Today’s Day in the life: Torsten Maerz, PA at Deutsche Bank for Dr. Ulrich Stephan, Global Chief Investment Officer of Private & Commercial Clients in Frankfurt, Germany.
What are the main aspects of your role?
My most important tasks are to make sure my boss is well-prepared for meetings, to take care of his schedule and to ensure that his diary isn’t overloaded. He needs time for emails, preparation, lunch – and I use my initiative to prevent clashes. Also, I read all emails to my boss and assess their importance in order to help him to reply. Another crucial task is meeting organisation, including finding a venue, arranging refreshments and VC-conferences. I also organise his business travel. I make sure that the whole day flows well. Apart from that, I am also responsible for business continuity management and data protection in our department – there is always a task to do!
What time do you get into the office and what time do you leave?
Normally I start working at 08:00 and leave the office between 18:00 and 19:00. However, these times always depend on my boss’ schedule.
What is your morning routine before you get in to the office?
Since I commute to work, on my way to Frankfurt I read lots of books on the train or I like to surf the internet for things that put me in a positive mood.
What does an average day look like?
Emails play an important part during the day. I read mine and my boss’s. The first thing I do in the morning is talk with my boss about the working day ahead including possible changes. We discuss deadlines and preparation that needs to be done and I suggest how I can best support him. Of course, I ensure that he has the correct information and all the relevant documents for his meetings. Since my boss travels a lot, I take care of his travel expenses and supplier invoices. Then, I regularly review all the minutes from the meetings he attends and look if there are any to-dos for him. Sometimes, there are colleagues from abroad in our office and I like to assist them and try to make their visit as pleasant as possible.
What do you do for lunch?
Around the corner from our office in Frankfurt we have a wonderful burger restaurant. It’s called Fletcher’s Burger – I recommend it to everyone who visits the city – try the “Protein style burger” – I promise: you will love it. If my schedule is too tight, I sometimes will just get a salad from the canteen to eat at my desk.
What is the hardest part of your day?
As some of you know, it’s tricky to find last minute meeting rooms! Being reactive and remaining calm under pressure can be hard. For instance, once one of my former bosses was on his way to an event and the train was unexpectedly delayed. I then had to find suitable alternatives to get him there on time, all while speaking with the event manager to see how to amend the schedule, and at the same time dealing with another colleague to change a planned media interview.
One of my rules is: you cannot leave the office until your boss makes it on to the stage.
But honestly, most of the time I think it depends on your mind-set. When you love being a PA and are feeling good about yourself, then even the parts other people think are hard are easy to handle.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Luckily, I have always had the chance to work with very interesting people. I really like to support them and work closely together with them. And, I love working with people from all over the world so that I can speak English, French and German in my job.
What do you do in your spare time?
I am a member of the French-German-Society so I am often invited to special events such as previews of a new French film, chanson-recital-evenings, or special exhibitions. Sometimes I enjoy an evening at the Zarges restaurant in Frankfurt – another place I can highly recommend.
What has been your career highlight?
In a company I worked for previously, I handled official documents that had to be dealt with accurately and at once. It made me very proud to receive a special bonus for quick and precise work with these documents. In another job, I invented a newsletter for one of my former bosses, which was very well received and had a large audience.
On the social side: Every year I sell UNICEF Christmas cards at my office and in other places in Frankfurt. The good thing is, the money raised for UNICEF will always be doubled by Deutsche Bank.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other assistants?
I would advise them to always take a deep breath – it is very important in stressful situations because we are working closely with our bosses and must stay calm during the whole day. I once heard an assistant telling me, “We are not as important.” I was really shocked at this statement and I told her, quite the contrary: we are the ones holding it all together, maintaining a structure and a cool head.
What would you do if you were not an assistant?
When I was younger, my plan was to become a baker. But after doing some work experience when I was still at school, I realised, that going to work at 02:00 and coming home at 11:00 wasn’t for me. However, I am still passionate about baking and often bring my creations to work. Anyone working with me will never go hungry!
Can you recommend any events, website, publications for other assistants?
I can recommend learning a foreign language. I use “dalango.de” for example and brushed up my French skills.