Join me for today’s Real Careers interview with Anastasia Tertigka of Winnipeg, Canada. Anastasia came to Canada from Greece.
Anastasia Tertigka is a Corporate Secretary/Senior Executive Assistant at International Institute for Sustainable Development. Here’s a look at her world.
I used to wake up at 6:00 a.m. and a cup of hot tea was a must to keep me warm at the bus stop. My commute is 45 minutes each way. When you do commute, who or what is on your commuting playlist/podcast? I’d listen to classic rock in the morning, and jazz, soul or Celtic music when heading back home. Special days would be disco days!
Primary Responsibilities: I coordinate all aspects of board and board committee meetings (virtual and in-person). This includes prioritizing the timely collection of materials, creating meeting agendas and packages and recording minutes. I execute tasks including domestic and international travel arrangements, scheduling, submission of expense reports, calendar and inbox management, correspondence, and handling confidential information. As well, I act as a liaison between the President, the Board of Directors and the senior management team
Feeling challenged is part of growing
Morning Routines: My work routine is almost ritual. I turn on the computer, make tea, say good morning to colleagues, double check my exec’s daily calendar, check emails, work through my to-do list (getting satisfaction when I cross off a task), and then adapt to anything the day has to bring.
How long is your work day? I used to spend seven and a half hours in the office and, on the commute home, would make notes on my task list for the next day.
What might be a typical lunch? I used to use lunch breaks to walk across the river, clear my head or catch up on personal errands.
Are you involved in any employee groups/teams independent of your role? I volunteer to coordinate my organization’s holiday party, and I actively participate in our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.
Inside the career
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? It’s been learning about board governance and related policies.
What do you most enjoy about your career? Every day is different, so I never get bored. The fact that I get to gain knowledge on different areas of expertise is inspiring.
The fact that I get to gain knowledge on different areas of expertise is inspiring
On Saying “No”
I don’t say “no” easily. I guess that would be my soft spot, but I am working on that.
Working during a pandemic
Tell us about your experience with remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. I have been working from home since March 2020.
The benefits include not having to wake early or commute, having my own personally decorated office space with my mini indoor terrariums, and not having to dress up every day.
Challenges include having an issue understanding when the work day has to stop. I find myself working after hours many days.
How would you rate your productivity when working remotely? My productivity has definitely increased. I keep track of tasks more easily as I am more focused, and there are less interruptions.
What would be your ideal work scenario once we settle in to new norms? Would you prefer to be back in the office, at home, or proceed with a hybrid approach? I would prefer to work from home all the time, but I understand that one or two days at the office might be also needed.
What’s been your biggest career lesson/takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic? Now more than ever, I realize that the key to a good professional relationship is a mix of honest communication and empathy.
What’s been your biggest life lesson/takeaway from the COVID-19 pandemic? Happiness is a choice that can be made even in the most difficult situations if you re-evaluate your priorities in life.
How has the pandemic impacted your approach to professional development? Have you been attending webinars, and/or what other approach have you taken to professional growth at this point in time? The pandemic has enabled me to attend even more webinars and explore many networking opportunities.
Now more than ever, I realize that the key to a good professional relationship is a mix of honest communication and empathy
Individuals and employers are increasingly aware of the importance of taking steps to reduce our carbon footprints. What steps are underway within your workplace to reduce carbon footprints?
I work for the International Institute for Sustainable Development, based in Winnipeg, Canada. Our vision is a world where people and the planet thrive. Our mission is to accelerate solutions for a stable climate, sustainable resources, and fair economies.
We have actively established policies in our workplace that support and practically show our values
Beyond our work in this area, we have actively established policies in our workplace that support and practically show our values. These include recycling paper and e-waste, composting food and beverage waste, offering transit subsidies to staff, and using ESG (environmental, social, governance) factors to evaluate our collaborations.
Please highlight some steps you take to reduce your carbon footprint in your personal life. These include recycling, veganism, use of public transit, energy, and water-saving practices at home.
I’m motivated and effective, and tech savvy and adaptable to changes
I was born in Greece and, since moving here seven years ago, I call Winnipeg, Canada home. At heart, are you a city mouse or a country mouse? I would love to leave in the country, but I have lived my life in Athens, Greece – so now, living in a small city like Winnipeg is somehow closer to my dream of living in the country.
How long have you been in this career? I’ve been an assistant for 17 years; I took a three-year break as an entrepreneur. What was your first such role? I was an Office Administrator.
How did you learn about the opportunity that led to your current role? I found it among other job listings on an employment website.
