What are the main aspects of your role?

I provide PA support to the Director and Deputy Director of Operations and the Director of HR.  I am also the Team Lead for the Corporate PA Team, so I coordinate the teams work, ensure cover is arranged for annual leave, sickness etc. and line manage the two administrators and our reception staff.

What is your morning routine before you get in to the office?

When I was working in London I was much more disciplined at getting up early and going to the gym before work; now I live 10 minutes from the office I get up at the last possible moment! My husband brings me breakfast in bed every day which is a nice way to wake up :). In the summer I walk to work but at the moment it’s usually raining when I leave the house so I’m being very lazy and driving.

What time do you get into the office and what time do you leave?

I will get in between 8.30 and 9am which is pretty civilised (compared to previous roles in the City anyway!). Occasionally I get in before 8am if there’s a meeting or I’m about to go on leave.  I do try and set a good example and leave at 5pm however it’s always at least 5.30pm before I walk out the door and if I’m honest it’s not that unusual for me to still be sat at my desk gone 7pm.

What does an average day look like?

Working for the Director of Operations means it is impossible to have an ‘average day’.  My days are dictated by the pressure on our services across the county. It’s not unusual for a whole week to have to be cleared out of the diary at a moment’s notice if there is a shortage of beds, which certainly keeps everyone on their toes. There is the usual diary shuffling and checking of emails (mine and my bosses), the phone is always ringing and I get a zillion requests for meetings every day, all of which seem to eat up a huge amount of my day.  I have a number of monthly meetings for both departments so I’m always either preparing papers for them, taking minutes at them or chasing actions that arise from them.

A day in the life: Laura O'Malley, Team Lead and Executive PA, Hertfordshire Community NHS Trust

What do you have for lunch?

I am a huge fan of Joe Wicks, The Body Coach and have been following his ‘Lean in 15’ concept for the last couple of years.  As such I tend to batch cook for the week, usually a Thai Green Curry or Beef Stew, and so have the same thing each day – I know that sounds very dull but they’re so tasty I never get bored. Occasionally the team will enjoy ‘dirty sandwich Friday’ where we all go over to the café and indulge in a naughty sandwich.

What is the hardest part of your day?

Chasing people! It could be for meeting papers, information for my Directors or data for reports, not a day goes by without having to chase numerous colleagues for various outstanding pieces of work, regardless of how many reminders you have sent in the lead up to a deadline….

What do you enjoy most about your role?

The variety of my workload. No one day is ever the same and I could be taking minutes at a meeting one minute, responding to an emergency situation in our hospitals or supporting a member of my team in a 1:1 the next. Working within Operations and HR means I get to have my fingers in lots of different pies and I get involved in lots of additional project work.  Currently as well as my day-to-day job I’m working on a development review of administrative staff in the organisation, I’m organising a charity quiz night for all staff and I’m a member of the Health and Wellbeing Committee.

What has been your career highlight?

My recent promotion was a highlight for me and it was lovely to have the support of my team to go from a colleague to the Team Leader.  Last year I was also awarded as a “Leading Light” within the organisation – I was nominated for my work to improve the health and wellbeing of staff throughout the organisation which was a real honour

What do you do in the evening with your spare time?

I’m a member of the local running club so I run with them as often as I can and I do a Kettlebell class two nights a week.  When I’m not out, I’m on the sofa with my husband watching the latest box set we’ve discovered – we’re currently catching up with The 100, on Amazon Prime, it’s very addictive! Usually I will have my colouring in book in hand too – it’s relaxing and great for switching off after work.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to other assistants?

Don’t be afraid to challenge your Directors/Bosses about things in their diaries – it’s our responsibility to manage their time and we can often take a far more objective view than they can as to what needs to be a priority. This in turn will help with your time management.

Make a to-do list and ensure you have identified your ‘top 5 – must achieve today’ items. Again, this helps you to be disciplined in time management and prioritising your workload, making life easier in the long run.

What is the one piece of advice you would give your younger self at the start of your career?

Have more pride in my career – all too often I hear people dismiss those in administrative roles as being ‘just admin’ and surprisingly this sometimes comes from administrators themselves.  Administrative roles are all too often overlooked as providing the vital foundations to the organisation – get your admin support right and you have a secure footing for any business – administrators and managers alike need to remember this!

What would you do if you were not an assistant?

I would love to be an Event Planner, particularly a Wedding Planner.  I got married a couple of years ago and really enjoyed planning every last detail. I love getting the opportunity to arrange events for work so to be able to do that full time would be a dream come true.

What is your favourite app or piece of technology that you could not do your job without?

OneNote – I have only recently discovered this Microsoft package and can’t remember how I ever lived without it.  I use it to keep track of my to-do list, project manage various events and projects, keep notes for 1:1s with my staff and my managers, share notes/minutes from more informal meetings with colleagues, record useful information and contact details, the list is endless!