Exceptional EA showcases Real Careers, in which administrators from around the globe generously share the benefit of their experience. We’ve made virtual trips to 23 countries to date: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Greece, Italy, Mauritius, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Northern Ireland, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, Sweden, Turkey, Uganda, the United Arab Emirates , the United States of America and Wales. Today, we’re off to Kentucky in the USA.
Aimee Reese, CPC, PACE is Senior Executive Assistant to her employer’s President and CEO. Here’s a look at her world.
An early riser
I am up by 6:00 – 6:15 each morning. I do not do any caffeine, so my morning consists of feeding my two mini Aussies and then checking my emails. My commute is about 10 minutes and I drive to work. Who or what is on your commuting playlist/podcast? I like to listen to country music on my way to work.
At the Office
Primary Responsibilities: Global travel, dictation, transcription, filtering calls, emails, organizing calendars, organizing conference calls, and managing other staff
Morning Routines: I check voicemail, then go through my executive’s email. I don’t have a typical day, as my day is dictated by what is on my executive’s agenda and what he has decided to do that day. It can be anything from arranging meetings for his office to conference calls and working with the flight department for a trip. Every day, though, involves filtering emails and taking dictation for responses to emails and people he has met – as he does respond to every email, phone call and letter he receives.
How long is your work day? In the office it can be between 40-50 hours. It just depends on what’s going on. I typically do work into the evenings and weekends, checking emails and responding to things as they come in.
Given health risks associated with views that sitting is the new smoking, have you or your employer adopted any steps to support good health? This is a new area for our company, so we have not fully adapted anything at the moment. We have a few people who have standing desks and we had some weight watcher groups in the company, as well.
What might be a typical lunch? I always leave the office for lunch as that hour is so important to just have for me and to refocus.
Dealing with Challenges
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? The hardest part is a lack of communication and not being included, as it makes it harder for me to do my job when I don’t have all the details to sort out an issue or make things a bit smoother.
When you say no, you are helping your executive to stay on track and focused
What do you most enjoy about your career? Working as a team with my executive and making sure that they have what they need in order to complete their agenda, etc. for the day.
On Saying “No”
I do say “no”and have no problem saying it. The reason is that when you say no, you are helping your executive to stay on track and focused on the task at hand. Saying no is not a bad thing; it helps everyone to re-evaluate and look at what the real priorities are.
How do you like to spend your time away from the office? I like to do crafts such as painting, creating home décor, cooking and enjoying the outdoors with my husband.
How long have you been an admin. professional? Almost 30 years What was your first such role? Secretary How did you learn about the opportunity that led to your current role? I applied to an ad for an Executive Assistant to a President.
What might we find in your desk drawer? Pens, paper, paper clips and some files
How do you decompress or reward yourself after a tough day or week? I listen to relaxing spa music on my way home, and then I attend yoga to help with relaxation.
A dream holiday or travel adventure? My favorite place to vacation is Colorado.
Put yourself first in both your career and personal life
Education and Professional Development
I am a Certified Professional Life Coach as well as a Health Coach. Learning to talk to others helps with keeping me calm in stressful situations and also to really listen to what others say. I also attend the APC conference each year, and that has been a huge benefit.
Peer and Professional Associations: American Society of Administrative Professionals, and International Coach Federation
Do you hold (or have you held) a leadership role in such an organisation? I sit on the advisory council for ASAP’s APC conference. Tell us about the impact this leadership role has had on you. Being part of the advisory council has really helped me share what I have learned over the past 30 years with others in the administrative professional industry.
How have these networks or associations helped you? It gives me the opportunity to stay up to date with how things are in different industries and what others may be using that could be helpful in my position.
Have you earned any certifications earned through the association? PACE – Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence
What are the primary means of communication for members of your network(s)/professional association(s)? LinkedIn, and email
Inspirational reads? Mel Robbins has been a great influence on my career.
Recruitment is often competency-based. Which of the competencies you bring to the role are most relevant to success in your current position? Capability. You have to be capable to handle any situation that arises – whether good or bad, stressful or easy.
Role models or mentors? I can honestly say I don’t have just one person. I have some amazing people in my life who have helped me become the person I am today. Each has given me different advice and guidance – whether it was how to be positive, keeping true to myself or stepping out of my comfort zone. They all have helped me in those areas.
Be authentic and professional
Have you received any awards or recognition as an admin. professional? I have not received any awards via my employer. I was awarded the 2016-2017 Inductee National Association of Professional Women VIP Woman of the Year Award.
Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud. I was asked by LinkedIn to be an author for them, and work with them to do 17 training videos to help current and future administrative professionals. What benefits have you derived from networking? Being on LinkedIn has helped me to reach out to other administrative professionals. As well, it has been a great place for others to reach out to me to help them with training, and questions they need help with.
