Exceptional EA is pleased to showcase Real Careers, in which administrators from around the globe generously share the benefit of their experience. We’ve made virtual trips to Belgium, Canada, England, the Netherlands, Scotland, South Africa and the USA, and now make our way back to the UK to visit with Julia Robertson-Avenell.
Early to Rise
I wake around 5:30, have a coffee, see to the cat and start getting ready for work. My drive to work can take anything from 30 to 90 minutes depending on traffic or what office I am in that day. What two or three musicians/composers are on your playlist for your commute? I’ll often listen to Chris Evans (my hero) on Radio 2 or I may flick between Fleetwood Mac or the Doors.
At the Office
Morning Routines: I’m normally the first to arrive at the office, so I’ll make a coffee and go through emails received overnight, catch up on LinkedIn, check for Hays news updates, and begin to plan my day.
Primary Responsibilities: I am responsible for the administration of two sales teams, producing management reports and booking the training of our new associates. One day could be spent on a project, the next on paperwork. That’s what’s great about this role – no two days are ever the same.
What might be a typical lunch? Where do you eat? I typically eat a sandwich for lunch. I’m a creature of habit and will eat the same filling sandwich for months until I tire of the taste!
Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? I like to keep up to speed with our social medial platforms from home. This gives me a chance to keep up to date with industry changes, training being advertised and networking with other PAs and administrative staff outside the business.
Dealing with Challenges
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? Keeping everyone happy at the same time. As with all office workers, everyone’s work is a priority; we have to learn how to juggle and cope with that pressure.
Travel planning: do your research and seek advice from others in the know
What do you most enjoy about your career? I like the variation that an administrative and PA role has to offer. I’ve been able to attend some incredible PA events, attend great training courses and have met some amazing people along the way – people who have provided support/training and mentoring when I’ve needed it.
On Saying “No”
I struggle to say no – although if it is something that I’m not happy about, I’ll probably manage to say no.
I was born in the UK. When I started work I’d say I was a City mouse, I’m now a Country mouse. I enjoy spending time with my family and I also volunteer for the Hamelin Trust.
What song or two are we likely to find you singing along to when driving, or if no one’s listening? I try and mumble along to most songs – and if I don’t know the words, I make them up.
How do you pamper or reward yourself after a tough day or week? If I’ve had a hard week, I might treat myself to a manicure or a new nail varnish. I don’t tend to go extravagant.
A dream holiday or travel adventure? A couple of years back, I spent two days in a hut on the beach in a donkey sanctuary in Cyprus. The electricity went off at around 11:00 p.m. each night. It was bliss to sit amongst the wildlife and gaze at the stars.
Education and Professional Development
Education and Professional Development: Attending PA training and conferences gave me the confidence to aim for Hays Highest Achieving PA of the Year.
Hard work and determination can be rewarded
Peer and Professional Associations: I belong to the Institute of Administrative Management and also the Global PA Association.
Preferred form(s) of social media? Twitter if I want an immediate response, Facebook if I want a reaction.
Your dream app, or software, to help you in your career? Excel! – Ditch the calculator!
Awards and Recognition
- Hays High Achieving PA of the Year – Runner Up 2013
- Hays High Achieving PA of the Year – Winner 2014
Reduce your to do list by tackling quick tasks when they’re identified
Style and Substance
What one or two cosmetics would your purse or travel bag be empty without? bare Minerals’ Mineral Veil and brush
Heels or flats? Flats
Preferred scent: Paul Smith Rose
What might we find in your desk drawer? Pencils, ruler, tissues, screwdriver
Travel or travel planning advice? When planning travel, be it personal or business, do your research and take advice from others in your industry or friends who may have visited/stayed/eaten there.
Inspirational reads? Walking Tall by Lesley Everett
Role models or mentors? I am fortunate to work in an industry where there are many people whom I would consider as role models/mentors. Each one of them has been there to support me at various times.
Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud. I’m extremely proud of my Hays Highest Achieving PA of the Year 2014 award. It proves that hard work and determination can be rewarded. I’m also chuffed that I completed my NCFE Level 2 Certificate in Equality and Diversity as it’s been a long time since I studied and I had great support from my tutor Matt at Rise Training throughout the course.
On developing your career: Never be afraid to go for it
Do you have any career goals or accomplishments on your radar for the next five years? I’d like to become involved in the training and development of administrative staff as I believe I have the knowledge and personality to do this. I’d also like to support the Hamelin Trust further – this is a charity that I work for on weekends.
What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? Never be afraid to go for it – what’s the worst thing that can happen?
Seeking promotion? Listen to those with experience, make connections and undertake training
Your most effective time management strategy? If it’s a very quick task, do it now! – Get it out of the way and off your to-do list.
Advice for new executives on how to best work with an assistant: Listen, be patient and be honest.
For those interested in promotion: Listen to people who have done the job; how did they get their roles? What training could you commence right away? Begin to make your connections now.
… and now, a note from Shelagh. Readers not familiar with some of the people and resources Julia referenced 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.