Meet Elena Stefanopol, Director of Recruiting at Labelbox:

Elena Stefanopol is the Director of Recruiting at Labelbox, a tech startup focused on remote work solutions. With over a decade of experience in recruiting, Elena has worked with various companies ranging from small startups to well-known organizations like Airbnb. Originally from Romania, she has embarked on a journey that took her to different parts of the world, including London, San Francisco, Austin, and Denver. Elena’s passion for remote work began at a young age, envisioning a future where individuals could work from the comfort of their homes. The COVID-19 pandemic further solidified her belief in the viability and benefits of remote work. She seized the opportunity to explore her personal and professional aspirations by embarking on a year-long journey through South America while continuing her work with Labelbox, an experience she describes as “absolutely amazing.”

Now back from her travels, Elena finds herself in a fulfilling role at Labelbox, where she has found her place professionally. She is enthusiastic about the evolving landscape of remote work, particularly in the tech industry, and looks forward to contributing to this new chapter. With her extensive recruiting background and firsthand experience as a remote work advocate, Elena brings valuable insights and perspectives to the discussion on the future of work.

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Quick Read: Elena Stefanopol, Director of Recruiting at Labelbox, Interview Highlights

How has remote work evolved over the years, and what changes have you observed in the global hiring landscape?

Elena explains that remote work has evolved differently for different companies, with some embracing fully remote work while others prefer an office-based approach. She emphasizes the advantages of remote work, such as accessing a larger talent pool and tapping into talent worldwide. Elena mentions that Labelbox is fully remote and highlights the benefits of remote teams, including access to global talent and achieving 24/7 coverage without implementing night shifts.

What advantages have you observed in having a fully distributed team, especially after companies return to on-site work?

Elena discusses Labelbox’s decision to remain a remote company even after the COVID-19 pandemic. She explains that while in-person connection is essential, Labelbox doesn’t make it a requirement for work. The company balances remote work with in-person events such as company planning meetings and pieces of training. Elena mentions that being fully remote allows access to talented individuals worldwide and enables 24/7 coverage without implementing night shifts.

Do you have any criteria or considerations when hiring from different countries?

Elena explains that Labelbox initially took an exploratory approach to international hiring. They focused on finding talent globally and didn’t have strict criteria based on country. The main consideration was ensuring time zone compatibility and logistical feasibility. Labelbox has identified London and Poland as hubs forming due to the presence of larger teams, but they continue to explore other locations based on talent availability.

Are there any differences in your talent acquisition strategy between the U.S. and Europe?

Elena mentions that candidates have become more sophisticated globally due to the increased adoption of remote work. However, she notes that there are cultural differences to consider. For example, the interest in equity as part of the compensation package may vary. Elena emphasizes Labelbox’s focus on finding the right talent regardless of location and ensuring a structured interview process to assess skills and fit for the role.

What hiring approach does Labelbox use for international hires, such as contractors or Employers of Record services?

Elena explains that Labelbox initially hires international candidates on a contracting basis. However, they treat contractors and full-time employees equally regarding the Labelbox experience. When a critical mass is reached in a specific location, Labelbox considers incorporating entities and transitioning contractors to full-time employees. The approach is based on operational and logistical considerations.

How do you decide which vacancies should be international hires and which should be limited to the U.S.?

Elena states that the decision depends on the hiring team’s ability to accommodate different time zones. The main consideration is ensuring enough overlap for effective collaboration. Labelbox aims to support the employment experience of all team members and avoids hiring in locations where managing the time zone difference may be challenging due to the team’s composition.

Have you hired individuals from Latin American countries, considering their proximity to the U.S. time zone?

Elena mentions that Labelbox has hired individuals from South American countries like Paraguay, Argentina, and potentially Brazil. While the time zone proximity is favorable, Labelbox has succeeded more in the European market. The reasons for this difference are still being explored.

Have you noticed any cultural or work ethic differences while working internationally?

Elena emphasizes Labelbox’s transparent and intense work culture and the importance of being honest about the company’s pace and expectations. While acknowledging cultural differences, Elena highlights the self-selection aspect, allowing candidates to decide if Labelbox’s work culture aligns with their own aspirations and work ethic. She advises being aware of cultural differences, being curious, and avoiding assumptions.

What advice do you have for tech leaders or executives considering global hiring?

Elena offers three key pieces of advice. First, have clarity in scoping roles and understanding specific hiring needs. Second, consider cultural differences and adapt interview processes accordingly to ensure inclusivity. Finally, be curious, avoid making assumptions, and maintain a nice and inclusive approach throughout the hiring process.