Being a Professional Assistant is a career path I have chosen since my late teens and I have worked hard to successfully climb the ladder in a number of fantastic roles gaining experiences across a variety of industries including technology start-up, public sector, private HNW, hospitality and the motor industry - this is where it all began when I was successful in my first senior level Personal Assistant role on a Maternity Cover contract in 2012. Since then, my career has continued to grow from strength to strength and my knowledge and personal development has enhanced as the role continues to evolve. With such a passion for the role, I have always promoted, assisted and advised others on the same journey.
A particular career highlight for me was spending one year at The Savoy as Personal Assistant to the Executive Chef. Being in an environment where dreams are made, guests ranged from high profile individuals, celebrities and those who had saved up for that once in a lifetime luxury experience. Assisting all of the guests and working with the inspirational team was very special and I felt honored to be part of it. Customer satisfaction has always been a driver and motivation for me, this includes my Executive(s), colleagues, stakeholders and customers.
The idea of creating the 'Suffolk PA Network' has always been a personal goal due to the lack of local support I experienced myself. When I was trying to start my career as an Assistant, I did not have enough experience but it was that vicious circle of how do you get experience if you nobody opens that door for you. Training and development opportunities were also very limited and old fashioned with only Secretarial or Audio-typist type courses available. I ended up completing a Secretary course but have never worked as a Secretary because I had more to offer as an effective Assistant to my Executive. Everywhere I worked, if there was a PA, I would ask them for advice or an opportunity to shadow them, I would also be the first to volunteer to assist in any tasks across an organisation to gain different experiences and build wider relationships. I have been lucky enough to work alongside some inspirational Assistant's who I have learnt a lot from and I would like these opportunities to be available more easily across Suffolk moving forward. When I started working in local government, I met Katie and Josephine who shared the same feelings and passion as me. We started by organising a regular internal Suffolk Public Sector network which included regular catch ups and development opportunities. Our dream was to have a Suffolk wide network to bring Assistant's together to support each other, develop skills and drive our profession forward together..... and here we are today doing just that!
An experienced Executive Assistant with a strong history of working in local government, from the start of my career I have always strived to further develop and shape the role of the Professional Assistant from the archaic secretarial beginnings that we are still so often still viewed as, and referred too.
I am truly passionate about my role, and have enjoyed working in local government for eight years – currently supporting the Leader and Chief Executive at West Suffolk Council. A varied and wide workload, in an extremely busy and interesting sector (especially during such unprecedented times), I thoroughly enjoy the work that I get involved in and the responsibilities that I hold.
I have a keen interest in mentoring and leadership qualities, alongside the role of the Professional Assistant in the space of management. I have managed two PA Apprentices within my organisation – who completed Business Administration apprenticeships which were specifically moulded to the role of the Assistant. I am extremely proud of both of my former apprentices and their achievements, of which one is now a PA to the Directors at our authority, and my second apprentice (who I also mentored) was recently awarded the East of England Regional Joint Council Apprentice of the Year 2020. This really showcases’ that our industry is an excellent career for young professionals, with highly transferable knowledge, skills and behaviours.
I met both Kimberley and Josephine within their roles at a partner authority, and similarly we shared the desire to create a platform for Suffolk Professional Assistants who, like us, are looking for the support in our industry, development opportunities and a network of professionals – especially with the sparse opportunities sometimes available to EA and PAs. After we took part in an external lacklustre training session specifically aimed at Executive Assistants, we realised we needed to do something ourselves.
I have been lucky enough in my current role to be well supported within the organisation and within my evolving role, and it would be fantastic to be an ambassador for further Assistants locally.
A little bit about me. I have around 17 years of experience within administration, 11 of which at Professional/Executive level in both public and private sector. From a large international business to a small business of five employees. I genuinely love my job, even on those days when I could throw my computer and phone out of the window. My entry to the world of Professional/Executive Assistant has been a gradual development. I have climbed the administrative ladder so to speak, starting out as an administrative assistant/secretary to my current role as an Executive Assistant.
Every job that I have had, has defined my career as to where I am now. For me the most important ‘skills’ for an EA/PA are flexibility and gaining respect/trust. Not one for hierarchy and believe that everyone deserves to be treated with respect. Every single employee contributes to the success of an organisation. Believe in concentrating on peoples strengths and not their weaknesses. Great believer in learning from mistakes as well as owning your mistakes! Love learning and never want to stop.
Outside of work a favourite pastime is travel (less now with COVID and climate change). Love a good sunrise and sunset. South Africa had the most spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Sitting by a fire toasting marshmallows with a night sky full stars, hearing lions roar in the distance, is possibly one of my favourite memories. Oh, mustn’t forget coffee and cake, really love coffee and cake.
How did I become involved with the Suffolk PA/EA network?
I met Kimberley (founder of Suffolk PA/EA network) and Katie via my role current at Suffolk County Council. Initially it started with a mutual interest in wanting to create a support network for PA/EAs within the Suffolk Public sector, it has since developed, with determination from Kimberley. Kimberley and Katie have a vision and a passion for wanting the role of PA/EAs to be seen as not the stereotyped role of people who coordinate diaries, make coffee/tea and perhaps do some typing every now again. Something that I too am passionate about. The landscape for PA/EAs is evolving and we need to evolve with it, show support and encourage one another. So, when Kimberley contacted me to ask if I wanted to be involved in developing the network, I jumped at the chance.