This PA Diaries has been a long time coming! When establishing The Assistant Room team I wanted to bring together a group of amazing people with different skills and different experiences in a wide variety of industries. My first port of call was to look through my long list of industry contacts and also at those who had featured in The PA Diaries up until that point. It was then that The Assistant Room team was born. The only person missing until today in this mix of incredibly passionate and inspiring PA’s was Jessica Moretti.
Jessica and I both met at an evening spent at the Alain Ducasse restaurant at The Dorchester in the Summer of 2016, organised by Jess…of course! We made an instant connection not only in our common ground as PA’s to the HNW but also in our determination to stretch ourselves beyond the normal day job and become more than just a PA. It was this sense of entreprenurialship that made Jess the final piece of puzzle and I now class her as one of my best friends, someone I can rely on without question or hesitation and someone I think you will all agree on that has enthusiasm for our industry in a way that you are only born with. Her level of passion cannot be acquired and it is not a trait that can be learnt. Introducing you all to my one and only, Italian beauty…Jessica!
TAR: Well, well, well…fancy seeing you here Jessica Moretti! As the last remaining member of The Assistant Room team to be featured in the PA Diaries series we should both be ashamed of ourselves that it has taken SO long to get this in the diary…
JM: Well thank you for having me! It’s been a busy few months though as you know!
TAR: Always! So, let’s pretty much jump straight into an introduction to those who didn’t know you before your re-birth with The Assistant Room…
JM: I am Jess Moretti, EA to Ian Neale, CEO of Quintessentially Travel and Alexandra Sloboda, Global Director of Servicing and Operations for Quintessentially Lifestyle. I started in 2010 as an intern and made my way up from there. I started looking after Ian in 2011 and after six years we are a true force to be reckoned with. I’m so lucky that I work for a company that encourages your goals and pushes you to be the best you can be.
TAR: Wow! An intern! Looking back, was it always your intention when beginning your career with Q to be where you are now? Or to even be there for longer than a few years as is so common in the PA world these days?
JM: I started off in hospitality and actually knew one of the Directors at Quintessentially. He recommended that I do an internship as he saw that I shared the same passion as most of the people that work at Q. As you know, internships are mostly unpaid so I worked in the evening and weekends at a bar. I really wanted to work at Q and threw myself into anything that would allow me to learn new skills.
Q is very fast paced and always evolving. Everyday is different so you never get bored. It may also sound corny but we are a big massive family. Over the six years, I have been involved in many projects such as organising exhibitions and speaking at conferences about the recognition of today’s amazing PAs and of course the fantastic Assistant Room! Ian and Alexandra always give their blessing on anything that will allow me to develop.
TAR: It sounds like a dream! A lot of people who are outsiders looking in always seem to be very misunderstood about how much it takes to become an established PA. Blood, sweat and tears is probably what we would all agree is what it takes to be successful in this industry! Bearing that in mind, what advice would you give a newbie PA wanting to get to the top of the career and be in a similar situation to the one that you find yourself in at Q?
‘Over the six years, I have been involved in many projects such as organising exhibitions and speaking at conferences about the recognition of today’s amazing PAs and of course the fantastic Assistant Room!’
JM: I think people still think that the PA is a little Secretary Miss Moneypenny type. That is couldn’t be further from the truth. There are so many skills that are needed for different industries for example, I cannot touch type and my excel skills are just average however the value I bring to the table is my ability to network and make great relationships, solution solving instantly and memory for the tiniest of details. I know my bosses goals and what they want to achieve, so I make that happen. Ian often calls me his Strategic Business Partner as I will always tell him the truth and give my opinion on everything. I think if you are a proactive go getter that can think fast and get the job done, then you are half way there.
TAR: Amazing advice and I agree with absolutely everything! So the day job…looking after two people who are very senior at Q I imagine can be a tough boat to keep afloat. How do you manage to keep an even balance of priorities between them both?
JM: I’m actually quite bad at balancing everything as I don’t prioritise myself enough. You can say I am a workaholic, typical Virgo! This is something I’ve looked into and taken up singing lessons and having Reiki, perfect way to heal the soul and boost confidence which is something I have also struggled with.
I do see networking as a release so being surrounded by inspiring people with a glass or two of Prosecco (typical Italian!) swapping stories is a great relaxer.
At weekends though, all I do is go for long walks with my dog Meggy, my beautiful Labrador. Fresh air is what everyone needs at times. Of course I have to always have phone signal in case I’m needed, 24/7 me!
TAR: So I know that a big part of your role alongside working with Ian and Alexandra is dealing with the Aviation clients at Quintessentially in a completely different capacity to your PA duties. How do you find looking after the needs and requests of such high net worth clients and what gets you through those days where the requests are thrown at you relentlessly?
