1. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hey! My name is Tea Žagar. I’m a "fresh" psychologist, always curious and with versatile interests, also a hobby-singer who just recently jumped into HR world, started learning, digging it more deeply - and enjoying it! Besides that, I’m into mental health awareness topics and volunteering, cultural diversity, traveling (erasmus+ projects, I’m looking at you) and connecting with people. In Bamboo Lab, I’m working as the HR Assistant (as one of my colleagues said, I’m “the one that sends surveys”).
2. How did you first learn about Bamboo Lab?
It was at the Inspire Me conference held in Osijek in 2017, which me and my colleagues from psychology attended. And while having to choose which lectures at the conference we could attend due to our crowded Uni schedule, we somehow randomly decided to also attend a workshop that Boris Rauš held, my current CEO and colleague. :) There, he presented Bamboo Lab and talked about creativity, how to find your own path to happiness and success (as far as I remember), and we found his way of presenting refreshing, as well as the story of Bamboo. After that, Bamboo Lab has been at the back of my mind (and social media) as I knew it existed, as well as Boris, but who would think back then that I would work there in 5 years! Crazy. Now I find it amusing that I have a few photos from that day - “the day I first found out about my future employer”, haha. :) Only later I found out that Iva, our COO, also presented at that conference as well, a video from that exists and it’s worth checking out.
3. How long have you worked at Bamboo Lab?
This month, it's officially a year of working here full-time, but since I started in late 2020 as a student, I could say that I’ve been actively involved with Bamboo for nearly a year and a half.
4. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.
Besides being in love with music and all its variety, I’m also an art sucker - since childhood I’ve loved crafting, sketching and painting, exploring different techniques, styles, and generally, creating things with my hands. So, the latest craft-hobby I’ve been expressing myself through is textile painting and I could say that that and singing are my forms of meditation. I also love exploring artsy profiles and creative businesses for inspiration.
5. Three words to describe Bamboo lab?
Creative, inspiring, enjoyable.
6. What does your job look like?
Considering that I’m in a position that didn’t exist before in Bamboo and that it’s still developing - that’s a hard question! I’m still learning and exploring a lot, picking up information from many sides, places and people, so few phrases that could sum everything up are “learning by doing” and “starting from scratch” (and yes, I googled “starting HR department from scratch” a lot). As the HR function is greatly defined by the needs of the business in which it operates, I’m observing a lot, asking many questions, seeking feedback and doing research, gathering and organizing all the information to see how we can use them, collaborating on projects and ideas with others, mediating communication. As we’re still a small company, I have the opportunity to scratch the surface of many HR processes, some of them not existing (or partly existing) so I’m involved in defining, creating, and implementing new ones. That includes areas like learning and development, people and culture, administration, compliance, standardization and systematization of processes, recruitment and selection, office management… So, bits of many different things - it’s dynamic and never boring, and often feels like Bamboo is an open platform where I can express my ideas, try out things and take action. :)
7. Let’s jump to some lighter questions. What do you love to do in your spare time?
I mentioned a few things already - I sing in a local band (Nešvil Funk) and an acapella group (Akvarel), which takes up quite some of my spare time. Also, I love to explore new bands and artists, going to gigs, concerts… A good series or a movie is always a good idea (my latest binge was Afterlife by Ricky Gervais). I also enjoy hiking, taking walks and random road trips with my friends... Trying out new food and drinks (both cooking and eating out) is also something I’m always excited to do, and travelling, of course - is a great love. Or, just casually catching up with friends and family, over a beer, playing board games or jamming. :)
8. What book did you read last?
Ugh, lately I’ve been very bad at reading and I have a bad habit of starting multiple books at once, and not finishing them. But the last book I binge read was Powerful: Building a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility by Patty McCord, who helped create the unique and high-performing culture at Netflix, where she was chief talent officer. Cool and innovative book with different viewpoints and ideas, compared to some other, more traditional HR and management literature. This book will definitely shift your thinking and perspective a bit.
9. What do you like most about your job?
As I’ve mentioned, it often seems like my job is still “under construction”, new things emerging day by day, which I find cool - I could say I definitely have an experience of job crafting. It gives me opportunities to learn, explore, try out, connect and collaborate with others, and it’s challenging me to be creative and innovative - and I like that.
