What are the main aspects of your role?
I support both the Artistic Director and Director of Marketing, Communications and Membership. I provide extensive diary management including global travel arrangements, compile reports, agendas and for Committee and Board meetings. I also act as the central point of contact for both Directors which might include meeting clients/suppliers, telephone liaison and managing emails whilst they are away. I also act as Customer Complaints Assistant which means dealing with membership complaints and using my discretion. It is a varied role which is great because no day is ever the same.
What is your morning routine before you get in to the office?
I’m usually woken up by my two cat’s way before the alarm clock goes off, so my morning is usually cleaning out their trays, feeding them and then getting myself ready. I always sit down and enjoy a cup of Nespresso before I leave the house – I only have the one coffee a day so I make sure I enjoy it! I have no appetite when I wake up so tend to have a small bowl of cereal when I get into the office – which has to be with coconut milk.
What time do you get into the office and what time do you leave?
We have flexi-time at the RAD, so it really depends on my bosses’ movements what time I come in and leave. Our core hours are 10-6 but when I can I like to do 9-5 – I’m very flexible when it comes to time-keeping and am happy to work around the clock as necessary. I always like to get in before I need to start the day so I can get organised and be prepared for the day ahead. As I’ve got older I realise that it’s important to have a balanced lifestyle.
What does an average day look like?
Busy – sometimes crazy busy! There is always lots of diary management and setting up meetings. I also get a lot of phone calls from an array of people about all sorts of things. It’s difficult to say I have an average day as it depends what is happening in our calendar i.e. whether we have an event taking place, Board or Committee meetings taking place, if a complaint comes in or if there are press enquires due to a media story that’s broken.
What do you have for lunch?
I used to sit at my desk but this year made a promise to myself I would take a proper break, even if only for half an hour – it really does make a difference and I would recommend it to everyone! I often make lunch dates with various colleagues across departments. I’m lucky because of my work I know pretty much everybody at the RAD (I’m also coming up to nine years tenure!), and I find it helps maintain good working relationships with everyone. So I will either pop to the local pub which does amazing food, or we have a great Italian nearby that has a fab deli counter as well as delicious pasta and pizza!
What is the hardest part of your day?
I don’t think there is necessarily a hard part of my day per se – when we have Board or Committee meetings that can be pressing in the morning trying to prepare and print documents with last minute amends, whilst taking calls and making sure the room is set-up, and most importantly keeping a calm state of mind knowing I will have to minute the meeting. Sometimes I need my bosses to tell me what they would like prioritised if I have a lot of work on so I don’t stress about what to do – I’m not afraid to reach out or ask for help.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
The sheer variety of work – I can be doing anything from preparing a Board report, dealing with a distressed parent, advising a teacher on how to manage a parent, shopping for birthday gifts, attending events at places such as the Royal Albert Hall or Sadler’s Wells, working on a VIP desk or speaking to the likes of Darcey Bussell or Wayne Sleep – I feel very lucky indeed.
What has been your career highlight?
I have been very lucky to be involved with Dance Proms since its launch in 2011. Both Directors for whom I work are heavily involved with the event, and this has given me the opportunity to assist as well. Dance Proms is a partnership project between the IDTA, ISTD, RAD and the Royal Albert Hall, celebrating dance and inspiring creativity for students and teachers. In its first year I was point of contact for Wayne Sleep and arranged filming and interviews for him. Since 2011 we have built up a great working relationship, and for this year’s event I conducted a Q&A session with him which was great fun.
What do you do in the evening with your spare time?
From the question above you’ll have realised I like football – I don’t go to games as much now but always watch Chelsea if we’re on TV/Sky. Aside from that I love going to the theatre and watching dance performances. I enjoy reading a lot and recently went to the Gothic literature exhibition at the British Library with friends – I was surprised at how many of the books I’d read. One of the reasons I gave up my season ticket was so that I could spend more time with family and friends which means a lot to me. Obviously each night ends with my two cats and fussing over them.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other assistants?
Never be afraid to ask for help or to have something explained if you’re unsure. Always use your discretion and trust your gut instinct. You only live once so make suggestions and ask to get involved with projects and tasks if you want to – don’t have any regrets! Network and build relationships with all your colleagues, clients, suppliers – I can’t tell you how much this helps and the wealth of knowledge you can gain. Lastly I would say it is a job – don’t take it personally and enjoy it.
What would you do if you were not an assistant?
I’ve worked on support helplines in the past and counselling, so I think if I wasn’t a PA, I’d like to work with vulnerable children and show them that someone does care and want for their welfare, despite any abuse, suffering or bullying they may have incurred.