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 Amsterdam, The Netherlands to visit with Juliana Carneiro.
A Family-Focused Start
I normally wake up at 6:30, get the kids ready and at daycare at around 8:30 and then start my 30 minute journey to the office. I use the public transport as it is really efficient here in the Netherlands, and normally quicker than driving.
I don’t play music while commuting, I sleep – these extra 30 minutes of sleep are the best safety measure towards my colleagues.
At the Office
Morning Routines: Once in the office, I go and check if everybody is okay, chat a bit (while the computer starts) and get myself coffee and water.
Checking the emails (inbox, sent and deleted items) is first on my list. Both of my managers are really quick on email management and keeping up with them is quite a challenge. In most cases it is easier to find me through their inbox than mine. Calendars are the next priority; before leaving the office I double check that everything is arranged, so I don’t need to worry about it the next morning. My primary responsibility is supporting both managers on anything they need, and I have arranged events from conferences to birthday parties, and that is fine with me – even if it is not in my job description.
There is no day like the other, so my typical day is always a surprise!
How long is your work day? Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? Because I need flexibility in my working hours, my days are never the same. I sometimes arrive around 10:00 and leave around 4:00, but I also start working again after 8:30 when the kids are in bed. This is not the same for all the assistants, but reflects my managers’ managing style, and I am really grateful for that. We have this mutual agreement that, the same way I am available 24/7, I am also free to take care of private matters during working hours. I go to doctors, school meetings, etc. during working hours without having to book time off, but I also work on the weekends if needed (it doesn’t happen that often). My time off is for holidays, which I take normally at the same time as them.
What might be a typical lunch? Where do you eat? The one rule that can not be broken in our team is lunch time. I refuse to plan meetings during lunch and I also “force” all the team members to drop any PowerPoint, Excel or emails they are busy with and go have lunch together. It is a must. We normally go to the canteen, but sometimes when the weather is nice we go to a place where we can sit outside.
Dealing with Challenges
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? Getting to understand the “why”. Everything changes so many times and so quickly that I need to ask myself many times a day why I am doing this (whatever “this” might be).
When I say that I have a Bachelor’s degree in Secretarial Education, it opens a lot of doors
What do you most enjoy about your career? The contact with people, and the fact every day is a different day
On Saying “No”
I do it quite often. I make the “why” very clear as well; either I don’t have the time or I don’t think I should be doing it. If they need help I will always help, but won’t do the task for my colleagues.
Role Model: My mother … even today, she is the one I go to when I need to discuss my job
I was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil. 15 years ago I migrated to the Netherlands, and I love every single minute of it. I am definitely a city gal; I grew up in Sao Paulo and that is a 24-hour city. There is always something happening somewhere.
Outside the office I like to spend time with my girls (three year old twins). As I work full time, when I am not in the office I am 200% with them.
What song or two are we likely to find you singing along to when driving, or if no one’s listening? Lately, well, Let it Go (I have been brainwashed by Elsa).
How do you pamper or reward yourself after a tough day or week? Having fun with my daughters – laughing, dressing up and being silly.
A dream holiday or travel adventure? That would be a road trip to eastern Europe with my girls.
Education and Professional Development
Education: In Brazil, all the assistants need to have a university degree in Secretarial Education so, yes, education was highly important and a key thing for my career. When I say that I have a Bachelor’s degree in Secretarial Education, it opens a lot of doors.
Peer and Professional Associations: I’m still looking for the one I would feel comfortable with.
Interested in promotion? Learn, learn, learn, and talk to your executive about what you’re learning
Preferred form(s) of social media? Facebook for private use, and LinkedIn (https://nl.linkedin.com/in/carneirojuliana) for business. Twitter is a totally grey area for me.
Your dream app, or software, to help you in your career? A GPS locator of my managers … sometimes they disappear. I wish I could track them down.
Awards and Recognition
I have received performance awards from my managers (bonus, gifts, etc.) but they were never announced to the company; it was just for the three of us.
If you find training you are interested in, ask for it; if the first answer is no, ask again in six months
Style and Substance
What one or two cosmetics would your purse or travel bag be empty without? Lip gloss and mascara (the only makeup I ever use)
Heels or flats in the office? Both. For your commute? Flats! Favourite brands of shoes, whether you wear them or they’re on your wish list? No favourite, but it seems I choose only shoes made in Brazil. It is kind of funny; I get into a store, look at the shoes, pick the ones I like and turn them around: Made in Brazil.
Preferred scent: Allure, by Chanel
What might we find in your desk drawer? Birthday cards, chocolate, a plethora of phone chargers, chocolate and the first aid kit
Travel or travel planning advice? On travel, planning is key. Knowing your executives’ preferences is also key; when you know those, that is already half of the booking done.
The one rule that can not be broken in our team is lunch time
Role models or mentors? My mother. She was an assistant when I was still in diapers, and my first job was replacing her during her sick leave. Even today, she is the one I go to when I need to discuss my job.
Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud. There are a couple: I was able to re-enter the market three years after migrating from Brazil to The Netherlands, and I entered it at the same level I had achieved when I left my country. As well, I just got an offer from a different company (I said YES!), which will mean a huge step up for me, and I am proud that I am leaving my current job with all the “golden stars” one can have.
Do you have any career goals or accomplishments on your radar for the next five years? I do. I want to be the assistant to the CEO of an international company.
What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? Listen to your guts; they are right most of the time .
I want to be the assistant to the CEO of an international company
Your most effective time management strategy? Music on my earphones – when I have the music on, the works gets done much faster.
Advice for a new mother working to the workplace? Don’t try doing everything on your own. Ask for help. Believe me, when you ask for it, you get it.
Advice for new executives on how to best work with an assistant: Your assistant deserves the same professional respect that you have for all your other direct reports. Remember that, and you two will go a very long way together.
Don’t try doing everything on your own; ask for help
For those interested in promotion: Learn, learn, learn, and talk to your executive about what you’re learning. If you find training you are interested in, ask for it. If the first answer is no, ask again in six months. If you don’t give up, your executive will understand that you mean business.
… and now, a note from Shelagh. To explore a range of resources recommended by Real Careers alumni, click here for Exceptional EA’s Resources Page or click here to see all professional associations and networks recommended by peers.