Episode Five:
Kate Bos, EA to CEO at APA Group

Episode description

We are delighted to be joined by Emma Kate Bos, Executive Assistant to the CEO at APA Group, Australia’s largest natural gas infrastructure business.

Emma is a highly skilled EA with vast business support, events, project management, and operations knowledge. In our interview, we discussed Emma Kate’s choice to be an Assistant, her love of managing other Assistants and Administrators, building a relationship with a first-time CEO, working strategically, listening to her gut and making decisions.

Show notes


Nicky Christmas 00:00
Do you want to know what it takes to work as a high-performing executive assistant? You'll find out when you listen to the EAA campus podcast. Join me, Nicky Christmas, the founder of practically perfect PA and the EA campus, for a weekly interview with successful assistants who all have first-hand experience and lessons to share on what it takes to excel in the role of tune in, get inspired and learn how to create an assistant career where you are valued, motivated and ready to face every challenge head on whether you are an assistant just starting in your career, or prepared to move to the next level. Building a successful assistant career just got a little easier out of the EAA campus podcast. Welcome to the next episode of the EAA campus podcast. It is so lovely having you with us and Nikki Christmas, and today we are delighted to be joined by Emma Kate, boss, executive assistant to the CEO at APA Group, Australia's largest natural gas infrastructure business. Emma is a highly skilled EA with a huge amount of knowledge in business support, events and project management and operations. And in our interview, we discussed Emma Kate's choice to be an assistant, her love of managing other assistants and administrators, building a relationship with a first-time CEO, working strategically, listening to her gut and making decisions. Enjoy this talk with Emma Kate. Hello, everybody, and welcome to the next episode of the EA campus Podcast. I'm absolutely delighted today to be joined by Emma Kate's boss. Hi there. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks, Vicki. It's a pleasure to be here.

Nicky Christmas 01:50
Where are you podcasting in from today?

from Sydney in Australia, it's probably about 730 In the evening, here is a good time to have some conversations

Nicky Christmas 01:58
is a very good time to have a conversation. I can't wait to dig into your career and learn a little bit more about everything that you've been doing over your AI career. So why don't we start by just letting us know a little bit about your career to date and some of the things that you've been doing as an executive system?

Sure. So currently on AI to the CEO and Managing Director of a company called API group, which is an energy infrastructure company in Australia. It's one of the top companies in Australia quite big. But we're in a change period of energy is definitely changing throughout the world, especially with climate change. So it's an interesting time to be involved in this industry. So for me, it's my first ASX-listed role. So it's been a good learning curve in this current role of the different parts that come with that. But I started my career as a legal assistant in a boutique law firm while I was studying law. And I actually enjoyed it so much. When I finished my degree, I didn't become a lawyer, and I was a paralegal for years. And I actually moved in some to some other roles for a while. And I worked in events. And I worked in operations, and I worked in HR in management roles. So I then came back into EA roles as a CEO, my first one of those probably about ten years ago. And it was fantastic because I used all those skills the whole way through. And I've done some amazing things with some amazing CEOs along the way, travelled the world, tonnes of amazing projects and managed some fantastic teams. So I've been really lucky. And it's been a journey in that I can be a really strategic partner to my executives as well. For me, that's really fulfilling.

Nicky Christmas 03:34
Well, absolutely dig into all of that because you've had such a varied career doing different things. I think it's really interesting that you sound very much like you chose to be an executive assistant when there were a lot of other options there available to you. So we'll come back to all of that. But sticking with the role that you're in at the moment, as you said, it's a really interesting time to be working in the industry, in the energy industry. And I would imagine that you're incredibly busy at the moment. So tell us a little bit about the role that you're in at the moment and some of the aspects of it.

Sure. My CEO is only relatively new, and he's been in the business for some time, but this is his first CEO role. So I was headhunted to come in and help teach him to be CEO from my perspective and ours. And so we've really been looking at the structure of the business. So we've been looking at that, looking at a cadence that aligns with our new strategy. So I've been on the journey with him about the strategy for the business. So we're really looking at it from all aspects. So it's been really interesting to see how you can make that work. I manage a team of our EAS and team assistants as well, and they're a really good team. We've recently been restructured to work better and be able to give a better level of support for some of our roles, more strategic and others and more transactional. We've got 160 sites around the country. And we have a really dive the First workforce Well. We have a lot better fly-in, fly-out workers. We've got a lot there are out on rural properties out and really out in the boondocks, as we say, in Australia. And then we've got a lot of office-based staff as well, really working with a diverse group of people. We're doing a lot of work with governments. We've just had a change of government on the weekend with the recent election. So again, that's a reset for us in different governments, as every country has different agendas with climate especially. So we're currently looking at alternatives, renewable energy, electrification, batteries, and hydrogen. So it's a very exciting time. I'm learning a lot. It's not an industry that I had been in before. So it's, yeah, it's ever-changing.

