Making the PA Diaries section of The Assistant Room a weekly instalment has definitely come a lot sooner than I initially anticipated. It’s been a week since my chat with Emily at Wagamamas and over 300 of you have shown an interest in the musings of an Executive Assistant…interesting stuff I know! Every Friday there will be a new diary so keep a watchful eye, there are some truly amazing and inspirational people coming to The Assistant Room in the near future.
I recently caught up with the amazing Holly, currently Executive Assistant to VP Public Policy for EMEA & Director of Policy for UK, Middle East & Africa. Her career history is pretty darn impressive with Personal Assistant to the CEO and Office Manager at YO!Sushi! on her CV among other things and so as you can probably tell, I was extremely excited when she agreed to give us all a little insight into how things have gone for her so far…
J: Hi Holly, how are you? Having a great week so far I hope!
H: Hi Jess, I’m good thank-you!
J: So let’s start this off with finding out a little bit more about the role you have at Facebook…What three words would you use specifically to describe your position?
H: Manic, stressful, but also so much fun!
J: Your CV looks incredible with your previous experience as an EA at companies such as the British Transport Police, YO! Sushi! and now Facebook. Do you feel that the role of a PA is easily transferrable between different industries or have you found it challenging at times?
H: I would say a PA’s skills are very transferable, but I also think it’s important to work in a range of different industries in order to become a great PA. Throughout my career I have purposely worked in different industries so I have been exposed to so many different situations and completely different bosses, which I believe has helped me become a better PA. I feel it also helps when applying for a new job, as having experience in different industries means you have a better choice of roles available to you. I feel I have made things a lot more difficult for myself this way, but it’s definitely helped me gain a huge amount of experience that I wouldn’t have if I had stayed in one industry.
J: In your opinion, what is the greatest part of being a PA and why should that encourage more people to consider it as a career possibility?
H: I enjoy having that super close relationship with your boss, and feeling indispensable to them. I am also super organised, so love having a job where I get paid to organise other people’s lives as well as my own!
J: If you had one piece of advice for someone new to the job, what would it be?
H: Create a great relationship with your boss/bosses. Know them inside out. Know exactly how they like things done. Even down to the smallest things like how they like their diaries colour-coordinated, what they like to eat, how they like their meetings invites formatted etc, and find out what their exact expectations of you are.
J: And so far, what has been your favourite moment of the year?
H: I have just got back from a spa weekend, which was much needed after a hectic few weeks in the office!
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?
H: I work just off of Oxford Street, so I usually head to Zara, Topshop or River Island. We’re really spoilt for choice with our office location!
J: What are your top 5 handbag essentials to always be carrying?
H: My personal phone and my work phone, my corporate Amex card, Armani Luminous Silk foundation for touch-ups, Mac ‘Whirl’ lipliner and chewing gum.
J: You have a last minute private dining event to organise, where is your first point of call?
H: The Riding House Café, as it has an amazing private room, it’s really casual and informal, close by to the office, and serves great food. It also has great veggie and vegan options.
J: If you were to suggest one app that all PAs should have what would it be?
H: Concur is great for submitting expenses on the go.
J: You’ve had a long and difficult day at work, where is the first place that you go?
H: I have late calls most evenings, so going out after work isn’t really part of my lifestyle at the moment. To unwind after a long day I have a long bath with lots of oils, and pamper myself with a good face scrub and mask!
J: Who is your role model in the industry?
H: I don’t have a specific role model, but I definitely look up to those senior EA’s who are at the top of their game, but also have families. I don’t have children, but at times I find it really difficult to maintain a good work/life balance, so I really respect those that do an amazing job whilst also raising a family.
Fancy shopping Holly’s handbag essentials? Check them out below…
Lot’s of love,