Nominated for the PA of the Year Award at last years SecsInTheCity Awards evening, Yvette Pearson is of our most established PA’s we have yet to feature on the PA Diaries series. Accomplished, energetic, passionate and with a gorgeous smile, Yvette is someone we could all learn a thing or two from when it comes to whipping people and a company into shape…
TAR: Thank you for taking the time out to do this with us, Yvette. How are you?
YP: I’m really good thank you. Super busy but it’s a really exciting time for my company
TAR: Yes! ESF! So tell us a bit more about them and your role as Office Manager for the company…
YP: Well ESF holds a majority stake in ThinCats, who just got regulated by the FCA this week.
I’ve been with them virtually from the start and have taken them through 3 office moves (one for ThinCats) and a 6-fold increase in headcount.
TAR: Woah!! I can say from first hand experience that an office move is no mean feat so to do three is outstanding! So other than being the expert in the office move department, run us through your general day to day at ESF…
YP: I get into the office and check out what meetings are going on in the day and make sure there’s a meeting room for all of them. 30 diaries can be quite challenging, but I make it work.
Sometimes it’s quiet and sometimes it’s super busy so I have to be on the ball.
I also manage the workflow for a small team of analysts so we sometimes have a quick catch up on what they are working on and what priorities there are that day.
I have regular calls with a colleague at Thincats to make sure priorities are aligned, then my day can involve anything from expenses, fixing the printer, booking travel for people in London to visit clients or the Thincats office, to project work. We are working on the whole process of the company at the moment and because I’ve been here so long, I’m heavily involved in that.
TAR: What an absolutely crucial role you have in the office. It doesn’t sound as though much would be accomplished with out you there Yvette! What would you say as an Office Manager, are your typical daily challenges in the role?
YP: My challenges are generally making sure things progress. Be that a meeting which needs presentations formatted and printed in time, or ensuring everyone has everything they need to be able to work – coffee, stationery…
It can be challenging working in such a high pressured environment with so many different people all working faster than the company as a whole can cope with at times, so I try to be a calming character in the office and assist wherever I can.
TAR: It sounds exhilarating! very challenging but keeping everyone on their toes! What would you say is the most enjoyable part of your position as Office Manager at ESF and why?
YP: I love knowing everyone in the office. I work with such amazing and lovely people who really are a joy to be around. I think most people in Office Manager positions say something about the feeling of being needed, but it’s so true. I thoroughly enjoy feeling like this company needs me. It gives me a sense of purpose when I come in every day.
‘It can be challenging working in such a high pressured environment with so many different people all working faster than the company as a whole can cope with at times, so I try to be a calming character in the office and assist wherever I can.’
TAR: Awesome! I think its amazing to be surrounded by people who truly value everything you do professionally but also as a person.
So how did you find your feet in the world of Office Management? Your career has always been in Finance but only recently have you gone more into a purely Office Management role and stepped away from the Executive and Personal Assistant positions…
YP: I used to be the PA to the CEO of ESF, John Mould. When he joined ESF he called me and asked me to join. I jumped at the chance to work with him again and so resigned from my current role almost immediately. I went in without any real understanding of the difference between an Office Manager and a Personal Assistant but I just did anything that the company and my colleagues required.
TAR: Looking back, what would you say to anyone who has the idea of changing direction in their career but maybe are hesitant in doing so?
YP: I’d first ask them to question why they are considering it in the first place. Is it because they want to do something different, or do they in fact want to work in a different environment? A change in environment can have a massive impact on how you enjoy your job.
If they want to be responsible for more/different things, I’d say that the more you think about it, the less likely you are to do it. So just go for it! If you change your career and decide it’s not for you, there’s nothing stopping you from going back.
TAR: Amazing advice! So thinking back to everything you have experienced in your career so far, what would you say has been your biggest achievement and then at the other end of the spectrum, your biggest challenge?
YP: My biggest challenge was when I had someone working for me for the first time. I am terrible at delegating so it took a lot of effort for me to let her make and learn from, her own mistakes.
‘If you change your career and decide it’s not for you, there’s nothing stopping you from going back.’
My biggest achievement was probably our office move on the day we arrived in the office we are in now. Pretty much everything went to plan, and seeing people’s faces when they saw the newly renovated office for the first time made me so proud of all the months of effort that had gone into it.
TAR: Drawing on the experience you had of delegating and learning how to manage a workload from top to bottom, how important would you say leaning that skill is? I think we’re all guilty of taking on too much sometimes but we all see it as our responsibility to complete every single task even if we know a colleague has capacity to help us…
YP: I think it’s really important to understand a whole workload because then you know how your part impacts others. A task you might think is small and meaningless is often the first thing in a whole chain of tasks. Understanding the whole process helps you learn what happens if you don’t do it.
You also have to accept that taking on everything isn’t good for any company. For starters, if you are off sick, the company still needs to function.
Also, if you can delegate some things, it frees up your time for other stuff!
TAR: So for those wanting to come in this industry fresh from university or indeed taking a change in direction perhaps from one career to one of support either as a Personal/Executive Assistant or Office Manager, what advice would you give to them?
YP: I’d tell them that taking on one of those roles is a career in itself. Whilst it can often be viewed as a stop gap of sorts, it’s a crucial function of any organisation. I would tell them that to be the best PA possible, you should understand as much as possible about your company and where your department fits into the organisation. When you know where you fit in, you understand how you make an impact.
‘I think it’s really important to understand a whole workload because then you know how your part impacts others. A task you might think is small and meaningless is often the first thing in a whole chain of tasks. Understanding the whole process helps you learn what happens if you don’t do it. ‘
TAR: And how do you feel networking among professional groups helps in terms of further personal development once established in a career?
YP: It helps in the sense that it can provide a group where you can ask for help and advice. Some PAs work alone and it can be hard to know where to turn to. It’s also a great way to vent and bounce ideas around with people who really understand what it is that you do.
TAR: And finally, looking bakc on your career to date, what would you say is the most important thing you have learnt about yourself?
‘…to be the best PA possible, you should understand as much as possible about your company and where your department fits into the organisation. When you know where you fit in, you understand how you make an impact.’
YP: The most important thing I’ve learned about myself is probably that I can do anything that I set my mind to. I’m not in this position by chance or luck (like so many of us feel a lot of the time) but because I’ve worked hard and improved my skillset at every opportunity.
TAR: Favourite book?
YP: The 10x rule.
TAR: Favourite place for your favourite cocktail?
YP: Aqua Kyoto for aperol spritz.
TAR: What does love smell like?
TAR: Ultimate power dressing combination?
YP: Pencil skirt, smart jacket, And the highest heels you can balance in!
TAR: The one phrase which gets you through a tough day?
YP: “Which bar are we going to this evening?”
TAR: Favourite restaurant?
TAR: The meaning of life is…
YP: To be happy and make those around you happy.