Nicky Christmas 05:39
Did your CEO have or has had in his past an assistant before? And I wonder? Yeah, so he's worked with an assistant for this is his first CEO role?

Yes. And probably not as much as a strategic assistant because we weren't set up that way. Before I, that is, so it took a while for me to say, I can take that off you. Can I do that for you? Shall I go and fix that for you? And you say, can you? I said, Of course, I can. So it's been that, and of course, the more you work together and build that relationship, you're more you can do, so the other day said, Can you write that, you know, for doing the first draft of that board paper for me. So I can that comes with time. And also to say to me, you don't need to do that, you're up, you need to do this, don't get in the weeds, because he was learning about being a CEO as well. So it's that really two-way partnership. And it's really enjoyable because we've been on the journey together because I was new to the business, and he was new to the CEO role. It's a learning curve every single day, and it doesn't stop. It doesn't matter how long you've worked together. We've been working together for nearly three years, and we're still learning and adjusting. And that didn't work as well as it could, could it? Nope. Okay, let's reset and do that again. So it's a continual conversation?

Nicky Christmas 06:52
And has it been the case that you've come in at these certain points in your careers where it's naturally been that you do feel like a partnership? Because, as you said, that comes with time. But I would imagine that also comes with the kind of situation and scenario that you've both found yourself in where it's very, it seems equal, and you're both able to complement each other and help each other with that, is that something you'd say?

Yes, definitely. And I've had. I've worked for smart CEOs. I would say, in the sense that they realize that you can add value to them. And that's really important. I think that's how you make it work really well. One of my bosses says, there's not me, there's you and I, there's a team, and I can't work without you. It doesn't work. And it really does. Once you get that really good rhythm together, that's exactly how it works. And I'm not talking about it, but they're so dependent on you that they can't find their way to a meeting room. I'm talking about making their life strategically better, getting to the point of things quickly, and using the best using their time in the best way they can.

Nicky Christmas 07:49
So how have you found that energy industry? As you said, it's incredibly complex and complicated. And on top of that, as you said, in Australia, there's just been a government change. And with that comes different policies and different ideas and things like that. So I wonder how you've kept on top of just your understanding of that sector? How have you gone about building your knowledge?

I asked the CEO lots of questions, too. And he's, I've said that, in my interview with him, that I will ask questions because I want to understand what we're doing quite often. There are lots of acronyms. And that's hard to always pick up on it in any industry. But, in my onboarding, I made sure I met with every group exec, and I met with a lot of our general managers as well, on a regular basis. And so I had one just tonight, and I said, I don't understand about what we're doing with this, the general manager, she sat down with me and said, We're doing this, and this is how this connects, and that how that connects. And I said, Oh, thank you. That's so helpful. So it's asking a lot of questions. I read a lot about his life. Obviously, you read his emails, but I read board papers that are coming through. I read committee papers as much as I can to try and understand because I need to take minutes quite often in a meeting. And I need to understand what they're talking about. But there's a lot I still don't, but because it's so technical, I understand the overarching ideas in every area. So

Nicky Christmas 09:06
yeah, getting a general understanding, particularly when you are in meetings and taking the minutes and things like that. It's such a helpful app. Absolutely. Especially as you said, with acronyms and things like that, it's just any industry has those, so it's always worth knowing what they are. I want to move on because we're going to spend a lot of time talking about your career, but I'd like to get a sense of what your life looks like outside of work as well. So why don't we start at the beginning and talk about what your morning routine looks like?

Oh, I see the time it's trying to drag myself out of bed, but it's usually walking the dogs making sure the kids are awake, getting them going checking my emails first thing in the morning. I'm not required to, but for me, it gives me comfort, and it gives me a bit of thinking time about how I'm going to get my day going. It's just checking if I need to text my CEO with anything urgent that's come overnight. Suppose he hasn't seen it. I could urgently add things to his day pack if he needs them straight away on the bus in the morning to work. Again, it's just checking anything else that's come through. And then it's actually reading the morning papers because I want to know what's going on in the world. Because that often can have an impact. So I can get in and say, oh, gosh, did you see that article this morning about this? And this, or I saw that one of the ministers had said this, have you seen that, or we were in the paper about that. So it's paying across the world events as well, is really important. And I found that I worked in Lego for a long time. And I was always scouring the papers for anything on our clients. So I knew about things about them as well,

Nicky Christmas 10:29
is a good way to build rapport with your executive as well. Isn't it that you're reading the same things as them, or you can bring some things to them that they might not have had time to look at themselves? And just again, just showing that understanding that willing willingness to be a partner with them? That's right.

