Exceptional EA

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A thought for your day, with my good wishes …

Day Nine: 12 Days of Real Careers

It’s Day Nine of this series, in which I’m bringing you excerpts from some more of my Real Careers interviews.

If you’re wanting to put this year to rest with some thoughtful perspectives on the career, check out all 12 days in this series.

Today, we’re looking at more Real Careers interview excerpts from around the globe. Here we go!

Don’t take yourself so seriously

Nicole Blanchettehails from Fort St. John, Canada, and now lives in Edmonton. What advice would have been helpful in the early days of her career? “Don’t take yourself so seriously, it’s not as bad as it may seem … and take the time to build relationships / networks.”

In her interview, Nicole highlighted the importance of focused development. “Education and professional development have played a critical role in where I have been, where I am, and where I am going. Lifelong learning is definitely at the top of my priority list.”

Proactively prepare for performance reviews

Craig Bryson was born in Buluwayo, Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa. He now lives in Central London. I asked Craig for his most effective time management strategy. His response? “I use a spreadsheet, divided in four segments – Extremely Urgent, Urgent, Less Urgent, and Not Urgent. Then, the deadline dates to help me stick to my time.”

Craig also identified strategies to promote career growth. “Record and monitor your work, so that when you have your performance appraisals (360), you can easily confirm what you do from day to day. There are a lot of free online courses that you can take to better yourself,  and this will show how you’re productive, enthusiastic and willing to give your all.”

Increasingly, we will need to be familiar with data security practices and procedures and think in a security conscious manner

Amy Marsden is from the North West of England, but made a move to London before her recent leap to New Zealand. I asked Amy to discuss the pace of change in this career. Her thoughts? “Change is certainly fast and furious in the admin. world. Technology is constantly changing, new features are added to existing programs, and we are expected to not only keep up, but also use technology in innovative ways. I try to embrace change, and never fear something new. The best way to learn is to learn by doing, and as such I tackle new software head on.”

Amy also offered pragmatic advice for those who seek advancement. “Seek out all the free resources you have within the PA/EA community: magazines, forums, Twitter, etc. Start picking up extra work, get involved in projects, or act as proactively as possible, before putting together a business case for taking on more work or increased responsibility. Demonstrate where you can add value before you ask for the recognition formally.”

Create a network of like-minded, career driven, and supportive individuals

Catherine Marshall is from Tucson, Arizona, and now lives in Marathon, Wisconsin in the USA.  She discussed the importance of being your own advocate. During her interview, I asked Catherine to describe the impact of professional associations in her career development.

Catherine said, “I am going on my fourth year as a member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals, or IAAP. The organisation as a whole offers many opportunities for quality education, training, networking, and volunteer / leadership opportunities. Being part of the association, I was able to create a rather large network of supportive administrative professionals.They all helped me to get involved, and pushed me to step up when I was just starting out. Ann Dahlke was really my biggest supporter and mentor; she helped me grow and develop in the association more than I thought I ever would. The association helped me create a clear career path that I wanted to follow, and opened doors to new opportunities I had never even thought of.”

Don’t promise what you can’t achieve or deliver

Helen Rees  grew up in Reading, England and lives in Hampshire, in a village a few miles from both Southampton and Winchester. I asked her to describe her time management strategies. “ Plan ahead. Look through your day at the start and identify hot spots, potential conflicts and potential moments of calm. Don’t keep checking email all the time; make specific time slots where you tackle emails so that you can get your other work done.”

Helen added, “Don’t promise what you can’t achieve or deliver – if you are asked to take on a task, people would usually prefer an honest answer that gives a realistic timescale for completion (or reasons why it’s not possible) than for you to say yes and then not be able to deliver.”

Your attitude will determine your altitude

Teri Wells lives in Roodekrans, a suburb west of Johannesburg, South Africa. In her interview, Teri recommended always having a can do attitude. She said, “I know it is an old cliché, but your attitude will determine your altitude.”

Teri also advocated for speaking up for yourself. “I used to always say ‘yes’ and it almost brought me to my knees with exhaustion and frustration at never being on top of everything. I tendered my resignation (about 10 years in to my 21 year service) because I felt I was drowning. My bosses were mortified and immediately offered all and any assistance I needed. It was then that I realised that I had to speak up.”

Obstacles

A thought for your day, with my good wishes …

Day Eight: 12 Days of Real Careers

It’s Day Eight of this series, in which I’m bringing you excerpts from some more of my Real Careers interviews.

