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EP45: Elena Agaragimova, Head of Talent Acquisition and Development at Horizon Industries, Limited

Podcast Transcript

James Mackey  0:00  

Hello, and welcome to Talent Acquisition Trends & Strategy. Today we are joined by Elena Agaragimova. Elena, welcome to the show!


Elena Agaragimova  0:08  

Thank you. Good to be here.


James Mackey  0:09  

Yeah, we're really pumped to have you here as well. Thanks for joining us. And before we jump into it today, could you provide us with some background on your experience and what you're up to right now?


Elena Agaragimova  0:19  

Yeah, sure. So originally, I come from a background of higher education and learning and spent a few years in that. Got bored pretty quickly, because higher education takes its time in many ways. And I'm a person that needs results. So decided to shift towards corporate learning. 


Naturally, I feel I've dealt with the younger population, and now I'm ready to go for that experienced profile of a learner. So last few years, I've been doing that kind of transition towards the learning and development space. And in the recent couple of years, talent acquisition as well, I feel was just something that came naturally. In 2019, I also co-founded a small Ed-tech company where we're focused on performance and well-being in organizations. 


So that's been a great experience. Spent eight years of my life living abroad in the Middle East, have done this kind of work globally and recognized that a lot of the issues we're having as people and corporates are pretty global and standard across many different industries and nations.


James Mackey  1:20  

Love it, love it. Well, thanks for that background. One of the topics we discussed bringing up today is really learning and development and making learning the core part of a company's culture. I'd love to just get your thoughts on that high level, from a strategy perspective, and why that's so important. 


And then maybe we could dive into some tactics in terms of how start-ups and growth-stage companies can actually implement that and make it a core part of their culture and day-to-day.


Elena Agaragimova  1:45  

Sure. So as I mentioned, I started my career in that higher education space where I was on the flip side of how universities prepared students for future work. This has been a problem for years and years, but recently this gap between universities and corporates has grown so much that corporations are starting to realize that they cannot get away without having a proper learning and development structure in place. Because the likelihood is you're not going to have talent, walking through your door, ready to rock and roll. 

You're going to have to invest in them and develop them. And not only that, but furthermore, you also then have to continually develop them because the world of workers and businesses is moving faster than we can ever keep up with. So not only is it the responsibility of the individual to maintain their relevance in the workplace, but also an opportunity for companies to create that space for people to continue to learn. 


And from a pure business perspective, it is very costly to hire and fire and let go of people, to have people coming in and out. For talent acquisition folks, it takes a lot of energy to recruit a person, so a lot of resources and time goes into that. So one of the best ways to keep that person engaged, particularly for younger generations coming in, which I feel like as whole other types, but just the generational differences between what corporates were to what they are today. In terms of the profile of talent that we have, there's a huge, huge difference. 


So keeping that young talent engaged is part of the learning and development initiatives that every company must have. And I think it's becoming more and more obvious to CEOs and leadership. And the final point I'll mention here is that if you look at any report when it comes to the future of skills and talent - 2016, you will look at what the CEOs look for when it comes to the top skills they want their people to have. In 2016, the top 10 no matter which record you looked at, it's a lot of digital skills, a lot of information technology, a lot of those tech skills, and those computer skills. And maybe at the bottom, there might be two that are around soft skills like critical thinking and emotional intelligence. 


Report 2022. Now we see top skills or soft skills, emotional intelligence, people management, creativity, etc. And digital literacy is kind of taking the back seat because although those IT skills and cyber skills are still important, those soft skills are becoming even more important. And yet again, this is also part of learning and development strategies, how do we continue to develop the skills that our people have and so it's no longer just taking a certificate. It's a continuous, ongoing learning strategy that needs to be in place because soft skills are, unlike hard skills, an ongoing journey for everybody.