And for a lot of businesses post-COVID. It's really looking at what's hybrid working now on businesses. So I'm always scaring articles about that and say, Oh, look, Google is doing this, or this company is doing that. And it's helping him find some comparisons so we can help form our own policies and what we might do. So it's bringing some of that stuff to their attention as well. So yeah, it's adding value that we're

Nicky Christmas 11:07
talking about hybrid, what was your situation? And during COVID? And the lockdown, were you able to get into the office? Or are you working from home? How did it affect you?

So under our government were called an essential service because we're energy infrastructure. So for the, we've had two major lockdowns in Sydney. So the first one, I was probably in the office two or three days a week, just the CEO and I and a couple of other leadership and the leadership team, their second lockdown, we were at home for three months straight. And then we came into the office earlier probably than other people and other industries for us. We needed to be because we also, too, probably didn't have the technology at the start to work from home easily. And we have to rush some technology through to be able to do that as well.

Nicky Christmas 11:48
Yeah. And then you're near to the office. You said that you commute in via bus. So you've fairly close by

15 minutes. So it's easy, nice.

Nicky Christmas 11:57
That's handy. So you can almost walk through the office if you have to,

which I have done.

Nicky Christmas 12:05
What does an average day look like for you, then? So going once you're in the office? I know that's always a tough question to ask in a system because what does an average day look like? But just to get a sense of it, talk us through what a general day looks like.

I think, as you say, no two days are alike. And I think a lot of my days are full of conversations with people. It's someone coming to you asking for advice on I need to get this through to the board meeting. How can I get this done? What steps do I need to take? Who do I have to consult? It can be we need to send these communications out to the whole business, and who should be the right person to send it? So it's lots of guidance. And probably, problem-solving is a big part of my day. I'm in the leadership, all the leadership meetings so that I can be three days straight in meetings at times during the month. Today was our board meeting. So I was in and out doing lots of bits and pieces there. Lots of diary management doesn't matter what role you have in that diary. You can't get rid of it. And to manage that strategically actually takes a lot of time. Lots of drafting of documents and replying to emails or conversations are probably the bulk of my day with people.

Nicky Christmas 13:12
And how much time do you spend managing the team that you have there, you said again, that you were you'd been restructuring how they work and working more strategically. And just understanding the difference between being strategic and being transactional. So how much of your time is spent managing other staff and other assistants?

at the moment, probably a little bit more. But because we've had four new staff members, we've just onboarded. So it's really helping them navigate helping them navigate their way through the business. But otherwise, it's probably lots of corridor conversations and coming up with solutions. So it's when quite often we might have to have an executive leadership team meeting with two days' notice and trying to juggle that with everyone's diary. So we do a lot of negotiating with each other, and we have each other's back. So I'm not rigid with a diary that I won't flex for other people because I know what it's like when I need that. It's that, but it's also to checking in and making sure they're okay, helping them solve any problems they've got as well, not too much because a lot of them have been in the business and most of our team have been in the business 10 to 15 years. So I often go for them to ask them process questions, but we'll really learn to be more of a cohesive team than we were before. There was a bit more siloed before, so it's that just really working together. So it's really good, actually.

Nicky Christmas 14:28
Is there any advice you could give to assistants that are at your level that are interested in managing other assistants? Is it something that you've always wanted to do? Or is it something that's just coming up with this role?

I've managed a team of 20 assistants before.

Nicky Christmas 14:46
that's a lot of personalities.

Exact exactly. I love it. I find it really rewarding. I find that ability to mentor and coach other team members are just watching someone go borrow and light bulb moments, but also they teach you a lot of things as well. It's a two-way street. And I think it's really learning to listen to people listening and hearing, and helping them get some wins and helping them get through some obstacles. But also, sometimes it's giving people tough love, and helping them get, sometimes you get in your own way sometimes, and helping them block you're getting some of those blockages. And yes, sometimes you have to have had to have some really honest conversations with people. And they're hard, but they've learned from them and grown. So it's really rewarding at times, and it's worth it if it's something you're interested in.

