Episode Sixteen: Rebecca Steifle, EA to the CEO of Renewable Water Resources
In this episode, we are delighted to have Rebecca Steifle, an Assistant with over 27 years of experience in executive administration, organizational management, sales and corporate governance. In the interview, we discussed Becca’s career in banking, how she moved into an Assistant role, and how she builds relationships with her Executives and manages expectations. We discussed the Assistant network at ReWa and the need for Assistants to collaborate and share best practices.
Podcast Becca Steifle Final
Tue, Jan 17, 2023 10:49AM • 45:18
assistant, people, ceo, organisation, role, career, opportunities, absolutely, job description, job, podcast, work, important, board, learn, office, meeting, bit, interruptions, banking
Nicky Christmas, Becca Steifle
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 EA 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 prepare to move to the next level. Building a successful assistant career just got a little easier with the EA campus podcast. Welcome everybody to the next episode of the EA campus Podcast. I'm absolutely delighted to have Becker Stiefel with us today. Becca Hi there. Nice to have you with us.
Becca Steifle 00:56
Hi, Nikki, thank you so much. I'm very honoured to be with you today. Appreciate you reaching out to me and asking me to join you were delighted
Nicky Christmas 01:02
to have you with us. So we always start the podcast trying to get a sense of your career to date. So if you could just let us know some of the things you've done and your experience as you've worked through the executive assistant role.
Sure, I have a bit of an untraditional path, I would probably say I spent 20 years in the banking industry. 18 of those were were the community bank, two of those were with a commercial bank, I did start out as an administrative assistant to get my foot in the door, I can very vividly remember interviewing for that job. And I was walking out of the door and stopped, walked back in and told the person I was interviewing with that if he would just let me get my foot in the door, I would not be sitting outside of his office as his assistant for very long. And six months later, I was promoted. So I kept my promise to him. So in that community bank, I did a lot of different things, and will audit loan administration commercial lending. And I ended my career there as vice president of treasury services managing an $80 million deposit portfolio. And so I did have a great opportunity with a commercial bank and I went there. But it was a little too high pressure sales for me. And it got away from those core values of my community bank relationship building, getting to know your customers. And so I really wanted to find I wanted to go back to my roots, so to say. So it took me about nine months. But I landed here at renewable water resources. And the culture here is my community banks, corporate culture on steroids. I absolutely love it. I love our core values. I love the people. So I am I began here as an executive administrative assistant to our C suite and to our Board of Commissioners. And then I'm sure we'll chat about this later. But I took the liberty to rewrite my job description. And I'm now the Senior Executive Administrator to our CEO and our board.
Nicky Christmas 03:06
We absolutely will come back to that because that's a topic that's very close to my heart. So yes, I'm going to make a note of that and ensure that we do so it sounds like an untraditional route through to where you are now. And I really want to dive into that. But before we do, can you let us know a little bit about the main aspects of the role that you are in at the moment and where you're based, and yet some of the things that you do on a day to day basis?
Sure, I am based out of Greenville, South Carolina. So I'm in the United States, which you can probably tell with my southern accent. So
Nicky Christmas 03:41
the next day.
Thank you, I think yours is much prettier, but the main aspects of my job have now become more executive and strategic support to our CEO. Another interesting fact is when I came on board here, we had a new CEO start that January, this was in 2016. I came in May. So we were able to grow together. And he retired in just not too long ago. And so our new CEO, who is a wonderful gentleman, he's been here well over 20 years. And I was working with him in some capacity prior to him moving into the CEO role. So again, I have the opportunity to work with my CEO directly. And he and I really have a different working dynamic. And he has me involved in a lot of high level strategic projects. So my job function originally was very tactical. And when I rewrote my job description, it was after having thought more about what is required at this job and to level it up. And so now it is more strategic minded and keeping in mind the CEO the responsibilities there What the organisation needs and how I can support others. And of course, we have other C suite officers as well. And I'm happy to support anyone that I can. So I have a very difficult time saying no, but you learn to do that when you need to. Absolutely.
