What are the main aspects of your role?
My role is very varied and probably doesn’t sit within the ‘traditional PA’ job description that many would think. Having been with Absolute Taste for 14 years there are lots of jobs that I do which are a hangover from when we were a very small company with 10-15 people so we all mucked in, saying that I still do these tasks because I enjoy these aspects and I don’t want to relinquish them! Obviously there are the usual tasks of diary management, travel arrangements, fielding calls and emails and I help with the PR for the company. I organise all the travel for the company as well as my principal which can be demanding particularly with the F1 team following the Grand Prix circuit, the Extreme Sailing team heading around the world, adhoc business travel and the Events team heading wherever the events need them to be! Due to my longevity here I tend to be the ‘google’ of Absolute Taste.
What is your morning routine before you get in to the office?
My morning routine is a bit of a standing joke in the office as I am a creature of habit. I get up about 0630 on a good day and I go for a run, 0730 on a bad day when I don’t. Obviously there is the shower and the usual and then at 0800 I head to make breakfast, this varies day to day from eggs on veg or a homemade smoothie and then I sit at the dining table for 20mins to eat, read my book and listen to radio2, this is really important to me as it is the only time in the day when no-one contacts me and so is real ‘me’ time. I then finish getting ready and leave the house at 0845. I have a very short walk to work but again I treasure those 10 minutes and listen to a couple of rugby podcasts to catch up on the weekends games and have a laugh, it is a good way to start the day.
What time do you get into the office and what time do you leave?
I am always in the office at 0900 prompt ready to start the day. This gives me 15-20min before Lyndy arrives so I can clear the overnight emails and confirm the diary for the day and then I am free to do any tasks that Lyndy requires which must always come first. I leave the office when Lyndy leaves and so that varies day to day but is usually about 6.30/6.45. Lyndy kindly drops me home so we can have a quick debrief on the day and the one ahead and then I have plenty of time for that run I didn’t manage in the morning!!
What does an average day look like?
No such thing. One of the things I love about my job the most is the fact that I can never really predict what is going to happen or what I might need to do, in the first 2 months of my job I got a call from Lyndy in Germany asking me to join her and my flight was in 2 hours (since then I always carry my passport with me!). My main job of each day is to help Lyndy with whatever task or deadline she has, from helping with quotes, finding out information and organising all that is needed for the next meeting. I can suddenly find myself on the hunt for a very specific glass or plate that Lyndy wants for an event or buying a gift for a client.
What do you have for lunch?
Another source of amusement to the office, I am very lucky in that my sister makes me lunch each day, it varies from chicken salad to homemade soup. However, some weeks I am even more fortunate and can be joining Lyndy in trying out the latest restaurant or café, part of what makes Absolute Taste so good is keeping on top of the latest places and the newest foods, I have eaten in some of the best places in London thanks to my role and have learnt an awful lot about food on the journey.
What is the hardest part of your day?
I don’t think a day goes past when I don’t hear the phrase ‘I have an impossible task for you…’ which instantly ignites my stubborn streak. I never like to fail and so these are the tasks that I love the most. This can be from getting a last minute table reservation to finding a salon for Truffie, Lyndy’s gorgeous cocker spaniel, or making Lyndy’s vision a reality – this is the hardest part, but how boring would it be if it was all easy?! Oh and getting visas…this has to be the worst, for all the countries we go there are a large number to do throughout the year and lots of forms to keep filling in, I know some people’s details better than my own.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The variation, I don’t think anyone could get bored sat in my chair. I can be working at a Grand Prix circuit one day and then back at my desk in Wandsworth the next. I don’t get out on many events anymore, I tend to help in the build up but when I do I love it, the buzz at the end of the night, often as the sun comes up, knowing you have delivered the best party for the client. Most recently I have travelled to St Petersburg for the Extreme Sailing series which was an experience, 22hrs daylight and the loudest canon you have ever heard at 12pm every day but something I would never get to experience otherwise.
What has been your career highlight?
Gosh, that is tricky as there has been so many big and small. Working at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday party that we did in Hyde Park and seeing such an iconic man in the flesh has to be the absolute highlight, although seeing Prince William sing living on a prayer with Jon Bon Jovi must feature highly. Hearing an F1 car for the first time as you stand in the garage is also a moment I won’t forget. Something I love is seeing someone else’s experience for the first time too.
What do you do in the evening with your spare time?
I try to get exercise in every day and so if I failed in the morning then I do this as soon as I get home. I love sport and so the weekends usually involve me watching rugby in particular and socialising with friends. I am partial to a vino it has to be said. In the summer I play cricket for Richmond Ladies and so the training and matches take up more of my time, but that is very social too, a pimms on the outfield is never a bad thing!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other assistants?
Laugh! It is work and so it isn’t going to be a ‘knees up’ everyday but I really believe you must enjoy what you do most of the time. I can honestly say we laugh every day, it is good for everyone and if you are happy then others will be around you too. This is rather clichéd isn’t it but I do feel quite strongly about it.
What would you do if you were not an assistant?
Well I never really knew I was going to be a PA in all honesty, I studied history at university because I loved it not with a career choice in mind. Because of my love of sport I always wanted to be a physio, my ideal was to kneel on the side of the rugby pitch waiting for someone to need the magic sponge!
Hannah will be speaking at Assist Travel, make sure you book your free place to avoid disappointment.