What steps do you take when you recognise that you need to move beyond your comfort zone? I take some time for myself to gather my thoughts, then take some deep breaths and tell myself that I can do this. I don’t let myself get scared or shy away right away; I just take some time to really absorb and get fully focused.
What skill(s) development or enhancement have you targeted for the next year? Working on becoming more comfortable doing public speaking
Do you have any career goals or accomplishments on your radar for the next five years? Yes, I would like to work towards having my own business where I could help other companies hire extraordinary administrative professionals and also help train them to become rock stars.
The Digital Age, and Evolution of the Assistant’s Role
Do you publish to, and/or monitor social media or a website as part of your professional responsibilities? No. What are your preferred forms of social media? LinkedIn
What apps do you make use of in your professional life? Whats App and Office Lens are two that I use.
Your dream app, or software, to help you in your career? It would be good if you could have both your executive’s calendar and yours on your phones, without having to have all your executive’s items on your own calendar in order to see them on your phone.
Describe any impacts social media has had on the role you hold within your organisation. With having in-house PR staff, I have not had to worry about anything that is posted on social media.
Have you used technology to digitize processes or materials in your workplace? No; these were already in place in our organization.
Do you have an employer-provided smartphone? Yes. Tell us about both the positive and adverse impacts that 24:7 availability via smartphones, etc. may have had on your quality of life. It makes you feel as though you have to constantly be available. Vacations are not true vacations as you work even if checking your email, so your personal time is really not your personal time.
Are the meetings you coordinate or attend primarily digital (relying on portals and/or PDFs of meeting materials), or paper-based? Paper-based Does your organisation make use of an intranet/SharePoint or other web portals? Yes, we have a product called Atlas and it has worked well in people being able to find items on our products for marketing use, etc.
Time management: schedule time in between tasks so that you can refocus
AI, Digital Assistants and the IOT: Their Impacts on this Career
When it comes to digital innovation and disruption, how would you categorise the pace of change in your environment? We are a bit slower, and take our time implementing change.
How do you see your workplace evolving with respect to Digital Assistants and artificial intelligence (AI)? I don’t see that being part of our organization. What about digital /cybersecurity practices, and disclosure requirements in instances of data security breaches? It’s already being looked at and being addressed.
It’s not unusual to read that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will increasingly impact employment prospects across a range of occupations. What forms of professional development would you recommend to assistants who want to ensure their roles remain relevant and rewarding in this digital age? You really have to learn to have what I call the Power to Choose. You have to learn to put yourself first in both your career and personal life. Working with a career coach really helped me to follow my own advice, as well as really listening to what makes your heart sing. Mel Robbins, Declan Coyle and Darren Hardy have helped me with my own personal development.
Travel or travel planning recommendations? When you book travel, look at what all you would want to know in advance. Be sure that you always book the flight, hotel and transport for your executive all at the same time; that way, everything is covered. You know how they are getting to the airport, what flights they’ll be on, and then where they are staying as well as how they are getting from the airport to the hotel. Try and book everything at least 14 days in advance as it is less expensive and tends to not be sold out.
What apps or programs do you and/or your principal/executive find useful for travelling and for tracking expenses? Concur is wonderful for expenses, and normal apps for airlines is a great place for travel.
Book the flight, hotel and transport for your executive all at the same time
You’re talking to a counterpart embarking on a job search. What approach would you recommend? Be sure that you have a great resume and cover letter. Start networking with your peers in the industry and use job searches on LinkedIn and some other sites – not just Monster and Indeed, etc.
Give us one or two of your best strategies for job interviews. Be authentic and professional.
What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? To stay relaxed and don’t panic over things that are out of your control
Job hunting? Network with industry peers
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? Make yourself a resource, don’t try and be a dictator but more of a leader.
Goal setting is important to career success. What lessons have you learned? The main thing is to always use SMART when you are working to a goal set. It truly does help you to make sure that you don’t have more goals than you need. As well, it helps you to really stay on track when you work towards fulfilling those goals.
Your most effective time management strategy? Always schedule time in between tasks so that you can refocus and then have a clear mind for the next task.
Advice for a new parent working to the workplace? It will take some time to balance your work and home life, but it is possible. Just keep a positive mindset and don’t stress over the small things.
What are a couple of valuable early conversation topics you recommend an assistant initiate when beginning work with a new executive/principal? Find out how they work, and how they like certain things handled – such as if they want you to screen their calls, check in with them daily, and how they like meetings booked.
SMART goals help you stay on track
For those interested in promotion:Learn from those who have more experience, don’t be afraid to ask questions and be open to suggestions.
… and now, a note from Shelagh. Readers not familiar with some of the people and resources Aimee mentioned may be interested in checking the following links.
- APC – Administrative Professionals Conference
- ASAP – American Society of Administrative Professionals
- PACE – ASAP’s Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence
- SMART Goals – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic/Relevant and Time-Bound
To explore a range of resources recommended by readers, click here for Exceptional EA’s Resources Page or click here to see all professional associations and networks recommended by peers.