James Mackey  4:37  

Yeah, for sure. And I think, too, just in terms of hiring top talent. I think A players, the best people out there are typically going to be looking for opportunities where 20 to 30% of the job is doing something that they haven't done before, because why else are they going to accept the position if they're doing the exact same thing that they were doing in their prior role? So I think also from a talent acquisition perspective it gives companies an advantage. 


I think the challenge, and this is more for startups and growth stage companies is how you actually structure learning and development and how you make it a core part of the process and your business. And how much do you really need to invest financially in order to make it happen? Do you have any advice for companies that maybe are around the size of Horizon or where you're headed? I think it's around 300 people?


Elena Agaragimova  5:27  

Yeah, it's a global company. 300 people globally, a little bit over 100 US-based. And so absolutely, and this is a company that has never had Talent & Development, until a year and a half ago when I joined them. So number one step for anybody in this space is to have the buy-in of leadership. And so naturally, a company that is interested to invest in that needs to recognize that leadership buy-in has to be there. But with that being said, oftentimes even when the leadership buy-in is there, I think there needs to be a very clear discussion around what that really means to have their buy-in. 


This means a lot of times their time, their face time with their employees because they have to be carrying the values and behaviors that they want their employees to carry. It doesn't work otherwise, it's very difficult. It works, it will work, but it will work in little increments. If we want to truly embed in a company culture a learning and development culture it has to start from the top. So that's rule number one, make sure you have the buy-in, and make sure that whoever's managing the finances understands that it is an investment. 


However long term, there are numbers associated in terms of money value associated with having well-structured and well-executed learning and development initiatives. And again, we can get into that a little bit more. There are a lot of metrics around that these days. So that's step number 1. Step number 2 is really I think the big one for a lot of new companies, small companies. As a company grows, having a very solid foundation in terms of what we want to stand for? What are our values, and what is our mission? What kind of company we're trying to be, and then building around that culture.


This is one of the biggest challenges. And even in my own start-up, as we are growing, when you're a small team, you can kind of manage the culture, right? As you're growing, if it's not under control, in terms of people really, truly practicing the values and behavior that you stand for, it becomes messy, and then you become siloed. One department does another one doesn't somebody in one country doesn't. And what that does is it breaks people apart in terms of connectivity, so they don't feel like they're part of the team. And they might feel a little bit excluded. 


There's a loneliness aspect, especially if you're a remote company. And all of that is part of learning and development. I think that's another thing to recognize, that learning and development is not like training and learning and leadership. No, it is the culture of the company. It is your brand, the company brand, and how you are perceived by the market. Because nowadays, the young generation is coming in, the first thing they're going to do is Google your company, they're going to see what is your social media presence, and they're going to see how your website is outdated. Does it look like it is from the 80s? Or is it pretty up-to-date? 


So that's a part of it - learning and development is another part of it. So I think just those are the basics that I would recommend people to consider, which is often overlooked. And instead what people do is they just throw some training, they say - we're just going to train everybody to be a better manager. And we're gonna do it once a month. And then everybody's gonna be a great manager. And it doesn't work because soft skills required continuous microlearning, hands-on experience, continuous feedback, and improvements as it goes along. So I'll pause here.


James Mackey  8:50  

Yeah, in terms of soft skills, what I did particularly for our managers that are managing larger teams at SecureVision, we implemented an executive coach to come in and help particularly people moving up into leadership roles for the first time. And that's really given us a pretty good lift. 


When I initially started managing people, I hired an executive coach that really helped me be able to essentially communicate high standards and high empathy at the same time. Because you need both. You need to be able to lead with standards and performance if you're going to actually have a high-performing team, but you also need to be able to connect with people. That's one thing we did. 


Then from a learning and development perspective, not so much on the soft skill side, but we're also really into process playbooks. So for literally every part of our business, we have detailed step-by-step guides on how to do everything. When people are onboarded, they're going to go through our process playbooks. We have trainings scheduled for them, and our training is primarily video-based, and then they have follow-up conversations. They have a buddy when they start, but a lot of our L&D is really more so front-loaded into onboarding. 


