The story of my PA-EA-VA career
The role of a Personal Assistant or Executive Assistant is a hugely rewarding and varied role.
Long gone are the days of when the role was purely a secretarial one, the modern PA/EA is a strategic partner in any business. Yes, we undertake traditional tasks such as minute taking, but we also prepare high level business documentation, manage teams, deliver training and development and are confidants to the senior leaders of organisations.
My PA-EA-VA career has been quite a journey!
My first role as a Personal Assistant was for a small manufacturing company. My days involved diary management; arranging meetings and visits with customers and suppliers in Europe, the USA and China; project management and logistics. I travelled to local ports to see in our shipments, catalogue them and approve them for onward sending to our customers.
My next role was as the Executive Assistant to the Chairman and Chief Executive of a regional ambulance service. I supported the Chief Executive and Chairman with their meetings, diary and email management and was also the Board Secretary. This included preparing the cycles of business for the Board of Directors monthly meetings one year in advance ensuring that all mandatory and regulatory areas of business were covered. I also arranged all of the monthly Board Meetings and Seminars as well as weekly Director Meetings and gathered and published the agendas, papers and minutes of these. Furthermore, I was also the Business Manager for a team of Executive Assistants and Personal Assistants which involved a lot of co-ordination, office management, HR and training, running team meetings, ensuring continuing CPD and managing the flow of information from the Directors Meetings to the team so everyone knew what they needed to know (whilst also maintaining confidentiality of other areas). As well as this, I also line managed the main reception in our headquarters and the Executive Office Apprentice and arranged our four annual award ceremonies! As a team, we worked incredibly closely together and got on extremely well. Sometimes you hear that offices of women can be difficult, but I can honestly say that working with this team was was the most fun I have ever had (I’m a bit bah humbug when it comes to Christmas so it took some cajoling for this shot to happen!).
My latter role as an Executive Assistant was for a family business making adhesives and we had an onsite manufacturing plant. I provided PA support for the Managing Director but was also a Line Manager and Office Manager, supporting Sales, Customer Services, Procurement, R&D, Warehouse and Production, Accounts and Marketing! I arranged training across the organisation including first aid and forklift, drafted and introduced an induction programme, prepared induction leaflets and staff welcome packs, created and distributed sales folders and literature, created and managed the company LinkedIn page, liaised with recruitment companies and managed the recruitment campaigns introducing road-side banner advertising and use of Indeed, I also facilitated meetings with customers and suppliers, arranged catering and site visits.
After many years of being told that I should start my own business, I launched as a Virtual Assistant in October 2015. Whilst there are a huge number of similarities with my PA and EA roles, there are also many differences. I am responsible for my daily workload; I am responsible for meetings, marketing and networking; I am responsible for my website and social media engagement. I also get to decide what I do, and with whom which is hugely exciting and rewarding. I get to choose which businesses and business owners I want to work with and I am also responsible for the success (or failure) of my business. This is a challenge which can be slightly daunting at times but is mostly hugely exciting. Every day brings the opportunity to meet new people, do new things and learn something new to make either my business, or some else’s, a success.
The last few years have been pretty amazing in that my team has rapidly grown from being ‘just’ me to a team of eleven, and winning many VA awards – most recently UK Outstanding VA for the second year (2019 and 2020). Still so humbled by this recognition.
I have had a lot of fun and have thoroughly enjoyed my career so far. I’d like to hear about your time as a PA, EA or VA and what you love about what you do!