How do you like to spend your time away from the office? I enjoy crafts, upcycling furniture, gardening, and camping.
How do you decompress or reward yourself after a tough day or week? I am a huge supporter of small pleasures – a good meal, a walk at the park with my daughter, a special cup of coffee, or simply finding 10 minutes of peace to meditate
Your ideal holiday or travel adventure? Camping in Canada and traveling in Europe again, but this time by train
Happiness is a choice that can be made even in the most difficult situations if you re-evaluate your priorities in life
Education and professional development
My formal education is in a completely different field (Psychology) from my career, but I believe in diversity in education and I was able to identify its value in my professional development.
Describe any positive benefits your networking and professional development have had on your career, and/or for your employer. I am actively seeking to obtain my Administrative Professional certification in Canada. Being a member of many admin groups is helping a lot in obtaining information and advice.
Networking, inspiration and achievements
Tell us about a career accomplishment or two of which you’re particularly proud. I managed to successfully incorporate my European experience as an administrative professional in securing and adapting to my new career requirements in Canada, and in a short period of time.
I moved to the field of corporate governance management, which was new to me, and managed to deliver great results.
Inspirational reads? Stephen Covey’s “The 7 Habits of highly effective people”
Recruitment is often competency-based, with competencies reflecting both behavioural (“soft” skills) and technical (“hard” skills) competencies. Tell us about your behavioural and technical competencies that are relevant to success in your current position. I’m motivated and effective, and tech savvy and adaptable to changes.
Have you received or been nominated for any performance awards, through either your employer or a professional association? I was a finalist for the 2021 Canadian Administrative Professional Award.
I don’t say “no” easily. I guess that would be my soft spot, but I am working on that.
What steps do you take when you recognise that you need to move beyond your comfort zone? I just get out there. Feeling challenged is part of growing.
What skill(s) development or enhancement have you targeted for the next year? I want to obtain my administrative professional certification.
Do you have any career goals or accomplishments on your radar for the next five years? I will explore opportunities for professional courses.
For job interviews: Know your strengths and weaknesses, and be prepared to discuss both
The Digital Age
What are your preferred forms of social media? Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Clubhouse
What apps do you make use of in your professional life? MS Teams, OneNote, Outlook, SharePoint
What positive impact(s) do you think artificial intelligence (AI), digital assistants and the internet of things (IOT) will have on the assistant of 2025? Digital assistants can be an ally in our work.
Travel or travel planning recommendations? I think we need to reevaluate travel planning procedures when travel restrictions are removed.
Anastasia’s employer is “using ESG (environmental, social, governance) factors to evaluate our collaborations”
Give us one or two of your best strategies for job interviews. Know what you want and what your new employer will expect from you. Know how you can show them your skills; give examples. Know your strengths and weaknesses, and be prepared to discuss both.
I believe in empathy, not in sympathy
What are a couple of suggestions you’d offer that new assistant on the block, in terms of how to build effective business relationships within the office? I believe in empathy, not in sympathy. I feel that if we spend some time learning the story and background of our colleagues, it is easier to understand how they work or what motivates them – and then we can work better as a team.
Your most effective time management strategy? I have recently started using the Pomodoro technique (click here for Shelagh’s 2015 article on this app) and I am surprised by its effectiveness.
What are a couple of valuable early conversation topics you recommend an assistant initiate when beginning work with a new executive/principal? I strongly suggest establishing a good communication channel to identify management and working style and adapt accordingly.
Working with a new principal: identify management and working style and adapt accordingly
Your thoughts on goal setting? My personal life has changed in many ways in the past year and so my goal, for now, is to keep my professional growth active despite the circumstances.
About Shelagh and her Real Careers interviews
At the age of 21, Shelagh was a direct report to a COO. Within the same corporation, she became an editor and then a corporate trainer before a relocation and a return to what became an almost 30-year assistant career. Wrapping up that career in 2018 after a decade in governance, Shelagh’s been a direct report to four CEOs and accountable to four board chairs. Now, she delivers quality training internationally. She speaks at conferences, works with corporate clients, facilitates retreats, and delivers webinars to diverse audiences of assistants who want to perform at a high level.
Shelagh launched her Real Careers series in 2015. She interviews assistants around the globe in order to showcase individuals and the career itself. This series and the questions Shelagh poses continue to evolve. In addition to providing interesting reads and diverse perspectives, these interviews can constitute a form of professional development, as readers can explore different approaches assistants take to building and maintaining successful careers. To explore any of Shelagh’s interviews with assistants in 27 countries to date, follow the Real Careers/Interviews drop-down menus on this page – and enjoy!