1. How did you get your career started as an EA? Did you always know you wanted to be an EA or did it take you by surprise?

I graduated from Sheffield University with a Business Degree and was unsure of what to pursue after my gap year. After a few years working in Merchandising, I decided to explore being a PA. Surprisingly, it was my mother who recommended it to me, noting my knack for organisation. Additionally, I cherished reading the 'Creme' supplement that used to appear in The Times Newspaper about 20 years ago. They featured a PA of the week, which I found incredibly inspiring—revealing my age a bit now!

2. You were an EA for over 13 years for the same company - what was it about the role or company that kept you interested for so long?

The main reason I remained in my previous role for an extended period was due to the partnership I developed with my boss, Ian. It takes time to build a relationship where you can anticipate and handle correspondence on behalf of someone else. Ian made it a priority to allocate time for us to connect in his schedule. We had at least two face-to-face catch-ups daily, each lasting 30 minutes. This routine provided me with a sense of fulfillment as we efficiently tackled a significant amount of work together. Ian genuinely appreciated the value I brought to the table and understood the significance of my role.

3. How did you ensure career progression while staying with one company for 13 years?

It is hard to feel like you are progressing in a role when the essential components stay the same. However, over the span of 13 years, the company experienced significant growth, leading to the evolution of my role. I consistently kept a lookout for opportunities to get involved in different projects and because it was a relatively small company that was possible. Initially, my responsibilities were primarily those of a PA, but towards the end of my tenure, I transitioned into the role of EA to the CEO. This shift involved assisting in recruitment, management, and mentoring of a team of EAs, alongside involvement in organising company events, wellness initiatives, and partnerships.

4. Aside from being highly organised, calm, and practical, what are some skills you think an EA needs to be successful in today’s world?

I would add to this list anticipation! The art of being able to anticipate your executive’s needs is something all assistants should be able to do. Being prepared for any eventuality, being one step ahead and being able to read between the lines are all important. Assistants are the magicians of any business!

5. What was your biggest achievement as an EA?

I would say my most significant achievement was the relationships I forged during my tenure at CapGen. I cultivated strong connections with individuals ranging from building security to the Chairman. Strong relationships are paramount and prove immensely beneficial when expediency is required to accomplish tasks. Now that I have moved on, I intend to maintain contact with all my former colleagues, many of whom have become my friends.

6. What’s the biggest hurdle you have had to overcome as an EA?

Over the course of being a EA the most significant hurdles or challenges I encountered consistently revolved around travel or IT issues. During the peak of the Volcanic Ash Cloud incident, I faced the task of arranging the return of two executives from abroad, putting my problem-solving skills to the test. I also recall instances when laptops malfunctioned or documents went missing. My top advice in these situations is to nurture strong relationships with your IT colleagues and collaborate with reputable travel agents.

7. What or who couldn’t you live without?


8. What are you reading at the moment?

'Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow' by Gabrielle Kevin

9. Do you have any podcasts or book recommendations that you feel furthered your professional development?

I love ‘Diary of a CEO’ by Steven Bartlett. It inspired me to set up my own business and has some great healthy living advice. I have always struggled to find a decent podcast for the EA/PA world though, excited to tune into the Bain and Gray podcast soon!

10. What advice would you give to a young EA starting their career?

  • Get a mentor, this will be invaluable in helping you with advice and a sounding board.
  • Set up a LinkedIn Profile, there is some invaluable resources and training courses available on there.

11. How do you motivate yourself on those tricky, unproductive days?

Walking breaks are essential to keep me focused. If I am flagging I always try and get some fresh air, even if it’s just a walk round the block.

12. You moved to Dubai fairly recently, what is it you're doing over there?

Given the limited availability of part-time opportunities in this area, I had decided to establish my own Virtual Executive Assistant Business. My goal was to maintain employment while being available for school drop-offs and pick-ups. Becoming a VA was an obvious choice because it allows me to set my own schedule, select my clients, and work remotely, providing the flexibility to spend time with my kids during the hot August summer holidays.

13. What prompted your move to Dubai?

I always wanted to move abroad in my 20’s and it never happened as I fell into the usual pattern of getting on the property ladder, marriage and children. Then covid struck! Fortunately, my husband was relocated to Dubai by his company last year, and we haven’t looked back since. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family and experience a different lifestyle. While living here, we hope to travel more, with Asia and Africa right on our doorstep.

14. How does being an EA in Dubai compare to the same role in London?

The working culture is quite different out here. There are less hybrid working opportunities. I was itching to get back to work but wanted to find something that I could balance with the school run. I have therefore decided to set up my own Virtual EA Business called ‘Select EA’. Please do connect with me on Linkedin for useful EA content and if you are interested in moving to Dubai, I am more than happy for you to contact me.