Exceptional EA is pleased to feature Real Careers, in which EAs, Management Assistants, PAs and other administrators from around the globe generously share a bit of their lives and the benefit of their experience. We began with virtual trips to South Africa, the US and UK, and now visit Laureen Dailey in British Columbia, Canada.
Exercise, Kittens, and Out the Door
My day typically starts with exercise, rising around 5:30 a.m. to get in about 30-45 minutes of cardio or weight training. Of course, before I do that, I have to brush, feed and cuddle with my two kitties! On a good traffic/weather day, I have about a 35 minute drive to work.
What music might you play or sing along to during your commute? It all depends on my mood! I enjoy soft rock from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. If I’m looking for something to unwind to, I usually turn to piano or classical music.
At the Office
Morning Routines: The first thing I do when I arrive at work is to check email – especially any from my President – as well as voicemail, my Tickler file and Outlook tasks.
Primary Responsibilities: The President’s schedule, working closely with the Senior Management Team and the Board Secretary, President’s Office events, supervising the President’s Office admin assistant. A typical day involves emails, project work, preparing agendas, emails, often meetings, following up on meeting action items, and more emails…
How long is your work day? I aim to arrive at work between 8:30 and 9:00 a.m. and try to leave by 5:00 p.m. (not always very successful!).
What might be a typical lunch? Where do you eat? A typical lunch is soup or a salad, usually eaten at my desk. However, I do enjoy going out for lunch when time permits and we celebrate office birthdays by bringing food in (often Thai).
Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? Yes, from home; never during my commute (I’m driving!). Sunday afternoons are often spent on work, usually preparing minutes, and I keep an eye on work related emails during evenings and weekends.
Dealing with Challenges
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? The most challenging aspect of my day is managing interruptions and trying not to get side-tracked by the latest request.
Step out from your comfort zone
What do you most enjoy about your career? The variety of the work (no two days are exactly the same), the things that keep me challenged and growing both professionally and personally, and the interactions with people.
On Saying “No”
How readily or often do you say “no” to people? Not often enough! I do what I do because I want to help/support people, so saying “no” doesn’t come easily.
I was born in Chesley, Ontario – a small town in Southern Ontario, Canada. I’m probably a small “c” city gal. I’ve come to appreciate the conveniences the city has to offer but have never lived in a large city – usually towns or small cities. I still love returning to the rural area where I grew up.
Away from the office, I spend my time with my husband and friends. I enjoy walking, running, golfing, reading, watching movies, cooking, playing with my cats …
A dream holiday or travel adventure? I don’t think I can pin it down to just one! So many places to go and things to do! A Mediterranean cruise and a tour of Ireland are high on the list.
Education and Professional Development
Education: I have a post-secondary diploma in Legal Secretarial Sciences, supplemented by various professional development trainings and self-taught learnings over the years. Every little bit helps to keep abreast of changes in the profession and with technology.
Upgrade your education
Peer and Professional Associations: I belong to the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and hold a Certified Administrative Professional rating with a specialty in Organizational Management (CAP-OM). I’m also a member of the National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education (NAPAHE), and of Colleges and Institutes Canada: Governance and President’s Office Professionals (CICan:GPOP), also known as GPOP.
Any leadership role with your peers can help you grow professionally and personally
I have held leadership roles with the IAAP Vancouver Chapter, where I served as Education Committee Chair, and have served as Chair of GPOP’s Conference and Professional Development Committee.
Currently, I am the Coordinator for the Douglas College IAAP LAN (Local Area Network), which offers professional development events. I also serve as GPOP’s 2015-16 Membership and Communications Committee Chair, and am a member of the GPOP Board of Directors.
Any kind of leadership role with your peers can only help you grow professionally and personally by giving you an opportunity to learn new skills and become more confident in your abilities.
Technology for learning or enhancing skills? In the past, I’ve used Certiport for online MOS training. I’m also looking forward to using Lynda.com, which I now have access to through my employer.
Style and Substance
What one or two cosmetics would your purse or travel bag be empty without? Lipstick and eye liner.
Heels or flats? Heels, in the office and for the commute. Favourite brands, whether you wear them or they’re on your wish list? Franco Sarto, Liz Claiborne, Etienne Aigner, Ellen Tracey
Preferred scent: Currently Dahlia Noir by Givenchy
What might we find in your desk drawer? All the usual culprits, plus snacks, lipstick and lip moisturizer, clear nail polish (to stop those nylon runs!), a spare pair of nylons, and Advil!
Role models? I have a number of peer role models through my various professional associations, as well as the admin professionals that I have the pleasure to work with! I’m also fortunate to have a boss who is a wonderful role model. She is the perfect example of a smart, strong and successful woman.
What insight would have been most helpful to you early in your career? Pursue a degree and do the things that make you uncomfortable (like public speaking) in order to challenge yourself and grow.
Step out from your comfort zone
Your most effective time management strategy? Closing my door and dedicating a focused amount of time to the task at hand.
For those interested in promotion: Join a networking group, get involved, volunteer, gain experience, upgrade your education/skills.
Advice for new executives on how to best work with an assistant: Communicate, and trust in your assistant’s abilities.
… a note, now, from Shelagh. Readers unfamiliar with some of the resources Laureen mentioned may be interested in checking the following links. To explore a range of resources recommended by our readers, click here for Exceptional EA’s Resources Page.
- CICan:GPOP – Governance and President’s Office Professionals
- International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP)
- NAPAHE – National Association of Presidential Assistants in Higher Education