Nicky Christmas 05:15
Just to go back to the difference with the two CEOs that when the new CEO CEO came on board was, were they already based in the organisation? Or were they completely new to the organisation,
they actually, so he actually came to the organisation through the same recruiting firm that I did. But he had extensive experience, obviously, coming in as the CEO of running a large corporation such as this. And so he and I meshed very well, I think he gave me one of the greatest compliments I've ever received, we're in the middle of my six month review, and he pushed the paperwork back and he said, Rebecca, all I want to tell you is that you have a sense of calm about you that I need. And so from that day on, I thought, Okay, I just I need to come into work. And my job is to stay calm for others. And so really, that's the mantra that I live by. And so I think I'm pretty good just because of some other experiences I've had in life of being calm during a crisis situation. But at work, I really do try to live by that of staying calm and trying to work with everybody, especially if something if the office is on fire, and we're having a fire drill, then you know, somebody has to stay calm, and most of us always do
Nicky Christmas 06:27
and how do you go about doing that? Because I hear it's something I think that's really important for assistants real helpful skill to have, sort of personal skill to have. Because if you're the assistant who remains calm, like you said, when everything else is hectic and chaotic around you, but you're able to breathe through it. So I wonder how you go about doing that, because it's a real tangible skill that assistants could pick up on. So you heard
me say her 20 years in banking, so updated myself. So first, I would probably tell you, it's age and experience. And I think that's very important. I also think you just have to be very intentional about that. And so when you realise that you have a challenge or an opportunity that you need to address, you just need to think about it, break it down into bits and pieces, parts, figure out what you need to delegate, and you can't let that beat you. That's your project, it's your challenge. And Britt is it's going to get done. And that that also has been a mantra of mine, it's going to get done. I think I've had that one. Since college, I am a big procrastinator, I own that my work better under pressure. I know people will say that's not true. But to me, I do it will get done. And so I just I do have a way about not getting too stressed out about things because I know in the end, they're going to get done. And I have a great support system here. And we're all going to pitch in where we need to.
Nicky Christmas 07:52
It's probably how you survive 20 years working in banking as well, because it's not an easy industry. So I think that's probably invaluable advice. But for those who most sees such fast paced environments, particularly banking and the financial sector, yeah, I think if you can work on that really early on in your career, then it will serve you hugely. So I know that no day is the same. And I would imagine that's certainly the case for you. But I'd like to get a sense of what a general day looks like as much as you can, what kind of things do you find yourself doing just like
any assistant, I do have heavy calendar management, I laugh and tell people that my career looks like a Christmas tree because I colour code everything. I am working on a lot of different strategic projects at one time, or maybe working on not small things, but things like my credit card reconciliation. And I also, of course do our CEOs, credit card reconciliation, and travel expenses for our Board of Commissioners. So those things fall in, there are big things that I'm working on right now we have a board of commissioners workshop that will be coming up and that will be a full day. So I'm responsible for that agenda, finding a facilitator, working with that facilitator to work out that agenda, working with our chairman of the board, setting up the pre meetings before we get to the workshop. So doing those things. And then of course, the behind the scenes that come with that ensuring everybody has breakfast and lunch. So luckily, I have some help for things like that. I see a lot of my job too, is relationship building, because I'm a representative of the CEO. And so I like to say that we're all the face of real but I also will go and represent my CEO if he's unable to go to an event or even if he's able to go when that's the one thing I love about my CEO I love about the other people I work with if there's something I want to go do I have such autonomy and I'm empowered to go do those things, to attend meetings, to attend functions to do things that will allow me to learn and or just represent reward in a positive light. So I'm always happy to go do those things as well. And how
Nicky Christmas 10:09
have you found that impacted your career? Because it's something that I've really push hard for assistants to do. I think it's such a positive thing. But hearing you say that I wonder if you could articulate how that's helped you specifically, in terms of career development.
