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, Turkey, the USA and Wales. Today, we make our way to Exeter, Devon to visit with Rosy Painter.
My alarm goes off at 7:00 a.m., and there’s a quick check of the emails to make sure my day ahead hasn’t changed. A leisurely get ready with a cup of tea is a must before conversation starts.
I live on site so have a very short commute; I try to take the longer route to work so I get some fresh air.
At the Office
Morning Routines: I arrive first most days, so have at least half an hour to sort my emails, review my to-do list and plan my day. I also check for Twitter and LinkedIn updates if I have time before the team arrives.
Primary Responsibilities: Scheduling meetings, arranging agendas and minutes are a big part of my role. I am also involved with the HR function, including new staff inductions for Thrive Hubs and managing holiday and sickness leaves within the team. I also manage our meeting rooms and event bookings, which I love.
Working with four directors makes my role very diverse
No day is the same. I’m normally juggling 12 tasks at once! I can tell you this is not recommended. Working with four directors makes my role very diverse, with tasks thrown at me from all angles. This is the reason I get in early.
How long is your work day? The hours are supposed to be 9:00 to 5:30, but I’m always working outside those hours to get the work completed.
What might be a typical lunch? I try to get away, even if just for 20 minutes and to get a few more steps in for my Fitbit. I’ll have a quick sandwich from the local shop if someone is heading that way, or I will pop home for soup.
Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? I have emails on my phone, so am kept up to date with what is going on. I often work for an hour either side of being in the office, in order to complete outstanding tasks that need full concentration.
Dealing with Challenges
What is the most challenging aspect of your day or career? Juggling four people and the daily interruptions. I am the go to person for most things, so am forever being distracted. But this is what makes my role interesting.
The role is transferable into any business
What do you most enjoy about your career? The variety of work; I can be doing anything from furnishing an apartment to organising networking events. Also, the role is transferable into any business.
On Saying “No”
It is my job to say yes. No isn’t possible in my role, the key is managing people’s expectations: “Yes, I can write that report, but it won’t be finished until next week.”
Identify the needs of the business and offer solutions; this will help you be seen
At heart, are you a city gal or small community person (city mouse/ country mouse)? City Mouse, most definitely.
How do you like to spend time away from the office? I make my own clothes, but this is more of a winter hobby. In the summer, the beach and Dartmoor are only 20 minutes away so it’s nice to get out in the fresh air with family and friends.
How do you pamper or reward yourself after a tough day or week? A glass of wine in the pub is always a good reward after a long week, as is a bit of retail therapy.
A dream holiday or travel adventure? Sitting on a beautiful beach, reading a good book with a cocktail in hand
Education and Professional Development
I did a Secretarial and Administration course at college, which stood me in good stead for my career. The Exeter, Plymouth and Bristol PA Networks have kept me up to date with my professional development through educational seminars and meeting PAs with different backgrounds.
Peer and Professional Associations
I am part of the Exeter PA Network, which is also linked very closely to the Bristol and Plymouth networks. They are a support network of like-minded people who know exactly the frustrations and enjoyment you get as a PA. The Network is also a great way to get bosses to meet to discuss mutual business, if you know one another’s PA.
Professional associations: a support network of like-minded people who understand the frustrations and enjoyment in this career
Preferred form(s) of social media? Twitter for work, and Facebook or Instagram for personal use
Your dream app, or software, to help you in your career? A nice planner app, which is pretty and where you can jot ideas, goals and objectives down on something that isn’t a standard black and white interface
Style and Substance
What one or two cosmetics would your purse or travel bag be empty without? Clinique mascara and Rosy Lips Vaseline
Heels or flats in the office? Heels, every time. For your commute? Heels – it’s a very short commute. Favourite brands of shoes, whether you wear them or they’re on your wish list? Christian Louboutin – would love a pair!
Preferred scent: Molton Brown Pink Pepperpod or Kenzo L’eau Par Kenzo.
What might we find in your desk drawer? A spare pair of tights, clothes brush, Berocca, nail file, perfume, snacks, batteries, sewing kit, emergency wrapping paper and bows, stationery and business cards. You name it, I probably have it.
Travel or travel planning advice? I don’t organise a lot of travel but, when I do, I never book too early. Plans always change and even though prices generally go up nearer the time, it saves the hassle of changing every detail. I know of other PAs who engage travel companies to help.
Inspirational reads? James Caan’s How to Get the Job You Really Want. My Dad bought it for me at the start of my career and it has stayed with me.
Mentor Kate Gregory … has helped through challenging situations and also celebrated my career successes
Role models or mentors? Three years ago, I met Kate Gregory who is EA to the CEO at DMGI::Land&Property. She has become a great friend of mine, but also my mentor. She has helped me through some challenging situations at work and also celebrated with me my career successes. I look up to her and cannot thank her enough for the support and occasional shoulder to cry on.
Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud. I have been asked to mentor one of my PA contacts, which is a privilege. I’m pleased to know that someone values my opinion, and to be able to put everything I have learnt to good use. It is also a good excuse for me to reflect on what I have achieved personally.
Do you have any career goals or accomplishments on your radar for the next five years? I would love to become a manager of a team; this is in my sights for the next year. As well, I’d like to go into schools and promote the role of the PA. It is a job that can be found in any organisation, from private to public sector, in accountancy to the Met Office, and it can be adapted to any business.
What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? Set your goals in terms of what you want to achieve. If you don’t put them down on paper, they are less likely to happen.
If you don’t put your goals down on paper, they are less likely to happen
Your most effective time management strategy? Make lists and prioritise four or five items that need to be started/completed each day. Also, stay away from social media if you have a lot to get done; it eats time!
What are a couple of valuable early conversation topics you recommend an assistant initiate when beginning work with a new executive/principal? Find out what s/he has enjoyed during her/his career; it helps you find their focus point and what they will be most interested in.
Find out about his/her family, including birthdays and wedding anniversaries. A subtle hint the week before never goes unnoticed.
Advice for a new mother working to the workplace? I’m not a mother, but I would say get network when you can; it’s a good way to get updates on your industry and rekindle relationships with businesses and peers.
Identify needs of the business and offer solutions; this will help you be seen
If you could offer a new executive advice on how to best capitalise on having an assistant, and working together, what would that be? Take time to find out about your assistant’s background and what connections s/he has. Previous experience could do wonders for the executive. Also, spend time to find out what s/he is capable of; it could save a lot of headaches.
For those interested in promotion: Have the conversation with your manager. If s/he is unaware of your aspiration, s/he can’t help you.
Also, identify needs of the business and offer solutions; this will help you be seen.
… and now, a note from Shelagh. Readers not familiar with some of the people and resources Rosy mentioned may be interested in checking the following links. 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.