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 Belgium, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Mauritius, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Republic of Ireland, Scotland, South Africa, the USA and Wales, and now make our way to Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada to visit with Joanna Campbell.
A Productive Start to the Day
I’m up at 6:30, and make breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner before 7:00 a.m. I get the kids out the door, and make my way to work. My commute is five minutes by car.
At the Office
The first job is to put the kettle on for tea and then call the President to review his day with him during his 45-minute commute. The only typical thing about by my day is that I can’t predict what will land on my desk. I have a to-do list, but have to be ready to switch between changing priorities at a moment’s notice.
- Manage the President’s Calendar
- Ensure the President has all the material he needs so that he is prepared for meetings and other events
- Draft various reports for the President
- Organise special events on behalf of the President – these events range in size from two – 250 people
- Manage staffing in the Executive Office
How long is your work day? I arrive between 8:00 and 8:30, and usually depart around 5:30. I often go home and spend time with my family before working for another hour or so after they have gone to bed.
What might be a typical lunch? Soup or salad, often on the run or from my desk.
Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? Yes, on a regular basis.
Dealing with Challenges
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? Managing and juggling changing priorities
I am proud of the relationships I have built and maintained
What do you most enjoy about your career? The diversity of the responsibilities I have in my job
On Saying “No”
I don’t say it as often as I should.
Outside the office, I like to spend time with my kids and catching up with “home” responsibilities. Occasionally I spend time with friends and, after that, reading.
How do you pamper or reward yourself after a tough day or week? I go to bed early with a good book.
A dream holiday or travel adventure? Visiting friends and family in New Zealand and Australia
Be loyal and demonstrate your enthusiasm by always looking for ways to take on extra responsibilities
Education and Professional Development
My education got me started in this role, but I’ve learnt mostly on the job. The career development activities I’ve participated in have primarily connected me with colleagues, which I find very useful.
Awards and Recognition
I was honoured to receive the 2015 Governance and Presidents Office Professionals (GPOP) “Professional Achievement Award”.
Stand up for yourself in a polite, firm way
Style and Substance
What one or two cosmetics would your purse or travel bag be empty without? Mascara and lip balm
Heels or flats? Heels
Preferred scent: Body Shop’s Jasmine eau de toilette
What might we find in your desk drawer? Erasable pens and chocolate
Travel or travel planning advice? Research. Always learn as much as you can about a place to ensure you know where you are going, or can ensure your boss has all the information s/he needs.
Working with your executive: Once you have that trust, the two of you will be an effective team
Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud. I am proud of the relationships I have built and maintained. I think they are important to ensure I can do a good job, but they are also important to me personally.
Relationships … are important to ensure I can do a good job, but they are also important to me personally
What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career?
- Stay organised
- Don’t take things personally
- Stand up for yourself in a polite, firm way
Your most effective time management strategy? Using the task list in Outlook to manage tasks
Stay organised and don’t take things personally
Advice for a new mother working to the workplace? It gets easier. If you aren’t getting support from your family, find some good friends to provide you with a mental break from kids and work.
Advice for new executives on how to best work with an assistant: Ensure you can trust your Assistant. If you can’t trust them, you need to find a new once. Once you have that trust, the two of you will be an effective team.
For those interested in promotion: Be loyal and demonstrate your enthusiasm by always looking for ways to take on extra responsibilities.
… and now, a note from Shelagh. 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.