Enjoy today’s interview with Stuart Martin, EA at Spotify which is full of Executive Assistant Tips and Tricks.
What are the main aspects of your role?
I support one of the Vice Presidents within the Research & Development division here at Spotify. My primary responsibility is to ensure that he has everything he needs and is exactly where he needs to be. This includes complex diary management, coordinating door-to-door international travel across multiple time-zones and more recently event management too.
What is your morning routine before you get into the office?
My alarm goes off at 7:15 AM and I spend the first 15 minutes catching up on the technology news websites that I follow before throwing myself into the shower. I am a huge technology geek, and I like to try to stay ahead of the game as much as possible.
I live down in Brighton, so I commute up to London most days(!). I love having the beach on my doorstep, but my career will always be up in the big smoke. I use my train time to focus on the day ahead; I have around an hour to catch up on anything that has come in overnight, reply to emails, review the calendar etc.
What time do you get into the office and what time do you leave?
I get to the office just before 10 AM and try to leave around 5:30 PM. My boss starts at 10 AM too and considers my train time to be working time, so it makes my mornings much less stressful with the commute as the trains are quieter. I try and get out of the door on time to beat the commute but switch back on when I get onto the train to tie up any loose ends.
What does an average day look like?
Every day is of course different. It is one of the main reasons I love being an assistant because of the variety of tasks that we work on. Typically, I will get into the office, ensure that my boss has meeting rooms mapped to all of his appointments for the week ahead, catch up on Slack messages from the team in Stockholm and New York and then start working through my ‘active to-do list’.
I turn off the functionality on Gmail so that it doesn’t mark your emails as read automatically. I file everything that has been completed so that it leaves me with an inbox of things that actively need my attention which are colour coded based on how urgent they are.
What do you do for lunch?
We are incredibly lucky at Spotify to have fridges full of food so more often than not. I will grab something from the kitchen. On Wednesdays, we have City Pantry come into the office where we can choose an amazing lunch from one of the local restaurants or vendors.
What is the hardest part of your day?
That’s a tough question. Perhaps fighting the urge to graze on the crisps and biscuits in the office throughout the day?
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Spotify is an incredibly unique place to work. I’m incredibly proud to work for a company where you can be your authentic-self, every day and it’s actively encouraged. Additionally, knowing I’m part of a change-the-world company where we want to give a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art – You feel like you are part of something very special.
What has been your career highlight?
I was recognised as SecsInTheCity’s PA of the year in 2014 – The first boy to be awarded this honour, so I was delighted. I’ve also been lucky enough to work for some incredible companies over the years such as L’Oréal, Skype, Universal Film and Saatchi & Saatchi – Companies I could have only dreamed of working at when I first started out.
What do you do in the evening with your spare time?
I’m involved in some PA networks, so you will often find me trying out a new restaurant or scouting out a new hotel. I love to meet other like-minded assistants to knowledge share and bounce ideas off – After all, we are all doing something similar, it’s just the personalities we look after or the industry that’s a little different.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to other assistants?
You aren’t saving lives. All you can do is the best that you can. Nobody can fault you for that.
What would you do if you were not an assistant?
I would have been an IT support technician. It was the career I set out to do, but life had a different plan for me. I was meant to go to university to do a computing degree, but I was working at marketing company at the time (one that preached the importance of social media before Facebook and how mobile was going to be the next big thing before it was a thing!). I realised I was working with an incredibly talented group of individuals and decided to stick around.
What is the one piece of technology, app or website you could not do your job without?
It’s so hard to choose but here are a few that spring to mind:
- Google Meet – You will often find me on calls daily with Stockholm & New York. It took some getting used to as everyone can see your note-taking in real time which was daunting.
- Slack – We use this internally and its fantastic for cross-collaboration, sharing documents, creating channels to discuss particular topics with large groups and the messaging function is excellent too.
- Trello – I am super new to using it, but it has changed my life. It is a task management app that gives you a visual overview of what you are working on and who is working on it.
Can you recommend any events, books, publications, websites, training programmes for other assistants?
- PA Networks – The Assistant Room, The PA Club and Miss Jones have been a great opportunity to meet like-minded assistants while getting to try out new restaurants, event spaces and hotels that are relevant for my role. I have managed to find the best places to send my bosses for lunch, dinner and even found a Christmas party venue too!
- Training – Pitman Training was incredible when I first decided that I wanted to be an assistant. They helped me build out my existing skills; I learned to touch type, improve my typing speed, complete advanced Microsoft training and I even did their taster courses on PR and Marketing too.
- Venue Finding: Miss London Concierge is a free venue discovery concierge service. I trust them with ALL my venue finding. They take the stress away that comes with finding somewhere suitable and take the time to understand your needs and your brand too.