PA Diaries: Belstaff

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Founded in 1924, Belstaff remains to this day as simply one of the best of the best when it comes to British Heritage brands. With a product range that has developed over the years, Belstaff has gone from luxury sportswear  to womens and mens ready to wear, outerwear, handbags and shoes with a focus on an instantly recognisable aesthetic to all of their products creating not just a fashion brand but a lifestyle brand, pretty impressive stuff ey!

As with any luxury brand, the ad campaigns that Belstaff coordinate are knockout and have previously featured some of our most drooled over men looking even more dapper than we thought even possible. With a brand that is so obviously loved by Demi-Gods such as David Beckham, naturally only the most talented people can be behind the scenes and so it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you all to Kelly, Senior Executive Assistant to Global CEO of Belstaff. With an impressive career spanning the music, PR and fashion industry, Kelly has a wealth of experience in supporting the most senior members of the organisations she has been a part of dare I say a career that most people would give their left arm for. Keep reading for words of wisdom that will keep you going through those last Friday hours…

J: Hi Kelly, I know that we have spoken for quite a while about featuring you on the PA Diaries so I’m over the moon that we have finally managed to make it happen!

K: Thanks for having me!

J: Before we start getting down to the nitty gritty I know that everyone would love to get a good idea as to what the mammoth job of Senior Executive Assistant to the CEO at Belstaff entails and what the difference is between an EA and senior EA…

K: The main difference between the Senior EA and the EA is budget management for the London HQ, the level that you support at and some managerial responsibility for our security and office teams. Our CEO expects me to train new EA’s and to be a port of call for them if they need help/guidance. We don’t have a hierarchy within the EA team at Belstaff, we all muck in, but if there is a decision to be made about how we do things, or where we spend money, it would be down to me to decide.

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J: Obviously with such a bonkers busy role, no two days can be the same and I imagine that you are always doing a million things at once. What would you say is the most enjoyable part of your job and why?

K: I love being busy. I find I work better when I am spinning a million plates. I come from a Media background so enjoy a fast pace. Although Belstaff is slightly calmer (unless it’s fashion week!) it keeps me on my toes. I love the variety of an EA role. One day you could be in meeting after meeting, or planning an around the globe trip in 24 hours….the next on a plane to Milan to run an event.

‘I was once asked to source a square of real grass for my boss to put their bare feet on as it was raining outside and being  inside was creating a block in their creative process’

J: Managing the expectations of anyone can be a challenge sometimes however it is something that we all know comes with PA territory. We don’t only have to meet expectations but exceed them tenfold. What advice would you give to someone who is brand new to this concept?

K: Always stay calm. One of my previous bosses called me the swan because no matter what, I was always calm on the surface, even if under the ‘water’ I was kicking to keep up! I’ve worked for some pretty interesting characters over the last 10 years and some of the requests that have been thrown my way would be enough to send people crazy. I was once asked to source a square of real grass for my boss to put their bare feet on as it was raining outside and being  inside was creating a block in their creative process. Yes….really!

J: Being a PA is different for all of us and can change from one day to another. What does being a PA mean to you?

K: For me it’s about taking pride in your work, being one step ahead, being digitally savvy and providing seamless support to the person you work for. It’s also about breaking the stigma of being a PA. While the role still entails lots of the traditional elements, like diary management and admin, it’s evolved into much more. I like to think I represent the future of modern PA’s. People imagine we just file our nails at our desks all day long, but in reality, we are running board level projects, itineraries that would make your eyes water, being our bosses eyes and ears and making sure our bosses don’t have to sweat the small stuff. One of my EA colleagues here at Belstaff once said to me ‘I like that we are the underdogs’…and I agree, people often don’t know the power of a PA!

‘People imagine we just file our nails at our desks all day long, but in reality, we are running board level projects, itineraries that would make your eyes water, being our bosses eyes and ears and making sure our bosses don’t have to sweat the small stuff…’

J: When looking back at your career so far, what would you say is your biggest achievement?

K: I’d say two things – one, was being nominated in the EA awards in 2015. It was great to have some recognition for my work. And two, remaining cool, calm and collected in the face of some incredibly difficult people/situations. It takes a lot sometimes!

J: And likewise, your biggest challenge?

K: Moving industry was hard. I’ve always been in Media/Music/Creative – and although fashion sort of fits into those boxes, it’s a totally different beast!

J: And so far, what has been your greatest moment of 2016?

K: At the end of last year, I found 10 ex-Belstaff factory workers and arranged an afternoon tea with them in Stoke On Trent to hear all of their tales about Belstaff in the early days. It was such a lovely experience.

Quick Fire

J: You have a last minute private dining event to organise, what is your number one venue?

K: I’m a huge fan of East London, so I would probably say Bistroteque, it has a gorgeous blank canvas of a space, so you can really make it want you want. But for something a bit more high end in central, I would use Fera at Claridges or Pollen Street Social.

J: If there was one app you couldn’t live without what would it be?

K: Headbox – it’s a great tool for sourcing venues. It’s saved me on many occasions! And also, GPDQ, a great new app to provide doctors all over London within the hour. Very handy for anyone working for private clients.

J: You’ve had a long and difficult day at work, where is the first place that you go?

K: Probably home! Or out to eat with my boyfriend. Flesh and Buns is a firm favourite.

J: What would you say is your biggest guilty pleasure?

K: Reality TV (don’t judge me!) and spending hours reading food reviews.

J: What is your favourite famous quote?

K:  “What matters most is how well you walk through the fire.” Charles Bukowski

J: Who is your inspiration?

K: My mum. She’s a trooper!

You can check out all of the sartorial wonders Belstaff has to offer here http://www.belstaff.co.uk

Have a lovely weekend guys and look forward to seeing you all again at The Assistant Room soon!

Lot’s of love,

Jess x