And besides executive coaching for leaders, we don't really have much else in terms of L&D. Beyond just more so informal stuff such as somebody working on a new project. And basically what we do is companies borrow recruiters from us, right? So we're RPO. But that just means that we have embedded recruiters at our customers, so sometimes recruiters will be working on new roles for the first time or something like that. 


So there's training on tech recruiting, or training on revenue recruiting, or G&A roles. So we do little stuff like that. But it's not monthly we're doing like regimented kind of L&D training. So I'm just curious to get your thoughts, moving a little bit into tactics, what does this really look like for growth-stage organizations? Is it just one-on-ones with the managers? Or is it more official training on the department level? What do you think there?


Elena Agaragimova  11:05  

Sure, so a couple of points there. So on one side manager - having great managers that can have those conversations and build those relationships is definitely one of the most important aspects but before we even get to that, I feel like it should be kind of parallel. So one part of it is - what does the business need and where are the gaps in your current staff? Or where do you foresee might be a gap in the future or an obstacle based on the people you have, and the skills they have that is going to probably stop you from moving forward in your business? 


So I think just making sure that the business strategy is aligned with the skills that people have, and are you going to be able to maintain that competitive edge moving forward in whatever industry you're at.  Your people or your business, so you need to make sure that everybody's kind of up to up to par on that. On the other side - managers understanding the strengths of their people, and understanding areas where people need to improve. 


Particularly when working with younger teams, a lot of times they're not even sure what their gaps are. So I think that's the role that a manager should take on in this day and age, it's not just about getting people to get things done and do it effectively. It's how can you coach and mentor them to help them grow in their own careers and to get them to take accountability for their own growth. I don't think it's all on the managers, I think there are two folds here. 


And I always say this for individuals and companies - companies, you have a responsibility to create, to offer resources, and provide that training as needed but individuals also need to have their own kind of go-getter mentality. And the best way to influence this is to have managers and leadership that lead by example. So leadership that talks about things that they're doing in terms of continuous learning, a leadership that supports on-the-job learning, out-of-the-job learning. 


I'll give you an example. Many of the big companies give their team members time during a week or once a month to work on passion projects. It's more just to keep people curious and passionate and innovative. Because a lot of times out of those projects, people maintain their curiosity and motivation. So naturally, everybody benefits, even if they're not working on a particular company problem. 


So I think just creating that support system is important. Something else that companies have is called Future teams. And it depends on the size of your company and time allocated, but you can form 2 or 3 people that their pure job or maybe once a month, whatever makes sense, a timeline that makes sense - all they spend time is looking at possible threats that are coming your way. You're looking at emerging technology that might impact your interest, you're looking at the competition that's coming out, looking at future trends that your company and your team need to prepare for. So that way you tailor your learning and development that is preparing your company for that, those future trends and future impacts that might take place. 


James Mackey  14:22  

Yeah, I was just going to ask, what are your thoughts on somehow tying in L&D into performance management for leaders, and possibly even for individual contributors? I feel like the only way to get it done is to make it measurable. And if we're going to make it a core part of the culture, it should be something that's measured, and is expected in terms of accountability and in terms of - Hey, this is something that is important to us so X amount of time or X amount whatever metric it might be, needs to be hit on a quarterly basis, for instance, right?


Elena Agaragimova  14:56  

Yeah, I'm kind of on the fence with that one. It depends. If you're in a world of government contracting as the company I'm working with, it's very difficult to have people allocate specific numbers, let's say in a month, so they're limited in terms of time. So if people that are listening to this have those billable teams, it becomes challenging. 


Also, on the flip side, when you tend to put that kind of pressure on people, a lot of times I'll go - Ah, here we go, yet another training. So at the same time, I'm on the fence so on one side, like, I feel like I don't know if it's the best approach. But on the other side, there are people that simply unless you actually force it on them, they might not do it. 


