PA Goal Setting for 2016


By Lauren Heath

Lauren Heath Headshot

Lauren is an Office Manager and PA to Partners. After starting out in the hospitality industry, Lauren has since gained a decade of business and administrative experience, having managed offices and supported senior staff in SME’s in a variety of sectors including construction, events, education and more recently in oil and gas engineering.

Since March it has been my goal to return to a fully fledged PA and Office Manager role. It has been tough going, with the competition beating me to it a few times. I did think – “why not stay in my job? I am good at what I do even if I don’t feel pushed to my full potential”. “No!” I thought – I know what I am very good at and I know what I want to be now that I am grown up! (I only just feel this in my early 30’s).

I finally got the new job, hurrah! I am now in a company that appreciates the need and benefit of CPD and networking, and now I feel more freedom and room to grow than ever before. Ironically, having achieved my goal for 2015 in the nick of time, I found an event on Eventbrite that was local to me for Setting Goals for 2016 – brilliant!

The facilitator was Mumazing Success,  a network group for Entrepreneur and career-minded mums to meet and find a work/life balance. It was really good to meet other working mums and business women and hear about their ups and downs as well as achievements for 2015; it puts your own life into perspective. Being a mum and working full time can bring on many feelings of guilt that most people don’t talk about or who are shy to say they enjoy working. I am proud to say I am very ambitious in my work, want to be the best I can be, and I ensure all the family time with my son and husband is quality time.

So looking back on 2015 we discussed our lessons, challenges, what we were grateful for and our proudest moments. It is good to reflect on your year and feel that you have achieved something – new clients, new job, even taking up a hobby that brings you happiness and de-stresses you. Don’t feel guilty; if you are the best you can be, then you will be the best to those around you.

So…the year ahead; what are your goals?

  • Choose goals that you have an emotional connection to – something that you want and feel is right
  • Have self-belief – you can do it!
  • Ignore negativity – it will only stop you from achieving. Surround yourself with good influences or attend other network meetings with like-minded people
  • Reward yourself – instil a good feeling on achieving your goals or the tasks leading up to a goal. Positive reinforcement goes a long way
  • Take action – break these goals down into an action plan, bite size chunks, so they don’t seem unachievable and avoid feeling overwhelmed,
  • Visualise your goals – maybe put up a picture at home or in your office of what you want to have, achieve or improve

At the end of the session, we did a mood board, which at first I found myself flicking through magazines not finding anything that seemed ‘me’. Then words started jumping out and then a few pictures as well. At the end I found I had put my goals into pictures and words in a visual display. Every now and then I can remind myself of what I want to achieve and even add a new cutting if something else pops up or my goal changes slightly.

Apparently 20% of people set goals and only 3% write them down and go on to review and achieve them. So go on, be part of the 3%, set a couple of goals for the year, write them down, ‘visualise them…let’s see what 2016 will bring and where you can find yourself in 12 months time. Life is a journey after all.

So what goals have you set for 2016? Feel free to leave your comments below. 

Effective Time Management – It’s Vital


By Jessica Hardwicke

Jessica Hardwicke

Jessica’s role is to support her boss in everything he does to drive strategic growth of the firm.  She has a degree in Business Studies and in Event Management, both of which she feels have provided vital skills to propel her to Executive Assistant level and enables her to work in partnership with her boss. The growth in their business comes from key banking, legal and client relationships which she helps to  sustain, manage and develop. Most recently she was shortlisted for Yorkshire PA of the Year and Executive PA Magazine up and coming PA of the year. She is passionate about the role of a PA/EA and  actively encourages others to opt for it as a a career choice.

Assistants have a varied and occasionally misunderstood role. They have to cope with numerous different tasks every day from answering calls and emails to creating and collating information and preparing for and attending meetings, all of which require effective time management and forward planning. This is combined with working on the larger more strategic aspects of their role whilst supporting the senior executive, a balancing act is required.