JM: The days when I was an intern, I met some amazing people who I still look after today. Attention to detail is key with Aviation because everyone has individual needs. Some people want the fastest jet, some want comfort and because it is a department within a concierge company it is never just about the jet. The passengers could be going to the Monaco Grand Prix so everything from helicopters, VIP parties, hospitality and accommodation can be included with the package. The clients know what they like and it is your job to mirror their vision and go above and beyond to fulfil their request.
There can be days, like any job, that you feel like the whole world is against you but you have to be quick thinking and remain positive. It it is incredibly rewarding when clients come back because they appreciate your service.
You get an amazing and unique insight into the life’s of the UHNWs and the different cultures and mannerisms. The clients like the fact that I’m a PA as they know that nothing will get missed.
TAR: What a job! What three words would you use to describe your every day in the office?
JM: Manic, fun, fulfilling…
‘Ian often calls me his Strategic Business Partner as I will always tell him the truth and give my opinion on everything. I think if you are a proactive go getter that can think fast and get the job done, then you are half way there.’
TAR: Taking everything you have mentioned so far into consideration especially with the presumption of what most people believe to be the duties of a PA, what advice would you give yourself looking back at your career to the person you were when you first moved into your current role at Q?
JM: Believe in yourself and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, the world doesn’t suddenly blow up because your boss didn’t like his seat on his flight. Always ask questions, knowledge is power not weakness. I was so afraid to question things that you get yourself in such a pickle.
Be truthful as well, my boss doesn’t care if something isn’t going to plan, he likes it when I’m on it and have a solution. Plan B is just as strong as Plan A.
TAR: Awesome advice! So as you know, everyone on our team at TAR is big on supporting mental health in the work place and making a change to the way we all view this critically important matter in both our personal and business lives. Last week we spoke with the amazing Leeanne who really got everyone talking about the issues around mental health and her personal struggles that she had to face. How do you view mental health in the work place and where do you feel the rest of industry stands on this topic?
JM: I think speaking about it is important but this is to people that are strong enough to listen. I’m so grateful to have a community that support me through the hard times and Reiki has really helped me personally. I don’t think the industry is prepared or even have the knowledge on how to support so sadly disclosing to work colleagues is something you really have to be sure about. I’m very close to my boss so can chat when anxiety kicks in however I still put on a massive front to certain people, but what comes first, the chicken or the egg? It’s all about education.
People think that people with mental health issues all rock back and forth in the corner however that is far from the truth! We are all stronger than we think.
TAR: A huge barrier is 100% talking about it so it’s amazing to think that we are working on this as a team to try and educate our colleagues on the issues we all face and also know people who face those same issues! So, career wise, what has been your biggest achievement to date?
JM: I love my PA events, I was so excited when I did my first event in 2011 and I have met amazing people including yourself Miss Gardiner. It is truly a gift to have a network full of people you admire.
‘We all know how great and sometimes stressful our job is so let’s celebrate! We are the most powerful industry and people need to know this! We run this city if not the globe!’
TAR: It is a true skill JM! I have seen you at work and you are a true genius when it comes to every aspect of networking! I would even go as far to say that you are one of the most well connected people I have ever met! So, keeping on track with this current topic of events and as you are the maestro at event organisation, what would be your top tips for someone thinking of organising their own?
JM: It’s all about making lasting connections. Having an event puts a face to an email. It’s not about knowing loads of people, it’s about the relationships you make. You all speak to other PA’s on a daily basis so meet up, have a coffee….even better, have some prosecco! It strengthens our knowledge of the world and helping each other out. We all know how great and sometimes stressful our job is so let’s celebrate! We are the most powerful industry and people need to know this! We run this city if not the globe!
TAR: Perfect! and you know how much I agree with you I think it would be really interesting to find out why you think that being a PA is an amazing job…
JM: We sit next to the most important people in the industry and influence so many people. We see and are part of the action!
Things wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for our dedication. We filter out the crap and promote and make the best happen.
I always say if the worlds problems were left to PAs then not only would it be sorted by lunch time but we would have cocktail in our hand and ready to go with the next task. We all can change the world
TAR: Favourite power dressing outfit?
JM: My go to outfit is my mega heel from Italy, no one has them so I love them! Simple black dress from boohoo.com with great over the top accessories from any boutique shop. It’s about feeling good not just the designer.
TAR: Most reliable venue for a last minute private dining room?
JM: I love Grill restaurant in Beaumont hotel, perfect for a steak night and ice cream sundaes helllloo!!! Perfect place for an away day needs to be Babington house, it is totally amazing!
TAR: Your biggest guilty pleasure?
JM: I love shoes! My absolutely guilty pleasure!
TAR: The best present someone has ever gifted to you?
JM: Best present is the Be Unique monthly present box! It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
TAR: The first place you go after a long hard day at work…
JM: Fist place I go to after a hard day can vary. Winter time is Century Club, fur warm blankets, summer time is all about Aqua on regent street, the terrace is the best!
TAR: Three words to describe yourself…
JM: Loyal, passionate and just plain kooky!