Nicky Christmas 15:38
Yeah, I think it's exactly it's understanding the whole kind of 360s being a manager, isn't it? It's mentoring, but it's also having those difficult conversations sometimes. So think if you're gonna go into management, you've got to be well aware of that, that your communication skills, skills need to be senior level.

That's right, and also to every person is different, and they will react differently. So having that understanding, if someone's an introvert or an extrovert, is really important. It's all those things. So I know with some of my team, I need to deliver the same message in two different ways sounds.

Nicky Christmas 16:10
like it's a very full-on role in that there is a lot going on, and it's busy. But I wonder if you managed to get any time for yourself throughout the day. I always know when you, particularly everybody, going back into the office, the thought of a lunch break again seems a bit odd, but I just wonder if you managed to get any breaks during the day to recharge.

Sure. 100% It is very rare I don't go outside, and I make sure, at least even if it's for 10 minutes, that I go outside for a walk because it's I find it really energizes me and it also clears my head. If I have time, I'll go to a Pilates class around the corner, which is already 40 minutes. So that's good, but definitely, a walk every day, even if it's just walking to get my lunch, and I sit somewhere for five minutes. To me, it makes me much more productive in the afternoon. And every set reset is really important. I know in the past, I haven't done that. And you can get burnout. So it does. It's definitely worth taking that time. It's not selfish. It's actually being kind to yourself.

Nicky Christmas 17:05
Yeah, I think that it seems to be that lesson that a lot of people have learned coming out of the pandemic, that regular breaks are so important, but just getting away from your screen, going outside and getting some fresh air. I think so many assistants, particularly pre-pandemic, would have just gotten through the day and kept going. But it seems like, from every system that I've talked to you about recently, that seems to be a more regular thing, which is very good for your mental. I don't want to dwell on anything that's too negative. But I know being an assistant can be challenging. So I wonder what you find to be the most challenging part of your day,

I think sometimes people's urgent items aren't necessarily my urgent items. So whenever something to the last minute, and they throw you a bomb, and you have to fix it, is sometimes that's hard to manage. And it's saying to people. I understand this is urgent for you. But I've got 30 other urgent things that are just as important. And we will work through this together. And I think it's making sure you say to people, I've got you. But we've got to juggle this a little bit. I think the diary is also a headache quite often when they say just another 15-minute meeting, and there's no 15 minutes and making sure everyone gets valuable time for those meetings. Sometimes there's just not enough time in the data isn't the end. It's, again, just trying to cope with okay. I couldn't get everything done today. And that's okay. And that's a realization you get the older you get to is sometimes you can work yourself to the bone, and you still haven't got through everything. So it's just making sure you get the critical done and prioritizing each day. You have to reprioritize each day to make sure that you keep everything going, and keeping your executive in the loop about where you are with things makes a really big difference.

Nicky Christmas 18:44
Yeah, it definitely helps. Isn't it just not having those? I suppose when you leave the office, at the end of the day, you don't want to be thinking to yourself, What happened? I told my executive what might come up tomorrow. That's a conversation that they're on, something that they're unaware of, because using the system that's just going to play around the rest of your evening until you're back into the office the next day. So yeah, communication is so important and making sure you kind of play clear the decks before you leave for the day. So there aren't any scares for your executive cut back on a point that you made there about else's urgent stuff isn't necessarily your urgent stuff. How do you've said it so eloquently there that it's making sure that they know you've got them, but then making them understand that it's maybe not your urgent or priority at that moment? So I just wonder if there's any advice, or any kind of Converse, the conversation that you have with people when those things frequently come up, as they always do?

Yeah, that's right. And quite often, I will say look. I will say we will get there you're just going to have to bear with me for a little bit because the CEO is in a meeting to four o'clock so I can't fix this for you until at least four o'clock and it's managing their expectations or when you might be able to fix it and sometimes I have to say I just can't do it by the time you need it. I will try my best, but I might not, but nine times out was him we get today. I couldn't fix something today for someone because we had internet issues, and I just couldn't fix it. But I already put a plan and solution in place and said it's getting fixed tonight, we'll do it at nine o'clock tomorrow, it will happen. And they're happy with that. So I think it's keeping people informed of where you're at all the time and saying, We're nearly there. Hang on. We'll get there. So then usually, then I have a conversation with him. Okay, next time, let's see how we can prepare for this better. So it's not a scolding of that person. But it's saying, Look, we can do this better. So it's really easier for all of us. And I've had a lot of those conversations because we've been quite a reactive business. And we're really starting now to learn to be more proactive and think ahead. And so we had a conversation about something else last week with one department. And so we've planned out the next three months now really easy. And everyone's already automatically karma. So again, it's the approach. And it's we are a team, I'm not this gatekeeper, that's not going to help you. It's we're all in this together. So I think that's really important.

