We are thrilled to introduce our newest Top PA - Nina Hendra. Nina talks about how studying at Oxford Media and Business School has set her up for life, her current experiences working as a PA and her future aspirations.
How did you get your career started as a PA?
I attended Oxford Media & Business School (OMBS) for the 9-month Professional Business Diploma and it has set me up for life. The skills I learned there are invaluable to me and I have been learning new ones ever since.
What was your experience of finding your first PA role?
Very exciting! Bain & Gray interviewed me while I was still at OMBS and found me a brilliant role as Team Assistant working for Ingenious Asset Management. I finished college on a Wednesday and started my new job the following Monday. I had two interviews with Ingenious one of which involved a skills test using Outlook, Excel and Powerpoint. It seems so long ago now but I remember being nervous at the time.
How does it differ from previous jobs?
I have always been a PA but now working for myself entails a whole new ball game. For me, the pros of being a Virtual PA outweigh the cons. It means I can work from anywhere with an internet connection, run my own time and fix my own pricing. But that’s not to say I don’t miss the office buzz and human interaction it brings, just being part of something bigger is always fun.
Who has been your most inspirational boss and why?
A wonderful lady called Yolande Barnes who worked at Savills for 30 years and established their research department in the 80s. During my four years there, she taught me how to become a refined version of my former self and gave me the ‘space’ to come up with my own ideas for all sorts of interesting projects while working with people from across the world, which is always a plus in my book. That… and after 30 years she quit to go back to academia, the true love of her life, becoming a professor at UCL! #itsnevertoolate
Biggest achievement as a PA?
Setting up my own Virtual PA business – a hard but necessary decision and it didn’t happen overnight. I spent a year somewhat lost between quitting my job at Savills and planning my wedding. But now I’m up and running I’m more motivated than ever!
Biggest hurdle you have had to overcome as a PA?
Learning that being someone’s PA or team assistant is different for every boss or client. Being a PA means you must learn to adapt to everyone else’s working style or at least accommodate it as much as possible.
Do you feel valued as a PA? Do you think PAs get enough recognition?
At first, I felt short-changed but the longer I worked with people the more valued they made me feel and a few years on the clock helped me become less precious about things like that. However, I think I have been extremely lucky because other PAs I speak to work with some horrible people who even go to the effort of telling them they’re bad at their job, which I know is certainly not the case.
What advice would you give to candidates finding their first job in a support role in London?
Shout out to Bain & Gray – Claire, Emily, and the team are so good at matching personality and skillset to companies that I have used them time and time again. Its been nearly 10 years since I first registered and I will always go back for perm and temp work.
What three attributes do you think make a good PA?
Caring, decisive and uplifting.
What makes your day easier and what or who couldn’t you live without?
Music and food make my day a whole lot easier and I couldn’t live without a daily phone call to my Dad – he’s the best listener.
What are you most proud of?
That I haven’t been to university and I’ve still managed to conquer the London job market.
What advice would you give to a young PA starting their career?
Always be ready with a smile and lead with an iron fist in a silk glove (aka a balance of charming firmness).
When you’re not being one of London’s top PAs, what do you enjoy doing?
Playing hockey for Hampstead & Westminster. Joining a sports team gave me so much confidence and an instant girl squad.