Interview with Gaya Saghatelyan

Gaya Saghatelyan1. Could you please introduce you? 

My name is Gaya Saghatelyan (LinkedIn), I’m a Project Manager on the Localization team at HubSpot. Our team helps bring the HubSpot experience to international non-English speaking markets. My focus is twofold:

  1. Work cross-functionally with different teams at HubSpot to identify content localization opportunities to serve non-English speaking customers. 
  2. Collaborate with local subject matter experts to establish scalable localization processes that contribute to international growth.

2. How did you started working remotely? 

I started working remotely full time in May 2018 when I joined HubSpot. At my previous job, I had a very long commute and worked remotely about 40% of the time.

I became more and more interested in finding a remote work opportunity, because the commute was draining and I wanted more flexibility with regard to where I lived. Most good jobs are concentrated in large cities, but I simply didn’t want to move to an overcrowded, expensive city.

When I was first interviewing for my current position, I considered moving to Massachusetts for the role, but I was hesitant to move away from California where all my family was. Early on in the interview process, my Manager proposed the option to hire me remotely, as it would add coverage to the Japan time zone (there’s about 2-3 hours overlap between California and Japan), where we traditionally had limited coverage since most of our Project Managers were based in Massachusetts. Knowing that I wouldn’t have to move definitely took the hesitation out of the decision-making process.

In my first month, I travelled to our HQ in Massachusetts for new hire training. It was an immersive experience where I learned about HubSpot and met my new colleagues. Not long after new hire training, I was lucky enough to also travel to Dublin, our EMEA HQ, where we had our annual team offsite.

This is when I got to meet the rest of the team in person. I think having these opportunities at the beginning of my time at HubSpot made for a smooth transition and allowed me to integrate well. I still often travel to our various offices to meet with my colleagues. I recently relocated to Hamburg, Germany, where I also work remotely, so I’m much closer to all the people I work with.

3. What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?

The biggest advantage for me is flexibility. I can structure my day more freely and experiment with different work environments to see where I feel most productive.

Some days, I start the day with early meetings with my colleagues in Tokyo, some days I have later meetings with Massachusetts. This is especially important to my work, because I have stakeholders across multiple time zones and I feel more relaxed when I don’t have to worry about commuting into an office to have an early morning meeting with Tokyo.

4. Have you experienced any disadvantages due to your remote work setting? 

Gaya Working Remotely at HubspotRemote work definitely requires a conscious effort, especially in the beginning. When you’re remote, it’s not as easy to just go over to a colleague’s desk to ask a question and you miss out on a lot of team lunches. However, there are ways to make up for these shortcomings.

I always make it a point to get involved in as many initiatives as possible, so that I can get the opportunity to work with people I don’t normally work with. I think getting involved and being proactive is an important way to stay engaged and develop your career.

Since starting to work remotely, I’ve felt my communication skills improve and I’ve gone beyond my comfort zone. For instance, I probably wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with Japan if it weren’t for the fact that I was hired out of California.

I learned so much in the year that I’ve worked with my colleagues and I feel grateful for the opportunity.

What also helps me a lot is that fact that HubSpot culture is inclusive of global and remote employees. I feel there’s a pretty universal empathy and understanding for the challenges faced by our global and remote employees. People are conscious of basic things like time zone differences and try to include everyone in decisions.

I also feel extremely fortunate that HubSpot allows us to travel to our offices quite frequently. It really helps to have these opportunities to meet with colleagues and to see things in the bigger picture.

5. From what cities or countries have you worked since you have started to work remotely? 

When I first started working remotely at HubSpot, I was based in Monterey, California. I’ve since relocated to Hamburg, Germany. It had been my long-time goal to rejoin my partner in Hamburg and I’m so happy that it’s finally a reality! Other than that, I have worked from various cities in California, Europe and in the coming months I plan to travel to Armenia to visit my grandparents and work from there!

I try to take advantage of the workplace flexibility to do little things like working from our garden at home or from the pier when I used to live in Monterey. 🙂

6. From what type of place do you prefer to work? 

I mainly prefer to work from home, but occasionally I go down to the garden or to a coffee shop.

7. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in remote work?

I would say they’re probably losing out on a tremendous talent pool. The traditional arguments against remote work are no longer valid:

  1. The technology and infrastructure are there, this should no longer be the limitation.
  2. If you hire people you inherently trust to do their best work, working remotely should not be a limitation. From my experience, having a remote work culture builds stronger teams. People become more considerate and empathetic of different work styles, there’s more diversity in the workplace and it just makes business sense.

8. What tools do you use to work remotely? 

We use Slack, email and Zoom quite heavily across the entire organization. Our team also uses JIRA for keeping track of projects and documenting information for the entire team.

9. How do you manage your payments and taxes as a remote working professional/business?

I’m paid as a regular German employee.

10. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies making the remote switch?

  • For employees: Try to get to know yourself and your work habits. Try to take initiative and build connections with the people you work with.
  • For companies: If you’re going to embrace remote work, do it at all levels of the company, don’t create an ambiguous feeling about remote work, you’re either for it or against it. It’s clear that remote work may not be suited for all roles, but make it clear to employees where the company stands on the topic, otherwise it just creates frustration.
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