London’s Top PA: Melissa Kolcular

We are thrilled to introduce our latest Top PA - Melissa Kolcular! Melissa shares with us her career experiences and why she loves her job as a PA.

How did you get your career started as a PA? 

I graduated from university with a psychology degree, at the time, wanting to pursue a career in HR. My first role entailed supporting 5 MD’s in Executive Reward, I learnt quite quickly that I was good at organising multiple people, projects and timelines simultaneously and had good exposure to senior leaders including their expectations from the start of my career. I then wanted to step up as I got a real passion for EA work and was keen to be working on a higher level on a 1:1 basis so that I was taking full management responsibility for projects and leading people.

What was your experience of finding your first PA role? 

My first role was sourced through a recruitment agency and I began working as a contractor for a large blue chip Company; I was offered a permanent position after one month.

How does it differ from previous jobs? 

With all my other positions, I have negotiated permanent employment from the start; this I feel gives a little more security.  Contracting however, can be a good way to get in with a Company first; to see if the Company is the right fit for you, especially if it is a new industry.

Who has been your most inspirational boss and why? 

I had a fantastic boss mid span of my career to date, who was the highest female senior leader in a reputable Financial Services Company. Working and travelling alongside her for 3 years as her right hand really taught me about the commercial business, delegation, leadership, communication and good employee management skills. The role was fast paced and very much escorting a boss through the working day, from briefing between meetings, preparing pitches and presentations, rolling out communications on her behalf, assisting with the alignment of the Direct Reports and the executive office and travelling across EMEA to ensure of smooth logistics and time management efficiency.

Biggest achievement as a PA?

Setting up and implementing full Executive & Private Office management from inception. This included successfully managing the operations and leading the team in a foreign country for a number of years.

Biggest hurdle you have had to overcome as a PA? 

The biggest hurdle I have faced is letting a support team go. It is probably one of the most challenging conversations one can have in business; especially when the conversation is not performance based but around the future movement of the business.

Do you feel valued as a PA?

Yes, for the most part.

Do you think PAs get enough recognition? 

Absolutely! An appreciative boss will not be able to function without you. You become so engaged with their day-to-day activities on both a business and private level. This truly is when you become someone’s right hand support and gatekeeper for all affairs. They will ensure you have the recognition you deserve and are rewarded for it fairly as they will not want to lose you.

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

Longevity in a position as an EA is probably the most important thing, it shows determination and that you are effective in fully supporting a boss.  I also believe it takes at least 2 years to build a solid foundation in supporting a boss.

What three attributes do you think make a good PA? 

Organisation / Efficiency / Communication

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

My day is made easier by writing a to do list at the end of each day in preparation for the next day. I could not live without planning a week ahead on a continual weekly basis for my boss to ensure we are aligned!

What are you most proud of? 

My determination; sometimes the position can be long hours, tough, stressful and hard. You can feel like you want to give up! The most important thing to recognise with EA work is that no day is ever the same. While one day you can feel like things are falling apart and you will never get through your to do list, the next day everything is in tiptop shape!

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

Gain experience in a few positions first as a team assistant to get exposure into the work and what you can expect from the role. In addition, working for a Senior EA is also very good experience to learn all the tricks of the trade.

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

Playing tennis is my biggest past time as well as photography. I love travelling to new places and getting off the beaten track to capture new landscape and wildlife images.