In an ideal world what I think sells, and what I think works if again, done properly, but it's difficult to do, is if the learning culture is so embedded in the company culture, that employees are naturally ongoing learners. And again, that only works if everybody in the company practices this, especially leadership and management. So by default, people are going to be learners. And you can create, there are companies out there who hire and sustain high performers or only sustain certain people. Which is a different challenge, because not everybody can have those top performers. Not everybody can have that kind of culture. But there are people who were like - Listen, if you're not curious, and if you're not innovative, you don't have that intrapreneurship mindset, you're not going to make it in this company. 


That's one way. So I'm on the fence with that, I think that it is good to have metrics. Again, that's not how you motivate people. How you motivate people by leading by example and getting them excited, and how you get them excited as to try to align their personal goals with organizational goals. And naturally, if people are doing something they're passionate about, and they feel like they're adding value, they're going to be naturally curious and want to be the best that they can be. And by default, when you're at your best that you can be everybody benefits, including companies, etc. To tie into performance. Yeah, you can. 


But again, I think that it's not just about ticking the boxes, it's about having continuous conversations and check-ins with team members. So gone are the days obviously that we have two reviews a year, right? A lot of companies now are moving towards official check-ins throughout the year that is recorded in whatever system they use. And then in between that, they have regular check-ins with their team members, depending on the size of their team, depending on time, but maybe it's weekly checkpoints, aligning on short-term goals, and long-term goals for people, and keeping them accountable. 


I think that will go a long way versus putting an end. Let me also add that creating customized learning journeys for each person that are individual to what they want to learn that is aligned with company goals, is going to motivate people. And that works. It's something we do at Horizon. And we've implemented and it works we have a high attendance of people attending our sessions that are we what call "learning and development units", and they're not required. They're just encouraged. 


James Mackey  18:18  

I think it can also just be correlated to career tracking and progression within the company. So if somebody wants to move up and be promoted into a people manager role, or into a team lead capacity, or maybe even just to a senior level, individual contributor role. I kind of like the performance angle too, because then it's measurable and tangible like alright - what are you doing to further your skill sets and improve, whether that's, taking a course or just asking really engaging questions when you do your one-on-ones with your manager. 


I feel like some engagement, and initiative and these types of things can be tied into who's going to become eligible for certain promotion paths. Again, even if it's not tied to performance, leadership's obviously looking at that as one of the reasons why somebody would move up within the company. What are your thoughts on this buzzy term - quiet quitting, this idea of a lack of employee engagement? 


I don't know apparently, they're saying like, half of the workforce, particularly the younger generation is very disengaged with their jobs right now. I haven't really experienced that. And my team seems pretty engaged and doing quite well. But apparently, this is a big problem. Have you heard anything about this? And if so what are your thoughts on it?


Elena Agaragimova  19:44  

Yeah, I mean, I think it's just a trendy thing that's happening right now. There's a lot of trend around that. I don't see it as much either. But it's been happening so realistically I think it's just a trend that people started to talk about but if you look at any Gallup reports. I'm obsessed with reports in general, I read them for fun. And if you look at any report over the last several years  -Gallup report. Gallup for those that don't know, they do a lot of kind of workforce research and surveys and stuff like that globally. 


There really is a beautiful report every year called the Global employee engagement, something like that. And basically, they study hundreds of different companies that are top global companies, thousands of employees to understand their level of engagement. Pretty steadily over the last several years, the level of engagement - do you want to take a guess how many people are disengaged in a workplace? We're talking about multinationals, corporates, small to medium-sized to large companies, any guess how many of those are disengaged?


James Mackey  20:52  

From the articles I'm seeing, I think it's pretty high. But I don't know actually, I haven't done the research myself.


Elena Agaragimova  20:59  

Well, it's been over 75% of people disengaged, and this has been like this for a very long time. Over 74% of the global workforce is disengaged in their roles. So this quiet quitting is just highlighting that basically but that's been the case for a long time. And again, I think that's a whole other podcast because there are a lot of challenges with that. 


