London’s Top PA : Chrystal Siersma

We are so excited to announce our newest Top PA – Chrystal Siersma. Have a read all about Chrystal’s brilliant career as a PA, her biggest achievements and the challenges she has had to face.

 

How did you get your career started as a PA? 

I used to head up the global PR at FOX TV internationally and was responsible for managing the talent (actors, directors, writers, producer) across all activity including red carpet events, global press tours and premieres. I organised all their schedules, logistics and every day requests - not just their work commitments but their personal needs as well. I really enjoyed this one to one aspect of my role, managing the talent’s lives and building upon our professional relationships to the point where they would call me outside of a work capacity - aka a PA!

 

Then, a British Television presenter I had worked quite closely with over my ten years at FOX,  introduced me to a film director looking for someone to assist him and his supermodel wife in London. I was in LA at the time, I wanted to quit my job at FOX and thought this would be a great opportunity and next step to leave the corporate world but still apply my skill set from the PR/entertainment field. I flew to London, met my future employers and the rest is history!
 

What was your experience of finding your first PA role? 

To begin with, there was no handover. So a lot of my job required thinking on my feet! Your principals don’t have to time to explain their likes and dislikes, so listening, observing and outside of the box thinking was absolutely key! 
 

How does it differ from previous jobs? 

It’s definitely a lifestyle choice. You become almost like a family with your Principals and colleagues, which I think is so important considering how much of your own time you need to give to a role supporting someone; being their right hand person, knowing every aspect of their personal or business life.
 

Who has been your most inspirational boss and why?

I can’t pick just one. I think the opportunity you get as an EA or a PA supporting an individual will always give you scope for inspiration. You are granted unrivalled access to the most important person in the room, be it a CEO, film director, producer etc, you get to observe and learn and shadow them. It’s the school of life.
 

Biggest achievement as a PA?

All my roles I secured were through pure networking and word of mouth, which I believe is a key attribute to have in order to succeed as a PA. 
 

Biggest hurdle you have had to overcome as a PA? 

Understanding that your personal life is no longer a priority and balancing that was a huge challenge. One that I never really overcame.
 

Do you feel valued as a PA? Do you think PAs get enough recognition? 

In my most of my roles, yes. In others less so. You need to have very thick skin in this business and know that you can’t take things personally. Rise above it; get the job done. Completing the impossible is recognition enough. I don’t need someone to tell me well done, good job, and you won’t get it . If I succeed at the task at hand, I know I did well.

What advice would you give to candidates finding their first job in a support role in London?

Network. Network. Network. You’d be surprised how willing people are to help. 
 

What three attributes do you think make a good PA? 

Thick skin

Communication skills

Confidence (especially in your own ability)

And one more- adaptability. No two employers will work in the same way. 
 

What makes your day easier and what or who couldn’t you live without?

Going through my to do list with my principal/employer everyday day. Even if it means missing all my trains home, just to get that face time. It’s invaluable. 

I couldn’t live without my iPhone. I really do have an app for everything 
 

What are you most proud of? 

My black book. Drop me in any city in the world and I’ll know someone. I spent 14 years building up my network and it still surprises me how you can speak to someone after ten years no contact and get what you need!
 

What advice would you give to a young PA starting their career? 

Create a stand out CV, try and learn a language or build your international experience - I found this had always helped me stand out from the crowd. Don’t be afraid to contact the CEO directly be it on LinkedIn or at a networking event. You’d be surprised how impressive that hustle can be.
 

When you’re not being one of London’s top PAs, what do you enjoy doing? 

Right now I’m working as an EA to a creative director in Saudi Arabia who is producing a live event supporting local female artists!