Sure. Growing up in the banking industry, especially when you have a customer contact position like I did for so many years, you have to learn to small talk and you have to learn to network and I'm I am naturally sociable, I'm an extrovert. I think the older become a little bit more introverted, but I was that kid in school that came home with a report card that says talks too much. But I think that if you can, at a young age, force yourself a little bit, I hate to use that word, but force yourself a little bit to get out there to go network, whether it be at a small event or a big event, make yourself do it for a few minutes. If that's all you can do, a lot of people don't have the mental capacity really, to go to an event for a long time. But go do it. Go ahead and have a question ready to go up and ask somebody or an introduction ready to go state to someone and you'll probably ease yourself into a conversation just like you and I are doing and you will find that it gets easier and easier as you do it. Another way to do that also is within your organisation, there are likely people within your organisation that you do not know. And so I would encourage people to walk through their organisation. And just don't hang out all day chatting, but introduce yourself to someone that you haven't met yet and get to know them for a few minutes, maybe invite them to lunch. So there are things that you can do like that, to help you just learn how to network. I just happen to like it, and it comes easy to me. So I enjoy it.
Nicky Christmas 11:58
It's so true. Everything that you've said there for sure. And it's something that you I often say to assistants, as well as that's part of the role exactly like you said, a huge part of your role is relationship building. And for assistance to go. And back in the day, when we were in the office all the time. I know it's not the case for everybody, but the office, talk to people, it's an incredibly important part of the role. And it sounds like that's a really crucial, crucial part of your role.
That is a very crucial part of my role. And I think that everybody thinks, Oh, you have to be nice to the CEO, you're the the assistant to the CEO needs to be nice to everyone is what everyone needs to be nice to each other is really where we land. And it is a critical part of my role to be the liaison from the CEOs office or the Board of Commissioners to everyone else. So that is a crucial part of my role. And really anyone working in administration with me. So we have another Executive Administrator and executive administrative assistant in my purview. And so that person also is crucial for him or her to be outgoing and friendly. And the ability to get along very well with the others in the organisation because we work with the leadership team. And so you want I don't know why you would want to have an adversarial relationship, but you want to get along with everybody, and you want to be helpful.
Nicky Christmas 13:25
Yeah, and you one of the main aspects of the role is being that bridge between everybody else in the organisation and the executive suite, which is a scary place to be sometimes when you're somebody else in the organisation, committee, and I really want to get into what life looks like for you outside of work. But there were a couple of points there that I really want to come back to starting off. In terms of when you were working for the bank, you mentioned there that you went in as an assistant, and you went in with the promise that you wouldn't stay in the assistant role. So I wonder how about how you went about moving outside of the assistant role and getting that promotion that took you into a different direction, because I know a lot of assistants fall into the role and it is a stepping stone to other thing, which I think is something that we shouldn't shy away from is part of the role. So I wonder how you went about doing that.
So I had a great supervisor who really looked out for me, but I made it known to her that I wanted to do other things within the company. And knowing that we were a small Private Sub bank, there would be opportunities, you just had to wait for them. Fortunately for me that wait wasn't very long because we had an opening come up in loan administration. I had no experience in line administration, but I was given the opportunity to learn and probably stayed in line administration has been so long now But several years and then ended up supervising our loan operations team but because I didn't know really much about loan operations, but I took the time to go and sit with my team for a week. You can't learn everything, but you can at least see what's going on down there. Because it's really hard to manage something when you don't understand it. So that gave me a high level understanding to go at least spend some time down there for a week, and then periodically go and spend time because that was in another location. And then I also did commercial lending. I wanted to try my hand at that. And that wasn't really for me, that was a little bit too much sales, not enough relationship building and too much negotiating. I am you telling me what you want. I'll tell you what I want. And let's just agree. And so then that's how I got into treasury management. And actually, that was a job description that we wrote, it was a job that was not, it was an empty position that really had no job description, but needed one. And so we created that, and I filled that position. I think for the last 12 years I was there. And it's still going strong today.
Nicky Christmas 16:00
It brings me really nicely on to my next point, which is around writing your job description. So it sounds like you had some experience doing that, which is fantastic. How did you go about doing it in the role that you're in now, because I know, so many assistants have job descriptions that are out of date, they're generic, they don't actually demonstrate anything that you do in the role. So it's an important topic. So I wonder how you went about changing yours.