Part of it starts with our education system. And having spent a few years in higher education, I can tell you that a big reason that people go into jobs they don't like is because they spent four years or six years, or eight years studying degrees, spending a lot of money. And for better, or for worse, the only job they're going to get is based on what they studied or based on whatever job they could get. And then the reality hits, the bills hit, etc. So a different topic, but relevant to that. 


And so it's a whole system, it's not just like - oh, people are quite quitting, they've been doing that forever. They've been doing it for years. And part of that is because education and corporates don't speak to each other. Part of it is because we're not taught at a younger age and university level, even at an entry point of our career, that it's okay to change careers, it's okay to change your mind, that there's a lot more than you can do versus just pursuing whatever you study then, whatever you spend time on. 


And part of that is, I still put a heavy, heavy emphasis on the individual, because I think that as individuals, we have to take responsibility for how we are progressing and our careers and if you're not happy, and if you feel like you're not progressing, if your company is not giving you what you want, move on.  But a lot of people stay and for different reasons, some of those reasons are justifiable, because not everybody has the option to change careers. And people have responsibilities and bills to pay. But a big portion of these corporate employees has an opportunity to change. 


And a lot of times because they don't know how they don't know what's next, etc, and a lot of times this is where coaching comes in. I can spend hours on that topic alone but I think it's just a trend,


James Mackey  22:59  

I think they're saying like a lot of this is focused on Gen Z. And I think one thing we have to stop doing is to stop obsessing over the tenure of employees so much. This concept of job hopping - I just find to be very antiquated, there are very few positions where in order to have a return on an employee, they have to be there for 2 or 3 years. The reality is that there's way too much emphasis on tenure and not enough emphasis on learning, development, onboarding, training, and accelerating ramp. 


There should be much more emphasis on building processes around accelerating ramp so people can start to add value sooner. Because ultimately, people when they join a company, they're going to be more excited and passionate, they're gonna bring different perspectives to the table. And I don't see it as the worst thing in the world. If people leave after a year, to me, it's like talent acquisition systems should be built out to where they're able to consistently recruit positions at scale. 


We should be focused on helping people continue to grow in their careers so we can get the best-fit individuals on the team. And normalize the concept that it's okay for somebody not to want to be here forever, or for the long term. So I think that this concept of quiet quitting might also be from the perspective of people feeling like - Well, shoot, I can't move after one year because I did that in my last job. And now I have to be here two and a half years before I can move on to something else. And so they ultimately become disengaged. Wouldn't be much better for that person to move on and to get somebody new on the team that's excited to be there? I think that's part of it.


Elena Agaragimova  24:37  

For sure. Absenteeism costs a lot of money to companies. I don't know what that looks like, but a few thousand every year per employee that companies lose. Absenteeism is basically sitting in front of the computer, you're kind of checked in but you're actually checked out to not actually producing, you're there, and you're doing the bare minimum to not get fired. But again, it goes back to relationships with managers. 


It goes back to communicating, it goes back to having those strong connections with people. If I'm disengaged, I tell you - James, I'm completely checked out, you need to do something you need to help me, right? Or here's what I'm thinking, James, and here's how you can support me, can the company do this for me? How can I add more value? Right, etc. But again, it's a two-way conversation, people don't speak up and they expect things from companies. And it's not always the case. So taking accountability for their own career development. 


At the same time, like you said, it's okay if people want to move on. And another thing for companies, again, depending on the stage they're at, talent mobility - can you find something else for them to do? This happens a lot in the tech world, people will go into different tech, whether it's Appian, whether it's Salesforce, whether it's Python, and they get bored with the technology after two, three years, and if the company cannot provide them an opportunity to learn other tech and to implement that tech, they're going to leave. So as a company, can you provide an opportunity for them to do what they want to do internally, before they jump ship? 


