We had the good fortune of connecting with Anna Bakunts and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Anna, how does your business help the community?
HR Lab was found when I saw the need to utilize my diverse knowledge and experience in supporting both businesses and employees. From the business perspective, we are a Human Resources (HR) focused consulting and advisory firm. From the employee perspective, we are a training and professional development hub. Our aPHR Academy trains, educates, and prepares entry-level HR professionals to enter the business world. Our goal is to develop diverse and inclusive HR professionals through HR apprenticeships. The world would greatly benefit from a more skilled workforce and more knowledgeable business owners.

It all started in 2020 when one of my projects asked me to lay off over 30 employees at the beginning of the pandemic. These employees were people I interviewed, onboarded, trained, attended company parties, and supported for many years. It was heartbreaking, yet I had no power over it. That’s when it hit me. I wanted to make a change. I knew having your business is hard work, and yet I was working hard already. Challenges don’t scare me. They make me think harder and allow me to grow. So I decided to create a company where I could empower others instead of weighing them down. My dream company would work together to develop a solution so people’s wages would suffer to a minimum. I wanted my employees to feel valued and cared for—full transparency during unprecedented times.

Our Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) aims to become a Small Giant and contribute to society endlessly and proactively. The work started, and it is still going. We are constantly growing, learning, and striving to be kind, compassionate, and supportive towards each other.

Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
In this constantly globalizing world, after the pandemic has become more digitized and universal, there are no borders among cultures and countries, people, and communication. My team and I strive to break the traditional, hardened ways of face-to-face work with fixed hours with teammates of different ethnicities, cultures, and time zones. We are as flexible as possible, never letting the distance and different time zones be obstacles on our way to bringing a growth mindset to the modern-day business world.

With our example, we try to be a source of education for people, showing how much intercultural communication matters, especially in the business world. One of our greatest missions is teaching them to have cultural sensitivity and awareness, consider each other’s differences as uniqueness and respect their personalities. Imagine how productive and innovative the work can be with different approaches possessed by people of different cultural backgrounds and mentalities! We want to become a linking bridge in this diversity. By unifying the world around the same idea, we can pursue our goals. We strive to empower, educate, and train a more skilled workforce. That’s what sets us apart from the rest.

Becoming business-wise is a challenging and never-ending journey. It started with my undergraduate degree in economics, followed by a travel abroad program in Cambridge, a master’s in business administration, and certification as Senior Professional in Human Resources. This was the easier part. The harder part has been working and applying the acquired theory knowledge to federally qualified health centers, specialized pharmacies, restaurants, hotels, and so many other businesses.

The main lesson I have learned so far comes from not being business-wise but from training for a marathon. Having hated running all my life, I trained consistently for six months and finished a marathon. That taught me that the impossible is nothing if you are willing to put the work into it even when you don’t want to, even when you don’t feel like it. Even when it’s raining and even when you don’t have 7-8 hours of sleep.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is amazing with its diversity, so my friend lucked out. If they want somewhere fun and outdoors to eat, I would recommend Sloane’s Valley Village. I would also make sure they taste the midnight hot dog stand in the middle of Hollywood. If they love hikes, I will take them to Amir’s Garden at Griffith Park. I would take them to the Getty to get cultured, and then I would take them to explore Venice to get even more cultured. I would also take them to all places that are non-touristy, like my home for a home-cooked meal or just the beach for a good time. Possibilities are endless for this in LA.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We are shaped into our present selves because of the people we’ve met throughout our life and the experiences we’ve had, both good and bad. I want to dedicate my shoutout to my one-of-a-kind team, my mentors, my family, and my “anti-mentors.” My team is intelligent, compassionate, caring, and authentic. Everyone is so unique in their skill set, and yet they are always open to learning more. They never hold on to what they know and are always ready to share and support one another. They cover tasks for each other. They complement each other. They learn from each other. We have established a culture of trust and vulnerability (there is a different word for this).

Next in line are my mentors. My past and current mentors have been incredible. Being industry leaders in their respectable fields, they’ve shared and taught me skills and best practices that I apply daily. They teach me what they know, they believe in me, and they guide me. What more could I ask for? To be able to make a difference just like they did for me.

My parents have invested in me from day one. I was taking tutoring classes in so many subjects from six years old. They wanted me to be well versed in almost everything, and at the same time, they never forced me to finish piano school when I told them that I felt like my piano teacher was not fair and all-inclusive. They have given me room to grow as an individual while still guiding me along the way. My little sister, well, she always keeps me in check. You will hear her say, “I don’t like it when you put your hair in a bun all the time.” You will also hear her say, “I did something that I thought you would like…” and that makes me want to be a good example. A huge shoutout to my significant other and my partner-in-crime. He empowers me, he believes in me, and he has my back. He is my home and he is the balance in my work-life balance equation.

Last, I would like to give a ginormous shoutout to my anti-mentors. These are the people that have taught me what not to do as a professional. How not to talk to people, how not to make people cry, how not to approach your employees so they quit on you, how not to promise something you cannot deliver, and so much more.

Website: www.hrlablosangeles.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hrlablosangeles/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/hrlablosangeles/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/hrlab_LA

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hrlablosangeles

Image Credits
Marianna Arutyunyan from Zoomandframe

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutLA is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.