Nicky Christmas 20:59
Yeah, that's brilliant. How much value are you adding now that you can see that there's a problem? There's clearly a problem here. Because of this, These things shouldn't be as urgent as they are. So let's come in and see if we can put a plan in place so that these things don't happen. Again, I think that's something that so many assistants can add so much value where they can add so much value because you are coming in and planning is something that assistants, so very good app, it just has that confidence to offer the skills that you have.

That's right. And then when you start delivering, and they say it works, it makes it really fun. Like I said, this is to make life easy for you, for me, and for the executives, and everyone's much happier. And when it starts happening like that, it's really good.

Nicky Christmas 21:41
So what are the most enjoyable aspects of your day?

I love solving problems. I must admit, it's breaking down an issue and finding the solution. And even sometimes it's pulling a rabbit out of the hat, which you think, how did I pull that off, and you just made something work. Sometimes when an executive says, I've got a challenge for you, go, Oh, my goodness, okay, and you make it happen. It's just really good. But I also like working on a project from start to finish and seeing how you get a really great outcome from something and using all your learnings that you've had in your career and how you can say things. And for us as a team, we're creating a voice that we didn't have before. And I've got some really great talent that has just joined the business. And today they've already made Oh, look. We could do it this way. That way, I said, fantastic. That's exactly what I'm looking for from you. To help us move forward. Never be afraid to offer advice or what you've done in another business because we might not know that. So it's I encourage everyone to look outside the box. And when they do, amazing things happen.

Nicky Christmas 22:40
Can you share with any of those rabbits that you've pulled out of a hat some of the things that you've managed to just do that you never thought would be possible?

Ah, let's say I am one of my roles. I had got seconded to our national office for something, and I was there to do one task, but I was able to Overwatch what they were doing another side project at the same time. And then, when my second comment finished, my boss said to me, can you do that for our state now in six weeks' time, run that project? Okay, sure. And you've got to make this much money from it. Okay, but I pulled it out of the hat. And I don't know how I did it. But we pulled resources in, and we did it. And sometimes, again, it comes back to observing and learning and asking the right questions. And then we're able to do it maybe not perfectly as slick as the other one because we had such a short time to do it in. But there are lots of things like that. I've done office fits that fit out around the country. And I hadn't done that before. And it was the experience of working in administration. Knowing what people need in an office really makes a big impact because we're the ones that are setting up boardroom meetings or running events. So we know what we need. We know what you need at a desk and what helps everybody. Those are the kinds of things I sometimes encounter. I do that. I've got no experience in that. But give it a go. I

Nicky Christmas 23:53
made it happen. Brilliant. You might have answered this question already. But I wonder if you can give us your career highlight.

So it was organizing a study tour of Australian cheer men and women to the USA. And we were able to meet with ambassadors, business leaders in America, and their version of The Wall Street Journal. We did lots of different things there. And I met the most amazing people and worked with our ambassadors in American America and some of them on the American US side. So I learned different things about the culture, but also just the arrangements you need to make there. And just the smart people in every room and just sitting and listening to everything was just such an amazing experience. And these chairmen who are leaders of big businesses treated me as an equal in all that everything we did, and they laughed and joked with you and made fun of you, and it's just such a great experience.

Nicky Christmas 24:46
That sounds amazing. Wow. Well, that's what you mentioned earlier, actually, that you've travelled the world in the executive assistant role. So just wonder again, any advice you can give to assistants who travel with their executives if there's anything that you've experienced over the years that the other assistants should be aware of?

Yeah, look, there are some assistants that travel a lot, especially if they've got aboard. That's an international board. So they will do a lot of those things. It's, again, asking the questions because what is acceptable in manners wise or protocol in Australia may not be in another country. So to be very mindful of the cultures of where you're going to is very important. Making sure your CEO and executives are prepared fully is very important because you might not have access to printers or technology over there. So it's the planning ahead that makes a huge difference, being open to different experiences when you are there. Because again, the cultural things are really fantastic learning experiences. as well. Planning ahead is the biggest thing you need to do.