James Mackey  26:01  

Right. But also I think it's a balancing act, right? Sometimes that's good. And then also sometimes, it's better to find the specialist, as opposed to training somebody up in a new function, to pull in an external person that comes to the table with that skill set. Again, the more experience I get, I'm moving away from obsessing about tenure and retention at all costs. I'm thinking more in terms of who's the best person for this role right now. And let's have candid conversations about what you want to do after working at SecureVision. 


It's okay, I don't have an expectation of loyalty, I have an expectation for us to be aligned, understand what performance looks like, and understand how I can help you achieve your goals in your career. Let's be transparent about that. But also, I understand that look, if you want to move up into a management position, or lead here, we can talk about that, and I can show you the path to make that happen. But if you want to use this as an opportunity to develop a certain skill set, and then move on, let's talk about that too, and see how we can make that happen. 


I really do think performance management is a big part of avoiding things like quiet quitting, right? There have to be clear expectations on what a role is accountable for. Of course, you want some people to go above and beyond, great because then these could be future leaders potentially within the company. But the reality is that it's just - Okay, you're being paid to do a thing, we should be very clear on what that thing is. And if they're doing it, well, we don't necessarily need them to go above and beyond. We just need them to hit the core metrics of their position. I think it's really that simple. 


I think a lot of companies just don't set clear expectations with employees on what success looks like. I think that's a huge issue. If we companies are better at that, then you wouldn't have this quiet quitting thing, because you would know very well if people are doing what they need to do or they're not. And there's always going to be a percentage of people that go above and beyond. Great. 


Those people know who they are, encourage them, and give them raises quickly. And make sure you spend more time with them career pathing and making sure they get what they need. I think it should be done that way. And I think that maybe that's why I'm not seeing that problem at SecureVision. But yeah, I just think a lot of companies get this wrong, all I'm saying.


Elena Agaragimova  28:26  

No, you're spot on. Absolutely. I think expectations are high. Also, I know I'm gonna sound a lot older than I am. I'm not that old. But I feel like we've become a little bit soft. And so it's almost like sometimes managers are afraid to tell their people they need to work a little bit harder and hit metrics because then we go into the whole well-being piece. And it's like you're actually just asking them to do their job. And they cannot fulfill that. So but now, there's also a lot of trend around that.


And I think we have to be very careful to distinguish between what does it mean to just do your job and do it well, and do it effectively as you were hired to do? Versus hitting burnout, we don't want people to hit burnout. But we also don't want people to take it easy and do the bare minimum. So expectations I think are very, very important. So you're spot on with that.


James Mackey  29:19  

I think too, it's like everybody has been talking about emotional intelligence for the last several years and I think people need to see the full picture. Empathy is important but so are standards, and so is accountability. And just because empathy and emotional intelligence are important, doesn't mean that accountability isn't.


I think you're right, the conversation has shifted so far around the concept of work-life balance, work-life integration, these types of things that I think in some environments there's almost this fear to focus on accountability. And you have to be careful, and this comes down to getting the right executive coaching and making sure leadership understands how to communicate both of these things at the same time, we need a culture that thrives on accountability. Everybody needs to be accountable and clear expectations need to be set, right? 


There has to be a kind of standard in terms of the work product produced. We need to be transparent and communicate feedback, these types of things. And you're right, I think that there quite honestly, is a bit of an accountability problem that we're seeing out there. And in some cases, and I think everybody has a choice, right? How much do you want to put into your career based on who you want to become? There's no right or wrong. 


You can invest a lot of your career, and you can invest a little bit, but the reality is that inputs lead to certain outputs. And if you want a certain output, you need to make sure that the work that you're putting in is aligned with that. And the only way to really achieve what you want to do, and take it to the next level is a high level of personal accountability when it comes to learning and development when it comes to hitting the core metrics for your role. 


I think the best high-performing cultures, they're able to strike that balance, and they're able to attract talent that is aligned with that. That's aligned with that philosophy of accountability alongside empathy. And they've figured out how to communicate that as a leadership team. I feel that's so critically important.


