see post-Covid19? What changes do you think we will see?
I’d like to see more transparency, but I’m afraid it’s the exact opposite of what we’re seeing. So many businesses are pretending to be thriving even though it’s perfectly ok to admit the crisis hit them too.
19. Do you have a secret tip, tool or trick that’s contributed to your success?
It’s not much of a secret, I think, but I like trying things on my own. I think it helped me learn a lot of really useful skills that I never suspected would come in handy. For example, I started blogging in my first job which helped me learn how to build a simple website. This was possibly the most important thing I learned both for running my own business and sourcing. It’s so much easier to understand sourcing when you understand more or less how a website is built.
20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?
I’m very curious how Karen Azulai would answer these questions 😊
Thank you to Kasia Tang for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Contact Kasia for top class Recruiting & Sourcing Training