The success of many CEOs and other business executives can be attributed to their superstar personal and executive assistants. We have great admiration for the PA & EA community, which is why we’re excited about the online booking tool we launched in partnership with award-winning title, PA Life for their 12,000+ members/subscribers. One such member that we admire is Debs Eden, PA to Darren Ryemill (CEO at Opus Professional Services Group, Bristol.) We had the pleasure of interviewing her to find out what makes her tick.
Here’s what Debs had to say:
What do you like best about your workspace and why?
I love that we are based in Cabot Circus, which is the main shopping area in Bristol; lots of places for lunch and it also means that I can do chores during my lunch break.
My physical workspace (i.e, my desk) is next to a bank of windows which are at waist height – so I can see daylight (and the side of a multi-storey car park unfortunately).
What is the most interesting and inspiring aspect of your job?
My boss, Darren Ryemill. He’s got an amazing entrepreneurial spirit, is very driven and ambitious and is 100% inspiring (plus, he has excellent banter).
What is the most challenging element of your job?
My boss, Darren Ryemill! He travels lots and it’s difficult to pin him down to answer questions – when I do get hold of him, I usually go for my top three things – everything else can wait!
What piece of technology makes your working life easier?
Mobile phone – I have access to my work email and calendar, and to my CEO’s; we can talk or text at any time – it makes life so much easier. (I thought having a tablet would also help but, in all honesty, my Samsung Galaxy phone does everything the tablet does.)
Tell us about a time when one of your PA skills saved the day.
Just a couple of days ago we had a two-day full management meeting; one of the Directors was very stressed as he couldn’t get his PowerPoint animations to work – luckily, I’m pretty good at PowerPoint and sorted it out – he was very impressed! (I never told him how easy it was!)
What advice would you give to an aspiring PA?
You have to grow into the role; you can’t expect to be good immediately. It takes years of experience to learn how to handle many different (and sometimes difficult) people, to flex your style, to be diplomatic, to negotiate, I could go on and on! Be patient; learn from PAs with more experience and get yourself a mentor.
Meetings and Events
What is the most difficult thing about organising meetings out of the office?
Having to rely on other people and hoping they work to the same standards as you. For example, we were out of the office recently for two days – the hotel claimed all sorts but didn’t deliver. Luckily, I was at the meeting and able to deal with problems but it’s a constant battle with hotels and venues.
What is the most complex meeting or event you’ve had to book in the past year and why?
A little further back than a year, I had to organise a meeting in Amsterdam with attendees from all over the world. I had to organise agendas, travel, dinners, entertainment, etc. I was lucky in that I was able to make a couple of trips to Amsterdam prior to the event and meet all the suppliers involved. Excel spreadsheets also helped as this was in the days before useful Apps!
What is the most significant change you think technology has had on your working life?
It’s made communication faster; I still prefer the phone to email (more personal and much more effective) but email does allow us work globally.
On the negative side, technology now means we have access to our devices 24/7 and it’s become expected that we are always on-line.
Which social media sites help you to perform your job more efficiently and why?
Twitter – great for giving feedback; great for finding out about latest hotspot restaurants and recommendations; great for connecting.
LinkedIn – working in recruitment, we use it all the time; it’s my little black book of connections.
How does your favourite pastime or hobby outside of work make your job easier or more enjoyable?
I practice yoga and meditation daily – this means that I take a zen approach to everything and I don’t let things worry or stress me. I used to worry myself silly about work, now I don’t!
I read lots of articles on LinkedIn and Twitter and this keeps me up to date with the business world and emerging technology developments; it also keeps me connected to the PA world.
What has the most challenging part of your job taught you about yourself?
It’s taught me that I can deal with problems under pressure; there’s nothing worse than your CEO standing next to you when things are falling apart. Being a PA has taught me that I can take any problem in my stride and that every problem has a solution.
What is your mantra or approach to life and work?
“To be the best that I can be.”
If you had a doppelganger living another life in another world, what would her dream job be?
She would run a beachside yoga retreat.
Thanks once again Debs, for taking the time to answer our questions!
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