But what happens when a client or your boss calls with an issue that needs to be dealt with immediately? I have learnt that as an EA you are always on call for whatever issue may arise and equally expected to drop everything you are doing in order to deal with the task in hand. I appreciate this is also due to the nature of the industry you work in, but more often than not it is a common theme amongst other PA’s and EA’s I regularly deal with.

I tend to split my work load into rocks and sand. Rocks being strategic goals and sand being routine tasks or those last minute requests that you must do right away. You should fill your day up with rocks, only plan for 4-5 hours of ‘real work’ per day and the rest will fill up naturally with sand. The key to this is the prioritisation over which matters are rocks and which are sand, and this must be in tune with the person for whom you work so objectives are aligned.

Once you have planned your day like this you will feel in control and thus able to adapt quickly to needs as they arrive. I believe if you invest more time in planning, you can avoid crises and rework, which will provide you with the energy to be truly effective and not just busy. Working more hours does not make you more productive!

It’s also vital that your boss respects your time. They should always know what your current workload entails and thus appreciate when you drop everything when an urgent matter comes in.

Another key skill that you must have in your skills set is to the ability to implement effective time management for your boss. In my case, my boss is often in a position where many conflicting appointments arise. It is therefore my job to conserve his time, prioritise meetings and workload, and delegate or decline anything that is of lesser importance. This is a vital skill to master, and you are the gate keeper to the strategic rocks finding their place, and ensuring mundane tasks do not inhibit growth. When working so closely with someone, you need to understand why a lot of these meetings are happening in the first place in order to establish a level of priority and preparation required.

The biggest thing I have learnt is to always ask questions, it is better to know too much about something than not enough!

#MondayMotivation @JoanneManville


What Motivated you to become a PA?

“I started my working career after leaving further education in 1998, and began with roles in administration in estate agency/financial services, becoming a Mortgage Consultant.”

“In 2005, I decided that I wanted a change of direction and recognised that my success in previous roles had been due to my administrative strengths, and took a role as an Administration Manager for a local charity.  This naturally led into a role as a Personal Assistant in 2006 and I have been a PA/EA/VA ever since.”


Joanne Manville,  Founder of Joanne Manville Virtual Assistant

Joanne has worked an an Executive Personal Assistant to MDs, CEOs and Chairmen for the last 9 years, in both the public and private sectors. These roles have also included line management and responsibilities as a member of the senior management team, Secretary to the Board of Directors and Office Manager duties.  In 2015, she decided that the time was right to put all of this experience to good use, helping other business owners to deliver the best service possible to their customers and in October 2015 she launched her own Virtual Assistant business ‘Joanne Manville Virtual Assistance’.

Why being a PA is a career and not a job


(PA/EA – The forgotten profession?)
By Jennifer Corcoran

Jennifer Corcoran

Jennifer Corcoran is the Office Manager to Managing Directors within Ship Finance at Crédit Agricole CIB based in London. She joined EUMA in 2014 and considers herself to be a champion of the PA Profession.  She was awarded the title of “Networking PA of the Year” at The London PA Awards 2015 and was elected as the National Public Relations Officer for EUMA UK.  She was a finalist for Pitman’s SuperAchiever PA and SecsintheCity’s Social Media PA of the Year 2015. 
The results of the National PA Survey 2015 were announced at office* on National PA Day.  62% of Personal Assistants feel a strong sense of loyalty to their bosses. 
CRLSv7eW8AAgsF1Unfortunately, not all Assistants feel this level of loyalty or respect is reciprocated.Personal Assistants are a little like housewives with few fully appreciating the sheer scale of their remit until they are absent from their workplace. Some important questions to ask yourself.
  • Is your job description up to date or is it an inherited generic job spec full of clichés?
  • Is this job spec used as an appraisal tool for measuring progression or performance?
  • Does your boss and company view your role as a career with a valid pathway?
  • If not, have you spoken up and how are you driving the professionalism of your role?

