Interview with Jamie Heard, Personal Assistant in London (UK)

JAMIE HEARD

ASSISTENTE-DIREZIONE.IT: Hi Jamie, could you tell us a little about yourself?

JAMIE HEARD: I am 26 years old and originally from South Wales but moved to London in 2009 after being promoted at work. I love London and everything about it. From the hustle and bustle of the city to the quieter greener parts like Greenwich.

AD: For which company do you currently work?

JH: I’ve been working for Lloyds Banking Group for 6 years! I also have a part-time volunteering PA position at ‘The New Diorama Theater’ in central London.

AD: Which tasks/responsibilities does your job include and with which Manager(s) do you work with?

JH: I work for the Head of Organisational Effectiveness, which is within the Wealth & International division of Lloyds Banking Group on a 1:1 basis and I also help out with her direct reports and wider team members. A few of my tasks/responsibilities are listed below:

  •  Extensive Diary Management for the Head of Department and direct reports
  • Prioritise, manage and reply to emails on behalf of Head of OE
  • Create and manage highly confidential HR material
  • Liaise with Financial Services Authority for potential MD/CEO candidates
  • Arrange travel and accommodation for all staff, cost effectively along with monitoring and tracking the department budget, identifying opportunities for cost reduction and forecasting spends
  • Attend HR calibration sessions taking notes and following up actions
  • Organise team meetings and events
  • Liaise with external high profile clients

AD: What lead you to become a Personal Assistant and what are your previous professional experiences?

JH: I saw an advert for a ‘PA Pool’ within the company and applied. It consisted of shadowing PA’s from around the business on a weekly basis and learning the skills and knowledge they had to become an ultimate PA. My main background has been admin assistant roles so I felt this was the next step for me. What appealed to me about the PA role was the fact that you get to see so much information and meet so many high profile colleagues and clients. It gives you a great opportunity to build networks.

AD: Could you describe your typical working day?

JH: No one day is ever the same which is  why I love the role so much. You obviously get the admin tasks which have to be done but my days could range from diary management all day to attending workshops on the other side of London or flying up to Edinburgh to meet with my boss and my team based there.

AD: What do you find the most challenging about your work?

JH: My boss lives in Glasgow and travels to London most Tuesdays, leaving on Thursdays. A lot of the time we communicate via email or phone and only get to see each other face to face now and again. I’ve gone 3 weeks without physically seeing my boss as we both work from different location. Sometimes it’s a challenge but you’ve just got to get on with it.

AD: What kinds of deadlines you have had to meet in your current position and how do you organize your work priorities? Do you use a specific system?  (ex: to do List, etc..)

JH: I work to meet deadlines all the time. In the past I’ve been in the office with my boss until 2am in the morning to finish packs such as the OCR (Organisational Capability Review). It consists of information on our top Leaders and Talent within Wealth & International. The pack is issued to Managing Directors and CEO’s from W&I and HR so it’s extremely important the packs are checked with a fine tooth comb. I have an ongoing ‘to do list’ and once an item is completed I cross this off. I’ve also started using the ‘tasks’ tab on my Microsoft Outlook after attending an amazing 2 day PA course in London in 2010 (Today’sPA).

AD: What software do you use most in your job and what type of documentation do you prepare?

JH: I probably use Microsoft Office the most. I hardly ever delete emails and have folders for everything. The diary is a big part of a PA role along with keeping control of both your inbox and your boss’. PA’s have a very in depth relationship with Outlook and know how to do things that most people using Outlook wouldn’t know existed. From Outlook I prepare a lot of emails on behalf of my boss so knowing how to word things on her behalf is key for me.

AD: More and more men are entering the profession of assistant without any complexes. In what aspects might they encounter more problems than women and where could they be an added value to our profession?

JH: I believe the problem we encounter more than women lies with the recruiter and not necessarily with us. “Can a businessman deal with having another male take care of his diary and personal arrangements?” “His peers all have female PA’s therefore he should have a female PA?” “Can a businesswomen have a male PA without colleagues or her husband questioning why not a female PA?”… I’ve been lucky enough to build great relationships with most of my bosses and for one in particular they told me one of the above quotes was true.

In my eyes a male PA can be just as successful as a female PA. It’s not the most masculine job especially within the industry I work in however the information available to a PA is immense and we pride ourselves on being discreet with it.

AD: What question do you get asked the most about being a male Personal Assistant and what is your answer?

JH: The main question I get asked the most is ‘what do you enjoy about the PA role’.
I’m always honest with my reply. I’m extremely passionate about the PA role and anyone who knows me or who has interviewed me will tell you how passionate I am. I believe I stand out from the crowd when applying for PA roles when my CV reads ‘Mr Jamie Heard’. I’ve only had one negative response to me being a PA and that was my very first interview! But 6 years down the line and I’m still going strong!

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