Vicki didn’t plan on becoming a PA. She didn’t spend hours trawling for PA jobs — she didn’t even really know what the job involved. She was temping in London following her degree, and as she says, “I fell into it!” Here, Vicki tells us about how she became an executive PA and why she’s made it her career.
It was about the relationship
“I was temping in all sorts of jobs. I’d worked in a post office, as a receptionist, and even in a high-end boutique estate agency,” Vicki explains. “Then, whilst I was temping in a logistics business, my manager was promoted. We got on really well, and he said he could see me being his PA. And that was that, really. I had to learn everything on the job, and I loved it.”
Vicki continues, “In those early days, I was a jack-of-all-trades. I was learning the role and the business. In time, my manager moved on, and I figured it was time for me to step out of my comfort zone. I’d built my experience up, but I still felt a bit insecure having fallen into the role rather than having actively sought it out. I felt like an imposter against other PA candidates.”
Taking the next step
It was then that Vicki approached our PA recruitment agency. “That gave me the push and the confidence I needed to try and make this my career,” she tells us now. “My consultant, Helen, was so supportive. She spent time with me, explaining how my skills were on a par with others, and that just because I hadn’t come to the career directly, it didn’t mean I couldn’t go forward. She even arranged some software training for me.”
“I had several interviews for corporate PA roles until I was successful,” she continues. “I think it’s really important to act confidently at PA interviews, even if you don’t feel it, because the employer wants to know that you can represent them professionally. Those earlier interviews allowed me to practice having confidence!”
Vicki secured an executive PA position with a marketing entrepreneur whose agency was growing rapidly. “I had to hit the ground running and implement systems,” she explains. “I made lots of organisational changes in those early days, and my new boss could see how I was adding value. As the organisation grew, so did my role and responsibility.”
What makes a good executive PA?
“I think the biggest thing is having a professional can-do attitude,” Vicki explains. “You need to be the most organised person you know! You need to be friendly and approachable whilst also being discreet. But I still think that it ultimately comes down to the relationship between you and your executive. You need to be able to anticipate what they need before they even realise it, and you need to communicate with them effectively. You have to want to make this person’s life easier, and to do that, you need to genuinely like them and believe in them.”
Is there any other advice you would give?
“I love what I do, but don’t be fooled into thinking it’s a straightforward 9-5 office job. My hours can be all over the place, and sometimes I don’t know whether I’m coming or going! At times, it can be pretty thankless too (not with my boss, but with others), and you can seem invisible. But the good outweighs the bad.”
If you’d like to consider a career as an executive PA, then please get in touch on 020 7870 7177.
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