This month we speak with Dominique, who has spent time working in Dubai and Barcelona, as well as London. She is currently supporting the busy CEO at a Global Risk Management and Security Consultancy, where she was placed by Oriel Partners.
We asked Dominique 10 questions to find out what she enjoys the most about her role and how she got to where she is today.
1. What do you enjoy the most about being a PA?
I have OCD which makes me an organised person, taking that and putting in to my work is just second nature for me. I also love the working relationships you can make with the people you support. It can also be a good feeling when you are the go to person in the company for information and on how things work, makes you feel really involved within that business.
2. Tell us what it is like working in your current industry?
I never expected to actually work within my current industry , although as a child it was always in my interest. It does mean I have to be confidential in everything I do, more than usual. Every company expects a certain level of confidentiality but this is an industry that you have to really make sure nothing is leaked. Even receiving daily phone calls in to the office, you have to question them and get as much information as you can before you can even put them through to the relevant team. It is good fun and the company itself look after each other like a small family which is nice.
3. What are the biggest challenges in your role?
The biggest challenges I would say is making sure that the jobs coming in are constantly up to date with notes and the communication levels are consistent. It's highly important to maintain the working relationships with our partners and their clients. Also I would say managing the CEO’s diary as he spends 9:00 until 20:00 in meetings every single day and most days they are back to back, so trying to reduce that so he has time to eat can be challenging at times.
4. How did you become a PA?
I have always been very organised to extreme levels but struggled to find a role that actually showed my strengths until I moved to Dubai. I started off as a relationship manager in a wealth management company, I was cold calling a lot but mainly organising my advisers diary and meetings. Once the CEO saw my strengths he decided to put them to better use, his company was growing and he needed help with his diary and working life. After a few months I was learning more skills within the role and then everything just naturally became second nature. I was grateful for getting that opportunity as I have continued to grow as a personal assistant and can’t see myself doing anything else.
5. What advice would you give to someone looking to start their PA career?
I would just say that the most efficient way is to listen and ask questions, once you establish how your boss likes things done you will naturally find other ways to do the same tasks in less time. Every person/company that you PA for you will pick up different skills and ways of doing things, and also do not get frustrated if you feel you aren’t bonding with your boss straight away as these things can take time. Just ask questions and write everything down. I also find having daily to do lists really help, it means you don’t miss the important tasks that need doing asap and also enables you to keep track on what you have completed and what is outstanding.
6. What couldn’t you live without in your daily role?
Excel spreadsheets and sticky note pads! I swear by both of these as they keep me in check with my outstanding tasks and make sure I don’t miss anything out. Especially when I stick them around my computer so I can’t miss anything at all, once the tasks complete the sticky note gets removed.
7. What is the best career advice you have ever been given?
The best advice I have ever been given, I would have to say “Listen, write & repeat”. That has really been my go to in every meeting , it means I understand what is being asked , I have everything written down so I don’t forget or miss anything out and repeating it makes sure that again nothing is missed and can also jot the other persons memory and new things can be added.
8. What is your biggest professional achievement?
To me an achievement isn’t about who I have impressed or how high I have reached in a company, but being able to maintain great relationships with all my previous bosses. I kept a stable job for 5 years in Dubai and then nearly 2 years in London and have remained in contact with everyone and still get invited to all social events. This gives me a sense of achievement, this shows I not only worked hard at the job but also at the working relationships.
9. When you are not at work, what do you enjoy doing?
I enjoy a good meal and a social drink with friends, but I also enjoy cooking myself. I like to keep fit at my local gym and often travel as much as I possibly can. I recently started to teach myself how to bake and I am now looking in to potentially learning a language.
10. What is the hardest interview question you have ever been asked?
I would have to say the question about what it is like working in my industry as I really can’t give anything away, so it is hard being vague and brief when you are trying to give an insight. I just hope that I said enough, but not too much.