Nicky Christmas 25:45
Because I think you would probably find you need to when you are travelling, you've got to look after yourself as well, haven't you, you've got planned for your trip, and all of those kinds of things and look after your family every annual responsibility at home, so it could be easy to get you've also got to your day job of looking after your executive as well. It must be a tricky balance, making sure you're both okay. That's right. And I often say it's fine for you, you go home, but I've still gotta go home, cook dinner, Do this, do that and still look after you and you get home. And it's all done for you. But yeah, it's quite funny. But yeah, look, travelling the world is really interesting. And just meeting different people is just fantastic as well. It's an amazing opportunity that assistants can get it, so they're in rooms with amazing people. And it's just finding those opportunities. It always helps you learn and develop as well. So it's well worth doing if you get the opportunity. Let's go back to what life is like for you outside of work. I wondered, when you're done and dusted in the days over, what do you do with the rest of your time?

I play netball competitively still,

Nicky Christmas 26:44
I love netball, big netball fan.

Oh, there, you got Commonwealth games coming up. We will beat England yet again. I hope I'm here since I play about two or three times a week competitions go to the gym a lot. I spent a lot of time walking the dog, the kids watching kids' sports and catching up with friends as well. So I've lived in Sydney my whole life too. So I've got a very strong family and friend base there as well. So I don't sit still very much. Not very good at that. And very lucky in Australia that most of the time the weather is really pleasant. So you can be outside a lot. Even in winter, you're out walking in a T-shirt and shorts because it's warm enough to go for an 8k Walk or is it things like that? I live close to the beaches. So I've spent a lot of my time on Bondi Beach and other beaches like that. So it's a great lifestyle.

Nicky Christmas 27:32
It's a beautiful part of the world to live in. It's an amazing city. So I know what it must be. It must be lovely to just have that climate, and the people there are great. So I can only imagine how lovely your evenings and weekends are. But not to make it a netball podcast. But what position do you play?

goalkeeper. Very good.

Nicky Christmas 27:51
Not an easy position. I played that last night.

Yeah, most of my team are only like 24. And I'm old enough to be their mother.

Nicky Christmas 28:04
Yeah, there are different goals with a goalkeeper position. You are able to see the courts. You can be much more strategic in how you play exactly right,

less energy used.

Nicky Christmas 28:12
Brilliant. So going back to being an assistant, what's one piece of advice you would offer to assistants who are just starting in the role?

I think it is, most importantly, to back yourself up and have the confidence to do that. And put your hand up for things. So I think what's helped my career is I'm interested in something, and I say, can I be on that committee? Or can I be the tester for that programme? Or four often said to my bosses, can I give that a shot for you? I can try I. Can you let me see if I can do it for you? And I've had really fantastic executives that have let me do that. And it's helped me grow a lot, or I've also been quite open about whether I can try this, let me and I do, so I've actually helped them a lot more along the way. And I've also been very upfront in saying the more you let me in the inner circle, the more I can help you. If you don't tell me what's going on, I can't help you anywhere near as much. And they've been very open to that. And it has actually really helped build the relationship that being an AI can take you anywhere in the world. It's one of those few careers that you can do anywhere.

Nicky Christmas 29:19
Absolutely. The skills are so transferable, aren't they, and from industry to industry, the assistant role is obviously there are differences, but the core skills are so similar that it offers up so many opportunities to come back to the point you've made there. Have there been times when you've put yourself forward for things, and maybe they've not quite worked out as you would expect? And how have you kind of bounced back from any challenges or kind of mistakes that you might have made?

Yeah, I look, we all make them, don't wait, and sometimes the relationship between your executive and your yourself is really important, and I once did make an error in my gut. I should have listened to my gut, and I didn't, and the person I was supporting, I probably wasn't. We weren't the right fit. And I should have really listened. And so I had a lot of self-doubt after that, thinking I didn't trust my gut when I should have. And I left a perfectly good job to go to this role when I should have listened to myself. And I was lucky enough that I was able to find another great role not long after that, but for me, there is no longevity in a role. It felt like a failure. Yeah, I

Nicky Christmas 30:29
think that's so common, isn't it? It's such a common, not mistake because it's not a mistake. But it's such a common part of the career path for assistants because that fit with your executive is so important. And sometimes you pick positions and roles that may offer more prestige, or more money or whatever it happens to be more opportunities, and they don't work out because that fit with your executive, isn't there? I think that's very common. That takes a while to bounce back from that, doesn't it? When did you say you didn't trust your instincts?

