Tell us a bit about yourself / your role at Crédit Agricole CIB / a bit of background
I’m originally from Dublin and have been a Personal Assistant / Office Manager for 20 years working with Senior Executives at international level.
I’ve worked in Australia, Ireland and have been based in London for the past 13 years.
Throughout my career I have been described as an initiator and super connector and I'm a proud champion of the PA profession.
I have worked within Crédit Agricole CIB for 10 years and currently support both the Global and London Head of Ship Finance.
CACIB is one of the leaders in the shipping scene, ranking consistently among the top 5 banks in Ship Finance.
What do you enjoy the most in your role?
It is a bit of a cliché but I like the autonomy and the variety of the role. It can be hard to quantify what we actually do on a day to day basis owing to our multiple hats.
It’s more a case of what don’t we do. The skill-set of the modern PA is a far cry from the tea and typing stereotype and involves resilience and strategic thinking.
We are the vital cog and lynchpin in any executive team yet we also sit on the fringes so it is a pretty unique role with many challenges.
You are very pro-active on LinkedIn; could you tell us how Social Media helps you in your role?
The modern day Assistant must engage in Social Media in order to be considered current, relevant and connected. We can no longer say it’s not for me.
If you do, you run the risk of being left behind. The role of the PA has radically changed over the past 10-20 years. One of the reasons being the introduction of Social Media.
We are brand ambassadors for our role, boss, company and ultimately the PA profession. We are already super connectors within our companies and personal lives but now we need to reach out that little bit further. A solid LinkedIn profile and presence implies credibility, professionalism and that you are an expert in your chosen field. This is particularly relevant for dealings with customers, suppliers, peers and even recruiters.
There are a multitude of groups for Assistants on LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ which facilitate the sharing of ideas and best practice and provide a supportive community. On Twitter you can follow brand ambassadors and influencers and have an amazing reach. I find the newsfeed on LinkedIn especially useful as it allows me to see what my connections are up to and what is a hot topic or hot off the press.
Which advice/tips would you give to your fellow PAs to get the most out of these social networks?
My top tip is to always check the security and privacy settings of each platform. Once you are in control you will feel more comfortable. You can organise contacts by lists or tags – we live our lives by lists so why should Social Media be any different. If someone wants to connect with you and you don’t know them or feel they are not relevant to you then don’t connect – think quality over quantity. Social Media not only gives PAs a voice it is also a perfect platform for introverts. We make up 50% of the population but are often not heard or valued but through Social Media you can determine and create your own personal brand.
That being said if you do not want to actively engage I would still encourage you to sign up and look, listen and learn. By following people or groups you will become aware of hot topics and trends relevant to your continued professional development such as conferences/seminars, publications, training, networking groups or communities.
I believe that you are also a volunteer for an Assistant network? Can you tell us a bit more about this?
I love being a PA but it is often a lonely and isolated role which is why it is essential to find support either online or with face to face networking.
I joined EUMA (European Management Assistants) UK in 2014. Founded in 1974, EUMA is today synonymous with optimal learning, collaboration and networking at an international level and has members in 26 countries. It is an unique, not-for-profit and member led Assistant network and provides interactive networking and training events with the opportunity to learn about other cultures through its unique platform.
In June 2015 I was elected by my peers as the National Public Relations Officer for EUMA UK which was an honour. EUMA is committed to supporting professional development as well as enhancing and championing the professional status of Assistants and management support staff. If I’m ever stuck for a hotel or restaurant I ask my EUMA community for help and support and always get it tenfold (To find out more about EUMA (European Management Assistants) check out www.euma.org).
From a career perspective networking enables you to build on your personal brand and reputation. It will keep you up to date and relevant in an ever changing world. By attending networking events it will enable you to become a super connector and should the need arise it will provide you with potential career opportunities and enhanced mobility. You will also get the opportunity to check out amazing venues which you can then personally recommend to colleagues, clients and peers.