If we find it difficult to articulate our role how can we expect others to fully grasp its complexities.  At the end of the day Managers want to hear about bottom lines and how you successfully planned and smoothly executed your teams’ success in achieving annual targets and ultimately ROI. There is so much more to us than tea and typing. Modern EAs and PAs are leaders and not helpers. We expand productivity and are brand ambassadors for our bosses, company and profession. The role we fulfil comes with accountability and responsibility and we are in effect the manager of our managers when it comes to time keeping. 

Young tired businesswoman with tons of documents calling phone

Unfortunately some managers don’t appreciate the competence, talents, and skills of their PAs. They don’t trust them enough to delegate the important but time-consuming tasks that take them off mission.  They are stuck in an old-school submissive secretary paradigm. It is up to you to professionalise your role. 
I reached a stage where I was fed up with the perception of my role.  I realised that if others were to take me seriously that I needed to act like other executives within my company. I put in a request for business cards, specific PA training (conferences/seminars) and also requested that my company pay my subscription to various PA magazine publications and my membership for networking PA Club associations. After all if you don’t ask, you don’t get.I entered several PA awards.  I wanted to highlight and reinforce to colleagues, friends and family that we take our roles seriously and deserve accolades like any other profession. 
The long-time goal for me is for PAs and EAs to get the respect and recognition they ultimately deserve in the work force. It would be great if people could acknowledge that for some of us we consider it a valid career choice and not just a job or a stepping stone on to greater things. There are some fantastic Assistants out there – some of them highly educated with degrees, masters and/or multi-lingual skills. Donna Karen started out as a PA and the world would not have known Elvis if it was not for PA Marion Keisker.  Being a PA is a valid career choice for any woman or man. 
I would encourage all Assistants to get on LinkedIn.  As Executive Assistants, our general knowledge and administrative expertise transcends all industries and our collaborative way of working stands us in good stead to bring value to any networking group.Poor communication, delegation skills and lack of information can hamper an Assistants overall ability to succeed.  The truth is that a PA is really a full partner in achieving business goals.   

7 Key Skills PA Masterclass

I believe that Bonnie Low-Kramen said it best in her article: ‘The Top 10 Career Practices to Learn from Administrative Assistants’.“They are relentlessly adaptable. They love a challenge. They underplay their power. Making people happy is their goal. They read minds. They love to put out fires and bring order to chaos. They are master jugglers. They are hungry to learn. They are connected. They yearn to make a difference.”

Meet EA Eleanor Marshall, this evening’s Guest Speaker


Eleanor Marshall will be giving a talk on her ‘Career Journey’ at this evening’s members’ event at The Clubhouse Mayfair.

04fa8f6Eleanor is an EA at Facebook and has ten years’ experience working as an Executive Assistant and event planner. She is also an award winning PA who won the title of PA of the Year in 2013 and Social Networking PA of the Year in 2014 at the SecsintheCity PA of the Year Awards.

She began her career the City, where she managed a large term of secretaries within the Lloyd’s of London risk market. She eventually made the leap into media in 2008,  where she began supporting the Manager Director (and running events) for a small TV company within ITV.

A few years later came the world of radio, when she moved on to support Clive Dickens, the co-founder of Absolute Radio. It was here that she cut her teeth working on large-scale music events, working at venues such as Abbey Road, the Isle of Wight Festival as well as at the Rolling Stones’ successful 2012 Huge Park gigs.

In late 2012 she won Secs in The City’s inaugural “PA of the Year” award, after which she started contributing to various industry blogs (and was profiled in a front page article in PA Life magazine). In 2013 she travelled to Malaysia to train a delegation of assistants on skills such as Time Management and Work/Life Balance.

Since 2013 Eleanor has been working for Facebook, originally supporting the Chief Creative Officer, Mark D’Arcy, during his secondment in London. She now supports Rob Newlan (Director, Creative, EMEA) and runsglobal events for Facebook’s Creative Shop team.

Eleanor is a life-long east Londoner, where she still lives with her husband & their two dogs and beloved cat.