Yeah. And I should have because it was the alarm bells was going off. And I but I had worked at this company before. And it was a great experience, but with a different manager. So I should have trusted. So trust you got

Nicky Christmas 31:10
everybody. Yeah, yeah. And as you said, it's done. I think you can that can be explained on a CV for an assistant when the maybe the time in that one organization is a very long because it is that relationship. And it's so important if it's not working. And quite often, finding another executive finds in another organization is the only way to go. But it's explained as well. I think

that's right, and I think your morals have to align. I think that's a big part of it as well. That's for me anyway, but everyone's different.

Nicky Christmas 31:37
Yeah. So what do you think you would do if you weren't an assistant? I'm really hoping the answer is a superstar netball player. But

unfortunately, I actually would probably be a criminal profiler in the police department. Because I was going to be a psychologist at university, and I did law and criminology. And when I did go to university, I became addicted to crime podcasts. So that was the other area I was really interested in. When I started uni.

Nicky Christmas 32:04
Have you found those skills useful? As an executive assistant? I would imagine quiet.

Yes. Because you're often a detective, aren't you where you get this tiny little bit of information, and you have to track something down? And you get to scribble on a piece of paper, and you go, Oh, my goodness. And then you work it out? And yeah, or it's like, your manager will say, I need you to fix this. So you've got to connect all the dots. And sometimes it's connecting all the personalities as well, isn't it? Yeah. And so knowing that that person is going to react.

Nicky Christmas 32:37
Yeah. And there's, you know, there's a lot of, as you said, personalities, psychopaths.

Exactly. And I sometimes think, too, you are people's counsellor, as well, quite often people come to you with their problems. And you're like, do you want me to fix it on my just listening? And you're just listening? Okay, no worries or? So you get a bit of that as well.

Nicky Christmas 32:55
That's absolute. It's a great skill to have. As you said, you know, one of the things you love about the role is the problem-solving aspects. It makes so much more sense there. You've said, you know, the backgrounds and things like that, I can imagine it's really helpful. So what's the one thing that you would say makes you grateful for being an assistant?

I think it's definitely having, as I said earlier, managers that have been supportive of you. I've never forgotten what my father said. I took my gap year. And that's when I did my secretarial course. And he said, do that thought, Okay? And he said being an assistant will take you anywhere in the world or any place you want to go as long as you do the work. And he was actually right. And having good mentors along the way makes a big difference in everything you do. But I don't know. I just, it's a career that it's been more recognized as a career now too, which is really great. In Australia, we've got some really great advocates for us as a career. We recently had the Australian admin Awards, which didn't just focus on EAS; it focused on focus on all administrative roles. And I was one of the panel judges in that. And it was the most rewarding experience I've ever had. Actually, it was fantastic. So it's a really good career, and the world's your oyster, I think. And you can take it in whatever direction you want it to be.

Nicky Christmas 34:18
As there been any surprises along the way for you, maybe something that you hadn't considered before you did become an executive assistant,

actually, all the other roles I did in between, from being a legal assistant to coming back to EA to a CEO, all those roles helped me to be a better EA. And I never had put two and two together. But doing event management operations. I did a lot of work in politics and learned a lot there to all that gained knowledge I had made me a full circle; EA is probably the best way. So sometimes a comms team did something. I can rewrite a media release now, but it just gave me a really broad skill set. So I was actually quite surprised, and when I went to recruit, Just saying I'd like to be an AI to CEO, the recruiter said to me, you'll never be an aide or CEO because your careers have been too broad. And I thought I bet I find myself the right CEO. And he said You're exactly what I want. I want someone with broad experience, and then you can bring everything together. And that's was the biggest surprise that I found the right CEO, and I found like-minded CEO since,

Nicky Christmas 35:23
yeah, that's brilliant. It's you need that sometimes you need that bad advice, don't you just to give you that extra push, because that's really silly advice that you, you were given their broader, the better, they can bring so much to an assistant role. Obviously, the key skills are there. But I think CEOs, particularly these days, need one executive assistant who is able to partner with them and offer different solutions and

options, so yeah, the more experience, the better. And you have, what's really interesting about the role is that I have a seat at the table. But I don't have all the responsibility, which is really good in that sense. Like I have input. In a leadership meeting, my opinion is asked quite often, and I'm encouraged to speak up more, which is really empowering. But yeah, I have all the input. And it's quite good. Because I don't like to be in the front, like a lot of assistants you like don't like to be in the spotlight. But I get to be in the thick of things, which that's the part I really enjoy.

Nicky Christmas 36:17
That's such a good way of putting it, isn't it? Rather than being in the spotlight, being in the thick of things? I think so many assistants will think. Actually, that's a perfect analogy of where I want to be, as well. So yeah, thank you for that. That's such great advice and wisdom that you've passed on to our listeners today. Before we wrap up, I want to ask if there are any tools or technology or resources or anything like that you would recommend for our listeners.

