We’re on a December roll! This is the third year of my 12 Days of Real Careers tradition, in which we look back on the many Real Careers interviews I’ve conducted with high performing assistants from around the globe.
It’s impossible to capture the full extent of insights from multiple achievers in a series of posts, and so my project list includes a book containing Real Careers insights that you can turn to whenever you’re seeking inspiration or hard-nosed advice.
Even then, I hope you’ll continue to enjoy this annual 12 Days series. Think of these interview excerpt as gifts of experience and wisdom that we can all incorporate.
To read my full interview with any of these individuals, just click on her or his name below. If you’re just catching up on this annual celebration of insights and fellow assistants, have a look at Friday’s post to learn more.
“It’s essential to futureproof our roles by keeping up with technology”
Beth Arzy, USA and England (interview to be published in early 2020): “I don’t fear AI or think it’s going to be the bitter end for Assistants. I think it can only be positive and help us with certain aspects of our roles, to free us up to be more creative and forward thinking. Smart technology for smart Assistants. I read somewhere recently that ’empowered machines will act as smart Assistants for US’, which is how I like to look at it.
… It’s essential to futureproof our roles by keeping up with technology, which seems daunting as everything’s moving at top speed! We also need to keep up with the networking, even if it’s something that’s out of my personal comfort zone …”
“Know your worth and value yourself”
Susan Henderson, England: “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.
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.”
“Read the reports and presentations that are sent to your executive and be able to understand the information. If there is something you don’t understand – ask someone.”
MistiLynn Lokken, USA: “ Read the reports and presentations that are sent to your executive and be able to understand the information. If there is something you don’t understand – ask someone. Most importantly, take ownership of your development and don’t wait for someone to hand you an opportunity. Never stop networking!
… I have had the honor of several mentors throughout my career, including a manager early on who took me under her wing and changed my life. Bridgette saw more in me than I saw in myself and invested time in my development over the course of several years. I am a better person today thanks to her, and have committed to paying it forward by mentoring others.”
“If your company won’t invest in you, then invest in yourself”
Kelly McAulay, Scotland: “Make time for training and learning – ask for the opportunities and, if your company won’t invest in you, then invest in yourself.
Just as importantly, network like your life depends on it! By networking, you build contacts and relationships, and are able to keep up to date with the industry – there are often many free learning opportunities to support your professional development.”
” I like being in charge of my career”
Renée Neverson, USA: “I was determined to succeed and learn from mistakes that I’ve made along the way, and that has led to my success as an administrative professional.
Through my educational journey, I have been afforded many opportunities within the last 12 years – such as obtaining a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree, and becoming a certified Records Management Specialist through the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) … I’ve also participated in various administrative professional webinars, attended administrative conferences, and taken several Human Resources classes. I like being in charge of my career, and these opportunities help me do that!”
“This profession is both a means AND an end, and an immensely satisfying and gratifying one at that”
James Sobczak, USA: “There are a number of ways to think about career growth, whether it’s gaining more knowledge, insight and wisdom in your position, or shifting to a new position in a different area of the enterpris … You also need to really consider what a promotion means to you, what kind of promotion you want, and whether you will be happy and fulfilled in the long run, both personally and professionally.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking about any kind of assistant position just as a means to an end to get some ‘better’ job. This profession is both a means AND an end, and an immensely satisfying and gratifying one at that.”
“People respect your honesty”
Catherine Thomas, Wales: “ The NHS Wales PA Network is something I am very proud off. It came to life after a conference 10+ years ago, where Susie Barron-Stubley spoke about the value of PA networks. By the time I had commuted back to Wales from London, I had written a business plan illustrating how we were going to implement a network in my organisation. My Director didn’t bat an eyelid at my idea. She did, however, challenge me to implement the network across NHS Wales and not just the six PAs reflected in my business plan!
I owe a lot to Susie Barron-Stubley. I will always be grateful to her for her encouragement to start to network and to my Director Sally Attwood for the push.”
“I see my manager as my client, and I see the rest of management the same way”
Bettina Wemanis, Sweden: “I see my manager as my client, and I see the rest of management the same way. After all, my job is to relieve, facilitate and prepare so that the daily work functions as smoothly as possible. It is important to be flexible and open to changes and new ideas, but also to act as a kind of filter.