If you’re wanting to put this year to rest with some thoughtful perspectives on the career, check out all 12 days in this series.

Today, we’re looking at more Real Careers interview excerpts from around the globe. Here we go!

 

 Your future job may look different from your past and current jobs, so think forward

Angela Downey lives in Manchester, England. I asked for her views on the impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Her response? “It’s a culture change, but AI is another tool in the box to complement your role and it can be embraced. The assistant needs to adapt and rethink how to use these new skills. Your future job may look different from your past and current jobs, so think forward; adapt and integrate these technologies.”

Angela discussed ideas for those seeking promotion, but these comments also apply to to adapting to this evolving career. “Look ahead – what are the skills you need to grow?  Use training needs analysis to establish what you need and when, rather than irrelevant training – be specific. Give to others: give your time, your knowledge, and your support; the rewards are endless.”

Angela expanded on the importance of networks and looking to the future. “Network; talk to people in the profession and learn their top tips and how they do the job. Read Victoria Darragh’s blog (www.epaa.org.uk/) article, Where do we go from here? It poses pertinent questions, as it discusses shaping the role of the assistant as the business manager. Victoria suggests attending non-PA network events, as this will take you outside of the traditional role.”

 

Prepare ahead for performance appraisals: regularly update your CV or a separate document with your accomplishments

Susan Henderson was born in Brixton, South West London and has lived in Surrey, England since her teen years. I asked Susan about career progression, and she recommended, “Ensure you have a career plan and work on developing this with your boss to ensure your growth.  Know your worth and value yourself. Join online groups/networks via LinkedIn or pa-assist.com, and subscribe to magazines such as PA Life, Executive PA or Executive Secretary with Lucy Brazier.”

Susan added, “Definitely get on social media (there is a whole community out there who will support you) and enhance your networking skills. Always show willingness to attend appropriate training and keep your IT skills up to date – there are always new tricks to learn.”

“Update your CV regularly with your accomplishments, or keep a separate document which you can refer to at appraisal time. If you do not keep a note, you are likely to forget something crucial which could cost you a promotion or a salary increase. Ask your firm to support your career development and invest in your training.”

 

I see challenges as opportunities, as they provide me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and rise to the challenge

Jennifer Robson is originally from Bangladesh, and has lived in Melbourne, Australia for years now. In her interview, Jennifer discussed four of her mentors – and how they’ve impacted her life and her career. Her parents were her first mentors: “They provided me encouragement and support and always encouraged me to not be afraid to step out and take on challenges.”

Jennifer also discussed the influence of her next two mentors. She noted, “It is important to have a mentor as s/he can provide a simple path of guidance to push you to take the first step, and guidance to figure out what is what we really want. A good mentor will share their invaluable experience, to help us to achieve our goal in the best possible way they know. I know I have personally benefitted from having various mentors along the journey.”

 

On saying no: Please do not allow other peoples’ priorities to take precedence over your own

Debbi Shaffer recently moved from Washington, DC to Florida. Knowing that many admin. professionals have difficulty with saying “no”, I asked Debbi to discuss her experience. She said, “I struggled for a long time with saying NO. I think many assistants have trouble saying no. I’ve learned the hard way it is okay to say NO. Not too long ago I over-committed myself to the point that I was on the brink of a breakdown.

I wasn’t taking care of myself or nurturing the relationships that are most important to me, because I was busy saying YES to everyone. Please do not allow other peoples’ priorities to take precedence over your own.”

 

I thrive on change, and see it as another challenge to overcome and to master

Shirwyn Weber lives in Cape Town, South Africa. In his interview, Shirwyn discussed his openness to change. “Digital innovation over the last few years has been fast and furious. This has come at a price for many admins, as keeping up with technology can be a bit daunting.  People are starting to adapt more easily now, with the advent of smart phones and tablets. I thrive on change, and see it as another challenge to overcome and to master.”

I asked Shirwyn to talk about the steps he takes when he realises he needs to move beyond his comfort zone. His answer? “… I always start planning the move. I never go unprepared beyond my comfort zone. I will then execute and do my best to make it a positive experience.”

When I asked Shirwyn if he had any role models or mentors, he identified Adam Fidler. “He has real world experiences that he bases his training and information on; he has researched the role and put together real world examples and tips. I have always looked to him for advice, and he is always willing to share and assist.”

Woven

A thought for your day, with my good wishes …

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