Sure. For me, I can't survive without OneNote even though it's quite a sort of an older product. It actually works quite well if you're working one-to-one with someone. And I found during the pandemic that it really helped us to be connected remotely. And it's been a really good way for my CEO and I not to miss anything together. So he has all these actions in there. He's got all these papers, these scribbles notes to me all the time. And that whole talk of what we're talking about before was keeping him informed. I write little notes. You met this person at this stage. This is the background, blah, blah, blah, ready for a meeting. Or I say you haven't had an opportunity to talk about this yet. This is my give him the background for lots of things. So it's a one-stop shop for us to be able to communicate if we can't get to see each other as well. I love having SharePoint and OneDrive on my phone because, again, I could be home at eight o'clock at night. And he might need something urgent, and I can just press send in two seconds and send him something, but in relation to education and blogs, I will say that I love my practically perfect PA. It's been a really great resource for me over the years. I actually use it all the time. And I think we've talked about before the 100 words, the minute taking I use all the time, especially when I get stuck for a word. And there are lots of really good templates there, and I out more junior EAS, I you know, take them through lots of things on that there's not a lot of resources in Australia, for EAS that gives them such great information. So it's been a godsend for me your site, it's been amazing in their blogs, and I use them because often something comes up, and I know there was a blog about that. And I can guide one of our team members to Australia. We're probably getting to a stage where we need some more education. Really targeted education for EAS, there are good there are more companies like the AI institute that is probably more of a personal journey. And it really helped with your confidence and what you can do and really helped develop you. But for more senior A's, there really isn't much. I looked at some conference brochures, and there are three things in there I'd like to go to but the other six, maybe not. So I have recently completed the Your Excellencies mini MBA for assistants, which is run from London. And again, that's not teaching you how to be an AE. That's teaching you about businesses, strategy and stakeholder management and marketing. And again, that's for someone more senior wanting to be more strategic. So I think there's a really big market for different stages of your career. And I think we need to do a lot more of it. So we can because, you know, our roles are constantly changing. And to keep us active. And I think businesses are starting to get behind education for EAS a lot more than they did in the past. So I was a test crash dummy, as you would say in our business, to do that course. And now the rest of our team are able to do that course if they wish. But there are a lot more providers in Australia looking at that because there's a big gap. There are also some really good conferences that are skill-based. So tech skills and so I think that's an area we can always learn from. There are lots of LinkedIn blogs. I'm on so many subscriber lists from different all around the world. There are Facebook groups for EAS, and they're amazing little tidbits you can find, and when we've travelled overseas, I can email saying, hey, anyone in New York, could you give me a heads up for this? So there are some great connections you can make with us. So be curious. Here's my biggest piece of advice look for things. You're responsible for your education, not your manager. And you know, they will back you up when you come to them with things that you want to do.

Nicky Christmas 40:12
Yeah, it that's so well put in is looking outside the assistant role as well, isn't it and finding resources and things that help you, I'm sure as you are doing help you to learn about the industry that you are in, as well as other skills that might be necessary for you and tools and things like that. There's there is so much opportunity out there for assistants to get a whole variety of training that's at different price points and things like that. So she said, I think this is becoming particularly from when I started as an assistant. There is so much available now. And it's brilliant for all different aspects of the role.

That's right. And I couldn't do my job without all those resources. Just couldn't; it makes you such a more wholesome AI. Yeah, absolutely.

Nicky Christmas 40:59
It's been an absolute joy talking to you today. Thank you so much for your time and all of the wonderful advice that you gave to our listeners today. It's a real pleasure talking to you.

Thank you so much, and I look forward to seeing small podcasts.

Nicky Christmas 41:16
Thanks so much, Kate. Thank you so much for listening to the EA campus podcast today. We would love for you to take a minute to subscribe to the EA campus podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. If you could give us a review, we would so appreciate that as well. If you want to check out the show notes, you can do that by going over to the AI campus.com forward slash podcast, forward slash Episode Five Emma Kate boss and take a look at everything we discussed. You can also find all of the links to the resources, articles and tech that we mentioned during the show. If you want to join the conversation inside the AI campus community, you will also find all of the information on the AI Campus website. The community continues to grow, and we have an amazing group of assistants sharing their careers. We have ongoing events and training for our members. And we would love to see ambitious and great driven assistants join. Thanks for your time, and I hope you tune in again to the next episode of the EAA campus podcast.

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