We are going to kick off our PA diary with Charlotte, who graduated in 2012 with a law degree and started her career working in recruitment. Focusing on Personal Assistant and administrative roles, Charlotte worked on the temp desk of two boutique firms, working across all industry sectors and then she decided she wanted to move away from sales and focus on the support route for herself!
Charlotte is now in a one-on-one EA role supporting a busy Managing Partner at an executive search firm where no two days are the same providing a first class service to him in a global role.
We asked Charlotte 10 questions to find out what she enjoys the most about her role and how she got to where she is today.
Q1 - What do you enjoy the most about being a PA?
Organising my boss’ life and being integral to his success. I love that every day is different, which gives me variety to my day and things can change so quickly, so I always need to be on my game, ready to react to changes.
Q2 - Tell us what it is like working in your current industry?
Executive search, much like recruitment has its highs and lows. My boss has the opportunity to travel extensively and meet some fantastic clients. This also gives me great exposure to the people and projects he is working on, and I love that I can get involved in the process.
Q3 - What are the biggest challenges in your role?
I can be a perfectionist and sometimes getting it right all the time just isn’t possible. Another challenge I face is that I like to work quickly, relying on other people (usually PA’s) for a response to things can be frustrating when I’m scheduling 15-20 meetings a week and figuring out the travel times between them. That’s why I love working with PA’s who will pick up their phones... it makes the job so much faster and means we can build rapport which can be key for my boss' success at meeting someone important as I can sometimes swing times and meetings in his favour if I have a good relationship with the client's PA.
Q4 - How did you become a PA?
I started my career recruiting Temp PA’s across finance and then across all industries. Some of the stories I heard when I met candidates were fantastic and it always piqued my interest!
After I left my final recruitment role, I went and met a secretarial recruitment agency and explained that I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but needed to pay my rent. I offered myself as a Temp/Contractor as I had no experience as a PA aside from organising my own meetings with my clients and some transferable skills, so I started covering the end of a maternity role at an executive search firm which led to being made permanent.
I’ve landed on my feet at the executive search firm I now work for, again covering a maternity contract, going off to have my own baby and now returning to support the boss I have now 1:1.
Q5 - What advice would you give to someone looking to start their PA career?
Take any opportunity that comes your way. If it means staying later, putting yourself out there to volunteer to help others (particularly those more senior to you) then do it! Willing, professional and helpful people rarely get overlooked as people know your name within the business and know you for your flexibility and fantastic work ethic.
Q6 - What couldn’t you live without in your daily role?
My diary! I have an A4 paper one I scribble all my notes in and write my daily to do lists in.
Q7 - What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
Never be afraid to ask questions, but when you get the answer, write it down so you don’t need to ask again!
Q8 - What is your biggest professional achievement?
Relocating my boss to a new country in 48 hours.
Q9 - When you are not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
Spending time with my son and boyfriend and going for walks on Primrose Hill.
Q10 - What is the hardest interview question you have ever been asked?
Anything competency based! But fortunately I have a great relationship with my recruitment agency, Oriel Partners, and they are always on hand to help me prepare thoroughly if I ever need their support.
Being with the right agency when you are job hunting is so important in ensuring they are representing you appropriately, but also if they have great relationships with their clients and understand the process, then they can advise you accordingly which will allow you to get the best results.