PA Diaries: Janice Parker, SecsInTheCity Social Networking PA of the Year

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Kicking off the first PA Diaries of 2017 we have Janice Parker, winner of the SecsintheCity Social Networking PA of the Year award for 2016! If there was any need for a bit of inspiration to kick those January blues after a very busy and booze filled festive period, this is the perfect article for you! Without further ado, sit back, take 5 this Friday afternoon and meet PA extraordinaire JP!

TAR: Hey Janice! Happy New Year! So SO excited to have you featured as our first PA extraordinaire for 2017, you certainly have one killer CV under your belt!

JP: Happy New Year to you as well Jess! I’m excited to be involved! I try to keep my career interesting!

TAR: Interesting I would say is the perfect word! You have worked across the sports, hospitality, tech and recruitment industries. The variety is amazing! How easily would you say it is to adapt the PA role across multiple industries and more specifically how have you dealt with those transitions?

JP: In my experience it has been quite an easy transition across each industry I have worked within as with most assistants, our skills are transferable. While we won’t know everything when we start a new role (as much as we would like to!), it comes down to have a thirst for knowledge and immersing yourself into your new organisation, learning as much as possible in the first days and weeks. I am lucky that I have always worked for bright,  intelligent and interesting execs who are delighted to teach me what they know. Plus I love to read so will research my company and industry on LinkedIn or via the news in my spare time!

TAR: I completely agree and think that most of us would also champion the idea that PA’s are not the typical Bubbles from Ab Fab. We are able to mould our experience and knowledge to fit pretty much any organisation once we have those skills completely locked down! If you were to focus on the three most important skills for those who are new to the industry to concentrate on, what would those be?

JP: Most definitely not! I am very glad that we are slowly shaking off some of the stereotypes of our profession! It will sound cliché though the first one is to be organised and I believe that any assistant worth their money needs to have this skill. In our roles we are juggling many plates, conflicting priorities and different people competing for our attention, so much that we need to be able to stay on top of it all without letting any of those plates drop! Second is to be flexible; at a conference I heard it described that as assistants we have our to-do lists which regularly are thrown up in the air, will land back down in a different order and we will be expected to run with the new set of priorities for that day; it’s important to be able to adapt to this. Lastly I think it is about being authentic and true to your personality; I am an Aussie who speaks too quickly and loves to have a chat with my boss, colleagues and clients. If I was trying to be anyone different, it would come across in my interactions and conversations wouldn’t feel as meaningful to those I engage with.

TAR: So…be organised, be adaptive and be yourself! Amazing advice and let’s definitely keep shaking those stereotypes off!

JP: Exactly!

TAR: So Odgers Berndston! A company known extremely well in the city for being the best of the best in Executive recruitment!  I think most of us will have had interactions with someone from the company over the past few years whether that’s dealing with the appointment of a new Board member or even interviewing for a PA role! I actually temped for a while at Odgers back when Hanover Square was their HQ and LOVED it! In your current position as EA to Partner and Global Head of Procurement & Supply Chain Practice, what does your role involve?

JP: Oh I’m glad to hear you enjoyed working for our company! It is a fantastic place to work and I have a great boss and team! My role has two elements to it in that the first part is what we would know most assistants to do; looking after inboxes, diary management, organising travel, events and business development. The second part is that all of our assistants project coordinate each of our client searches from start to end – this can involve client/candidate scheduling, organising invoicing, booking complex travel arrangements across the world, fielding any number of queries relating to the role and client. Now if you times this by however many are active (some of us can have between 10-18 active searches) and are all at different stages in the process, this is really where the organisational skills are important! I also have become involved in wider company projects so it keeps me busy!

TAR: Wow! So to avoid the cliche ‘no two days are the same’ but in keeping with the role that you have, it really is a diverse environment which changes on a daily basis!

JP: Oh most definitely! Just today I am scheduling candidate interviews, writing an article for our CSR team, looking at a few of our upcoming events and finalising details for our upcoming corporate rowing challenge for charity!

TAR: Amazing!! What would you say is your biggest achievement over your career and in addition your biggest achievement at Odgers?

JP: My biggest achievement for my career was winning the SecsintheCity Social Networking PA of the Year award for 2016! I had made one of my goals for last year to enter an industry award as part of pushing myself outside of my comfort zone and never expected to win, especially as the other candidates in my category are amazingly talented assistants who I admire from my networking. My proudest achievement at Odgers has been the introduction of an informal internal EA/PA network within the organisation to allow our assistants opportunities to connect with others outside of their teams. We hold quarterly breakfasts where we bring in internal and external guest speakers; we are still in the process of building wider company support though now we have a great core group of assistants who attend each one!

TAR: A huge congratulations on winning the award! Going back to earlier in our chat I really feel that a big part of breaking the stereotypes attached to a PA role is definitely to challenge yourself to go to places you never have done before and the  opportunity that we have to showcase those new abilities via awards is amazing! Again, a huge congratulations from us all here at The Assistant Room! Likewise with your achievements internally at Odgers, encouraging PA’s and EA’s to develop their own network is a fantastic opportunity and one which I am so happy to hear has been so well received by your colleagues!

JP: Thanks Jess! I always try to “educate” my colleagues and friends as to what our roles really do entail and I believe most of them know how much hard work we put in day in and day out!

Quick Fire

TAR: Your ultimate power dressing brand?

JP: It is an Australian brand called Cue. They have some amazing work dresses with a bit of a funky twist to them! I’ll be stocking up next time I am back home!

TAR: Most trusted venue for a last minute private dining event?

JP: I haven’t booked too many recently though find the team at the Royal Exchange to be very helpful and as a bonus, they are close to our office

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

JP: I book a massage to have at home, it is one of my indulgences!

TAR: The number 1 app you couldnt live without?

JP: Citymapper hands down! It was one of the first recommendations I received upon moving to London and I use it almost daily to get around for myself as well as my boss. Even better, it is in most of the major cities across Europe so very helpful for when I regularly travel

TAR: Biggest guilty pleasure?

JP: Spending money on high heels that I only wear in the office (don’t tell my husband!). I recently had a pair made in purple suede and they are just divine!

TAR: Your biggest inspiration?

JP: I have several professionally though the biggest in my life is my oldest sister. She is someone who I see as having it all and being able to manage so well with a fulltime career, young daughter (another on the way) and active social life. She has progressed her career to heights she never thought possible and I hope to do half of what she has one day

TAR: And finally…your favourite go to quote that picks you up when things get tough?

JP: “You only live once” – this has become my mantra with most decisions that scare me or make me nervous such as moving to another country, entering the award etc. What’s the worst that can happen? If you fail, you can say that at least you gave it a chance!

I think everyone would agree that JP is one heck of a person and my chat with her was an amazing experience! Have an amazing weekend from all of us at The Assistant Room!

Jess x