Elena Agaragimova  31:35  

Something that I say that people don't like, I say if you really want to grow in your career, that means you probably have to devote time outside of working hours and on weekends to do what you need to do to grow. Otherwise, you're just like everybody else. And again, like you said, it's a choice. But if you make that choice, and don't expect X, Y, and Z, then expect what you're going to get because that's how competitive it is. And again, it's just a choice. But the reality is that it's just taking ownership. And I say a lot of careers die at mid-level because everybody can get to mid-level, it's easy to get to mid-level. To get to that senior level, different ballgame, different approach. The same approach doesn't work, and you're not just going to float up upwards. So it doesn't work that way.


James Mackey  32:19  

And that's okay. You know, it's not a priority. That's totally okay. It's just that you have to be realistic with what you're putting in. In my case my career is incredibly important to me, it's probably a more significant part of my identity than maybe it should be. But during COVID to keep my company, because as a hiring company, we got hammered in the middle of COVID. I was running talent acquisition for three companies while running my own company. I was working from 7 am to 10 pm, we had a newborn at home. I mean it was brutal. But it was important to me, and that's now why we are where we are, we're scaling the company successfully. 


That's a big part of it because you do what you have to do, and it needs to be aligned with the goals and the outcomes that you want. My case is kind of extreme because I wanted to scale and own a company, but I think it's again, you have to know what is input required for the outcome you want to achieve. And in the short term, it might be less in people's control, right? 


For example, if you're working hard for 6 months, and you don't get what you want, that doesn't mean that it's not working. It's about massive action, constantly iterating and being consistent over a long period of time. And if you do that, then you're going to be very successful in your career. It's not something that, you can just - work really hard for 3 months. It takes years and years to develop the skill sets and the experience and the reputation and everything that you need to move up in your career.


Elena Agaragimova  33:59  

Now, consistency is key. Consistency versus intensity. And I bet you that you probably very much enjoy what you do, which is why it makes it slightly easier, although you're still human, it's slightly easier for you to put in the long hours because you enjoy what you do. And I think that's what a lot of people are missing. And that's a whole other conversation but when you enjoy what you do, when it gives you energy, even if you are tired at the end of the day, you have that purpose. And that's what drives you. I think that my wish for everybody is that they find that for themselves.


James Mackey  34:37  

I hope they do too. And I have a lot of empathy for people that don't have that. The reality of the world though, is sometimes you have to start with the roles that you don't feel, that you have to deliver on those types of positions to then get in. And that's a very sensitive topic in 2022 because not everybody agrees with that. It certainly wasn't my life experience I had to take a role, I was in an SDR role, 100 cold calls a day, three in-person meetings, and really high quotas, it sucked. But again, it's a starting point. 


So I think when you want to move up, you have to be willing to understand - Hey, I'm playing the long game, I need to be patient. I need to understand there are certain steps here. And where I'm starting is not necessarily where I'm going to end up. But this is a natural progression in that you have to start somewhere. I think just having realistic expectations surrounding that is just really important for people as well. 


Elena Agaragimova  35:28  

Yeah, absolutely. 


James Mackey  35:29  

Yeah. Well, anyways, this was a ton of fun. I think this is probably a good stopping point for us. And so Elena, I just wanted to say thank you so much for joining us today on the show. And I really appreciate your insights and what you brought to the table today. Thank you. 


Elena Agaragimova  35:43  

Thank you, I enjoyed it! 


James Mackey  35:44  

 Yeah, for sure. And by the way, if people want to engage with you, what's the best way for them to engage with you online or to reach out?


Elena Agaragimova  35:52  

Sure. So I'm mostly active on LinkedIn so you can find me on LinkedIn. It's Elena Agara, my profile will come up. My actual name is Agaragimova. Maybe you just drop it in the notes for this episode, so they don't have to search for it. But LinkedIn is probably the best. That's where I hang out the most.


James Mackey  36:11  

I love it. Sounds good. And for everybody tuning in. Thank you so much for joining us and we'll talk to you next time. Take care!

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