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 to Essex, England to visit with Karen Glenn.
A Flexible PA
The start to my work day depends on where I am working – if I am going into the office, then I am up at 5:30 a.m. and then leave as close to 6:00 as I can. If I am in London, then I am up at 6:00 a.m. and leaving at 6:45 for the train – if I am working from home, I usually get up around 6:30.
On working from home days, I always get washed and dressed first then make a cup of tea before going into my study to work. I like to start early as it gives me some quality time without any interruptions from anyone and I get loads done during that couple of hours. My boss is also an early bird, so I find that it works really well for us both. I always like to check Twitter, especially if I am commuting, to see if there are any disruptions on the roads or trains.
If I am going in to the office I have around a one hour drive, which I why I like to get in early to miss the motorway traffic – then when I working in the office I leave early to miss the traffic on the way home.
What song or two are we likely to find you singing along to when driving, or if no one’s listening? When I am in the car you can usually find me singing along to James Bay or Sam Smith or rocking out to Foo Fighters.
At the Office
Morning Routines: My routine when in the office is to fire up the laptop, check for any text messages or voicemail messages from my boss, check the post tray and make myself some porridge and tea. The office is usually pretty quiet at 7:00 a.m.
Primary Responsibilities: My role is pretty varied. I could be arranging some international travel, viewing venues for meetings or events, working on a confidential project, or booking meetings for my boss and her executive team; the list is endless. At the moment I am in the final stages of planning for a team meeting of around 50 people, which is going to include some company updates, an energizing interactive session, and some team awards followed by some team fun time at the end of the day.
One typical aspect is the early morning call each day with my boss, unless she is overseas on business or at a conference. Apart from that, I don’t have a “typical day”.
Maintain a healthy work/life balance; volunteering is a great way to give back
How long is your work day? This all depends on where I am working, but generally it can be from 7:00 a.m. through to 6:00 p.m. when I find I can switch off. It all depends on the needs of my boss. I am very lucky as she knows the importance of having a healthy work/ife balance, so if she feels it is time for me to switch off she tells me.
What might be a typical lunch? Where do you eat? If working in London, then I will grab something to eat wherever the meeting is – if in the office, I will either pop down to the canteen in the building to see what they have or pop over to M&S opposite the office and pick up a sarnie/salad.
Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? If I am on the train into London, I will check the emails on the train and reply to anything that is urgent. Once I get home, I check my emails to see if anything needs to be dealt with urgently.
Dealing with Challenges
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? The most challenging aspect is the pace at which the business works. It is really fast paced, trying to get time in other peoples’ calendars is a real challenge – you really have to work some magic at times.
Understand your priorities and respond to requests accordingly
On Saying “No”
It is important to say no, especially if you have a huge workload – all of which will be a priority with tight deadlines. There are ways of saying it; I usually explain that I am under some time constraints with some strict deadlines to get things completed, and as they have usually come from my boss they are my priority.
There are thoughtful ways to say no
I explain that I would love to help, but can only help the person once I have cleared down my current list of activities – it really does depend on what they are after as it could be something that some other team member could help them with. In that case, I would direct them to the relevant person.
I was born in Essex in the UK and now live a small village, still in Essex. I love living in the countryside and equally enjoy going into the busy cities – but my heart will always be in the countryside.
I volunteer at a local youth group for primary school age children (ages between 7-12). It is great to give something back to the local community and they are a great bunch of kids at the youth group. We have recently revamped our garden, so I enjoy spending time there (when the sun is shining). I also like going to the cinema and having some girlie time with my teenage daughter.
What song or two are we likely to find you singing along to when driving, or if no one’s listening? I have been caught singing along in the car to Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. It always puts me in a great mood for the start of the day (especially if held up in traffic on the motorway).
A dream holiday or travel adventure? My dream holiday destination would be Bora Bora … but I would have to take my phone to keep up with all that is happening in social media.
Preferred form(s) of social media? Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, LinkedIn
Style and Substance
Preferred scent: I love Flowerbomb by Viktor and Rolph.
What might we find in your desk drawer? Spare laptop chargers, spare phone chargers, plastic cutlery, nail file, scissors, spare memory sticks
On travel planning: Ensure Wi Fi is a standard inclusion
Travel or travel planning advice? My boss has a French passport, so if she is travelling internationally I check if any visas are required for her, I like to check hotel reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, a must for the hotel room is wi fi as a standard inclusion. If she is doing lots of travelling, then comfort for her is really important.
Awards and Recognition
I was a finalist in Executive PA Magazine’s 2014 awards for Best Organised Event, a finalist in the Pitmans Super Achievers PA of the Year in 2015 and am currently shortlisted in the 2015 We Are The City Rising Star awards in the PA/EA category. It is great being able to raise the profile of our roles.
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