PA Diaries: CVS

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How is it Easter already?? Thankfully it looks as though the dingy weather has left us, I type this as I sit outside a little French cafe on Clapham Common sipping a double machiatto, getting distracted pretty much every minute by the cutest little pooch I’ve ever laid eyes on and obviously, enjoying the rays of sunshine I have so dearly missed. Hello Spring time!! As its Good Friday and I expect you all to be doing nothing less than spending your time outdoors and not in front of your PC, I thought I would throw a little light reading your way and get together with one of my best friends Beth, currently the administrative anchor at CVS, a company focused on reducing rent and rates to London offices. Needless to say she runs a tight ship!

J: Hi Beth, how are you? Looking forward to the Easter weekend I hope!

B: Hello! Yes I am thank you, mainly looking forward to a little bit of piece and quiet and catching up on some well needed sleep.

J: My thoughts exactly! So I think it would be great if we got to find out a little bit more about your role as office manager at CVS…

B: My role is incredibly varied and all-encompassing. I manage an office of around thirty people acting as the only administrative facility so I act as reception, switchboard, office PA, facilities and anything else that is particularly officey. My day can quickly change from taking minutes in a meeting to arranging a plumber to fix a dripping sink.

J: Wow, so you really are the person keeping it all together in the office. What tips would you give anyone who is new to the PA industry in managing multiple and conflicting priorities? It sounds as though you are faced with these constantly…

B: My personal tip is always take a deep breath and have lists!! It’s so easy to get overwhelmed and the way I prevent that is keeping track of everything I have going on. My first task every morning is to write a list of the things I have planned for the day. The other thing I always remember is that it is easier to under promise and over deliver than to over promise and under deliver. When you have so many conflicting demands, stretching yourself too thin is the easiest way to land yourself in a bad situation.

J: Great advice! So, what do you find is the greatest part of being a PA/Office Manager?

B: Personally, I like the responsiblity and the control of being the go to person. People don’t realise how integral PAs/ Office Managers are. Without that function the operation wouldn’t work and it certainly wouldnt be as well organised.

J: Agreed. There seems to be a huge problem across the industry with many people not understanding how crucial this role is to organsiations. What would you say to those people?

B: I have come across this issue many times myself in my career and it may be slightly defensive, but my response is always ‘let me take annual leave for two weeks without having any cover arranged ‘and then they can judge how crucial my role is. Or alternatively let them do it themselves just for a day. It takes a certain type of person to deal with that amount of pressure.

J: And finally, the PA role has evolved so much over the past five years, what do you think is in store next for the admin professionals of the world?

B: That is a difficult question to answer. I think what were going to find is a new generation of assistant emerging, a generation that hopefully will at least be more understood but will have a much wider scope of control. What I hope for the Pa/EA role is that it becomes more respected ands a profession and lose its job status and becomes a valid career option for many future PA/EAs.

QUICKFIRE

J:You have an important meeting sprung on you last minute and have to rush out for an emergency wardrobe change, where do you go?

B: New look is my go to because its right over the road from my office.

J: What are your top 5 handbag essentials to always be carrying?

B: Phone, makeup bag, my mini essentials, Calvin Klein obsession perfume, my filofax and my tangle teaser.

J: You have a last minute private dining event to organise, where is your first point of call?

B: Hawksmoor its a winner every time, everyone loves a good hearty meal and even better wine!

J: If you were to suggest one app that all PAs should have what would it be?

B: I have the Trianline app ready and waiting at all times, its an essential.

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

B: Straight gome to run a bath and pour a large glass of red wine.

J: Who is your role model in the industry?

B: Anyone that is a private PA makes it to the top of my adoration ist.

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