… Create trust with the manager you assist. Be interested in people and trust them. Extend service both internally and externally.”
Click any name below for my full interview with any of the Real Careers alumni featured in 2019’s 12 Days of Real Careers
- Day One: Stephanie Bergsieker (USA), Jane Brazzill (England), Paula Harding (England), Paula Moio (Angola, Portugal, England), Eleni Rizikianou (Greece), Carla Stefanut (Italy), Teri Wells (South Africa)
- Day Two: Monika Bercheter-Petterson (Norway), Angela Downey (England), Erika Giesl (Canada), Stacey King (Australia), Nora Onishi (USA), Barbara J. (BJ) Parrish (USA), Debbi Shaffer (USA), Megan Williamson (USA)
- Day Three: Beth Arzy (England; interview to be published in early 2020), Susan Henderson (England), MistiLynn Lokken (USA), Kelly McAulay (Scotland), Renée Neverson (USA), James Sobczak (USA), Catherine Thomas (Wales), Bettina Wemanis (Sweden)
- Day Four: Stacey Brewer (USA), Bonnie Cookson (England), Susan Engelbrecht (South Africa), Maria Cirillo (Sweden; interview to be published in early 2020), Melissa Francis (England), Debra Peltz (England), Breda Shanahan (Republic of Ireland), Laura Swallows (USA), Katherine Vaillancourt (the Philippines and Canada)
- Day Five: Lorna Cowan (Northern Ireland), Denise Delamain (England), Erin Floss (USA), Declan Halton-Woodward (England), Cathy Harris (South Africa), Else-Britt Lundgren (Sweden), Catherine Marshall Penasa (USA), Dalya Perry-Bernstein (England), Helen Rees (England)
- Day Six: Sarah Duncan (USA), Joanne Gallop (NZ), Florence Katono (Uganda), Solveig Kristensen (Norway), Melanie Sheehy (England), Truus van den Brink-Havinga (Netherlands), Marc Taylor-Allan (England), Catherine Williamson (England)
- Day Seven: Lisa Assetta (USA), Maria Gottberg (Sweden), Priscilia Gough (South Africa and Canada), Jacqueline McCumber (USA), Amy Marsden (England and New Zealand), Melanie Richardson (England), Karen Richmond (Scotland), Carolina Siqueira Silva (Brazil), Chantal Sneijkers (Belgium)
- Day Eight: Nicole Blanchette (Canada), Aimee Browne (England), Jean Coco (USA), Laureen Dailey (Canada), Kerry Dawson (England), Sherri Eckworth (England), Julia Schmidt (Brazil and Norway), Barbara Unger (Canada), Shirwyn Weber (South Africa), Lesley Dexter Young (England)
- Day Nine: Suzanne Bendersk (USA), Tonya Beattie (USA), Chantalle Freeborough (Canada), Amanda Hargreaves (England), Karin Hélène (Sweden), Karine McKee (England; interview to follow in early 2020), Maria Marsh (England), Jennifer Robson (Australia), Marcela Silva da Conceição Brito (Brazil), Matthew Want (England)
- Day 10: Rebecca Agyirba Afful (Ghana; interview to follow in early 2020), Megan Bishop (USA), Dawn Becker (Canada), Alison Boler (England),Juliana Carneiro (Brazil and The Netherlands), Giulietta Driver (England), Beth Ann Howard (USA), Cindy Moeser (Canada), Angela Parker (Germany), Liza Young (Scotland)
- Day 11: Brenda Edwards (England; interview to follow March 6), Sarah Howson (England), Deirdre McGovern (USA), Anita Olsen (Norway), Janice Parker (Australia and England), Christabell Pinchin (Canada), John D. Shaw (USA), Peyton Tickner (USA; interview to follow in early 202010), Donna Venditti (Canada), Emily Walker (England)
- Day 12: Margo Baptista (Canada), Craig Bryson (England), Bianca Constance (USA), Debbie Grimshaw (England), Sofie Koark (Sweden), Juanita Mort (USA), Jannie Oosterhoff (Netherlands), Carys Stacey (England), Sally Thomas (USA), Louise Whitehead (England)