10. What advice do you have for prospective Bamboo Lab candidates?
Stay open, stay curious and collect experiences - even if they’re not actual work experience or related to the position you’re aiming for. You can still create, explore, volunteer, and learn. All of it will pay off eventually. Also, make connections - networking is great! Find experienced people in positions you desire and ask them for guidance, listen to their stories - don’t be afraid to ask for help. Nowadays, information and resources to learn from are more available than ever - so some guidance and experience from others can be very helpful.
10. Tell us more about your favorite project.
It’s a project which is not directly work-related, but if I didn’t start working in Bamboo Lab, I would've never found out about it. Just a few months after my start in Bamboo, I applied for a mentoring program, a project led by HR kutak, a platform with the aim of connecting HR enthusiasts, and sharing knowledge and information. That way I got a mentor for 6 months who helped me a lot in managing my new role (structuring my ideas, giving feedback on my work, providing support), with whom I’ve stayed in touch and became friends. That mentorship and networking with other mentors and mentees was a great experience and meant so much to me - it felt like someone was patting me on the shoulder, at the time I was still adjusting to my new role and was confused by loads of information. I also learned so much from listening to more experienced colleagues who were always willing to talk, share and answer my questions. And now, just recently, I became an active member of HR kutak - so, new cool projects to come! :)
11. What is the favorite part about working at Bamboo Lab?
The people working in it - Bamboo somehow connected really unique, capable, creative, and hardworking people, with a good sense of humor, music, and food. :) Also, I really appreciate the flexibility we have in our work, which gives me a lot of freedom and makes life so much easier.
12. What is an ability you wish you had?
Ability to speak and understand as many languages as possible. That would be so cool. Also - teleportation (already imagining myself escaping from winter in a minute, to warmer, sunny places).
13. What is on your bucket list?
Traveling to and exploring other continents and cultures (well, the list that includes traveling would be too long if I started with it). Picking back up piano playing. Flying in a balloon. Mastering a new language and speaking it fluently. Learning many things actually - to dance, to sew wearable pieces, to use Illustrator, to do a headstand,... And so on.
14. Any random facts you could share with us?
Research has shown that when we think through decisions in a foreign language, we make more rational decisions as the emotion is being taken out of our thoughts, which helps us focus more. Based on that, thinking in a foreign language leads to better, less biased work decisions as well. Interesting!
15. Do you have a favorite newspaper, blog?
Not really, but I discover new blogs I like often, many times based on current interests or needs. Often I come back to Quora or Reddit for all kinds of random topics, SHRM and Harvard Business Review are great for business and HR-related topics (also, Kat on coffee, Handbook | GitLab - not really a blog, but full of useful content and ideas, Talentlyft…). Psychology-wise, I adore Nepopularna psihologija - the crew behind it is doing a great job, check them out!
16. Best vacation you’ve been to?
Hard to choose the best one, but let’s go with this one which was pretty special. It wasn’t a typical vacation as it was a 10-day Erasmus+ project in Tortona (Italy) in September 2019, which I found out about and got accepted very last-minute. There were more than 50 of us there from more than 10 countries, and it was really mind-blowing how so many of us connected in just 10 days. It was super creative, very emotional and totally out of my comfort zone. We learned about innovative street art methods and its principles - so, besides the training and workshops in clowning, juggling and musical theater with professionals, we've had rehearsals and have been actively involved in their 5th local ST.ART festival, which is a big event on which we were performers, with some of the professional street artists (our mentors). That was very exciting and fun! So, it really was a full experience and pure, childish happiness. :)
17. If your house was burning down, What is the one nonliving thing you would save?
Let’s be real - I would grab one big bag/backpack (...filled with my laptop, phone, a few sentimental things and random things I would probably just throw in running around).
18. What is your personal philosophy?
Again, it’s hard to choose one. Let me just say - Everybody's Free To Wear Sunscreen. Sums up pretty much everything. :)
19. What is something you always wanted to do but never did?
If I don’t count my first three years, I never did, but I would like to live somewhere abroad for a while and experience living in a different culture. Or at the seaside, at one point in my life. Also, I would like to volunteer somewhere abroad and try out Workaway.