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 Basingstoke, England to visit with Stephanie Fryer.
Tea, and A Variable Commute
The time I get up can vary depending on which office I am working from – 6:15 a.m. if I am working in Richmond, and 7:15 (Yay, an extra hour in bed!) if I am working in Hook. Tea is a must for me in the morning – there is nothing better than a milky tea.
I drive to work; it’s a 1.5 hour drive to the Richmond office, and a lovely 20 minute drive to the Hook office! Who or what is on your commuting playlist? I’m a pop girl at heart – CDs in the car at the moment are Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson and The Shires.
At the Office
Morning Routines: I check my emails as soon as I wake up, so I know what will be a priority when I get into the office. First things first: make a cup of tea and check voicemails / emails, make a list and get going!
Primary Responsibilities: My primary responsibility is to look after our CEO and anticipate anything she may need so that she can go about her day as effectively as possible. Is there such a thing as a typical day? It would be emails, diary scheduling, booking flights and being on hand for anything that may come up.
How long is your work day? I work from 8:30 – 5:30, with a lovely 2:30 p.m. finish on a Friday!
What might be a typical lunch? Where do you eat? I would love to say I’m super healthy and eat a salad, but it’s usually soup or a sandwich. We have great canteens at our sites, so the occasional ham and cheese toasty might creep in there!
Do you work from home in your “off” hours, or during your commute? I keep an eye on emails during the evening – you never fully switch off, but work-life balance is important.
What do you most enjoy about your career? I love being an EA. It’s a great career and one I really enjoy – you get to be involved in lots of different parts of the business and you know that, by being good at your job, you are helping your manager to be even better at hers/his.
You can take something away from even the most negative of work experiences
On Saying “No”
I’m not the best at saying no, but I am working on it! I try and set realistic time frames for other people so that, if I agree to help them, they know it’s not top of my list but that I will get to it as soon as I can.
I was born in Portsmouth and I now live in Basingstoke with my husband. I love going into London but I love living out in the country! Away from the office, I love Zumba, lunch dates with friends and spending time with my husband.
What song or two are we likely to find you singing along to when driving, or if no one’s listening? Anything 90s pop!
How do you pamper or reward yourself after a tough day or week? After a tough day, chocolate and Grey’s Anatomy usually help! For a pamper, I love getting a massage or a facial.
A dream holiday or travel adventure? South America is on my bucket list!
Education and Professional Development
Education: Networking internally and externally has helped to develop my career. I have been to some amazing EA conferences in California and New York, and I always take what I learn back to the office and apply it to the way I work.
Time management: make a list, get a cup of tea, and work your way through
Peer and Professional Associations: I am part of several EA / PA groups on LinkedIn, and I follow lots of inspirational EAs / PAs on Twitter. It’s a great way to virtually connect with like minded people.
Preferred form(s) of social media? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn … and I could lose hours on Pinterest!
Your dream app, or software, to help you in your career? One that could tell you what your boss was thinking – that way, you would always be ahead of the game!
Awards and Recognition
Does Employee of the Quarter count (smiles)? No professional awards yet, but there is still lots of time!
Network with others in different departments within your business
Style and Substance
What one or two cosmetics would your purse or travel bag be empty without? L’Occitane hand cream and Mac lipstick
Heels or flats for the office? Heels. For your commute? Flats. Favourite brands of shoes, whether you wear them or they’re on your wish list? Carvela – I wore the most amazing sparkly pair at my wedding.
Preferred scent: Marc Jacobs’ Daisy
What might we find in your desk drawer? Snacks, Post-its, pens, scissors, a stapler and one of many Paperchase notebooks!
Travel planning: Check reviews, use an agent and seek insights from an EA in the intended location
Travel or travel planning advice? I always use Trip Advisor to check on hotels when I am planning personal travel. I do the same for business, but I also connect with the EA in that location to see what s/he would recommend. Also for business travel, use a good agency! We use Blue Cube Travel and it makes life so much easier.
Inspirational reads? I have a pile of business books that are on my list to read, but I am currently reading Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office, which is great.
Role models or mentors? I have worked for some amazing women in my career – strong, smart career women who have inspired me, especially Sally Revell, who is now the Director of Consumer Marketing at Philips.
Take on projects that will help raise your profile
Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud. At my last company I used to run the We Care and Give Back program that enabled employees to volunteer in the communities in which we live and work. This was a highlight for me, and I was nominated at the London PA awards for the Philanthropic Activist award.
Do you have any career goals or accomplishments on your radar for the next five years? I’ve recently started to write my own blog, called Heart of the Office, which is aimed at other admin. professionals – I am hoping it will gain a large following and also help me to connect with other EAs in the industry. I am currently working on content, so look out for it when it’s live on my Twitter profile!
What bit of insight would have been most helpful to you in the early stages of your career? You learn something from everyone you work for – you can take something away from even the most negative of work experiences.
You learn something from everyone you work for
Your most effective time management strategy? I live my life by lists; I have one for everything. Make a list, get a cup of tea, and work your way through.
Advice for new executives on how to best work with an assistant: There is no such thing as too much information! Sit down with your assistant and go through everything there is to know about you – from your favourite sandwich to how you like your presentations. It will make your EA effective quickly. And always say thank you!
Build a good reputation
For those interested in promotion: Network within your business, get to know different departments, and take on projects that will help raise your profile.
It is also important to build a good reputation at work, and always be nice to people! Not only are you representing your boss, but you never know who you will need to call on for a last minute emergency! Having those relationships in place makes it so much easier and is a nicer way to work.
… and now, a note from Shelagh. Readers not familiar with the title Stephanie referenced may be interested in checking the following link. 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.