My, the job description I had when I rewrote it, which was about a year ish ago, was the same job description that I interviewed with six or seven years, six, six years ago. So obviously, it needed some updates, right, because my job has changed a time, I still have the same CEO. But my job had changed. So I wanted to level it up. But also wanted to change the description itself to make it more strategic, less tactical, because I knew we had this executive administrative assistants position, that should be more tactical. And the job description, although is should serve as my backup in many capacities, serves a much different purpose than this position does. So I changed the title. And part of this and I don't know that this is an issue in the UK, but we have an exempt or non exempt status. And I've never been non exempt in my life. And to me, this was an exempt position. And so that was my ask to be made exempt to change the title, which really was necessary to help it become an exempt position. And then I will tell you, I did a lot of research on executive administrative assistants, I did a lot of research on chief of staff jobs, to see the similarities and to help me figure out how can I write this so that I still have a career path? And so that's how I wrote it. Would I ever have the title Chief of Staff? I have no idea. Does it matter? Not really. But I have a career path now with this new job description. The other one was just cookie cutter. It was outdated. It was stereotypical. It was horrible.
Nicky Christmas 18:16
Yeah, and so many assistants have that. So I think if anybody could take anything away from the podcast today is that have the confidence to at least have the conversation with your executive about updating and changing the job description so that it fits what you do. And like you said, how important it is to have a career development plan in place. So you can have useful objectives and goals that sit you through and challenge you. I think it's so important. By
the way, one thing that I like to live by is if you don't ask, you don't have
Nicky Christmas 18:47
a favourite of mine as well. If you don't ask you don't get. So I'd like to get a sense of what life is like for you outside of the role. And we always start in the best place to start, which is in the morning. So can you tell us a little bit about how you get yourself ready to face your day.
So I am not a great morning person. So my morning is pretty silent. I have a cute little Havanese puppy dog. And so I usually after I'm up for a little bit he gets up and so I usually pet him and play with him for a little bit. And then I'm out the door but I do have a little commute to work. So I use that commute time to either listen to the news or I've been listening to your podcasts which has been lovely or listen to other podcasts or music. I love comedy. So I might listen to some kind of just depends on the mood I'm in. I'm ready for comedy that early in the morning. It just depends. So I'm very quiet person in the mornings. But as soon as I walk in that door, I turn it on and I'm on through the end of the day and usually I catch a second wind around to three o'clock in the afternoon and I could probably work eight nine o'clock but we don't do that. It's great work. Life Balance here,
Nicky Christmas 20:01
let's impressive because I'm normally done by about three o'clock. And I don't want to linger on this too much. But we all have challenging aspects of the day. So I wonder what's the most challenging part for you.
interruptions are the most challenging part of my day, which is basically all day everyone is nodding away right now. In TOS where I sit, I love where I sit, I have an enormous space, and we are behind a secure door. And I sit directly across from my CEO. So he and I can yell at each other, in essence across the hall, which is great. But I'm constantly interrupted, and people can walk straight up to my desk. And even if I have my ear pod, and someone might start talking to me, and I might points my ear, but it's fine, it does take a second to recover from that interruption, and then get back to what you were doing. And then sometimes that interruption becomes you have to switch task. And so you stop what you were doing, which probably was important, but you have to do something that just didn't took priority. So you have to prioritise some of those interruptions. So yeah, that's probably the most challenging, which actually, I think is probably not a bad thing to say that's the most challenging part of my day.
Nicky Christmas 21:19
But it's true, isn't it? And again, I think it comes with experience that you learn to be able to switch focus, as you said, there and it not it almost becoming seamless that you can do that it absolutely comes with experience. Because I think that was probably the most challenging aspect for me as well, as an assistant, I just want to pause for a second and ask you what it was like over the pandemic for you, because so many assistants found that those interruptions have gone or they've come in a different way via technology. So can I just get a quick sense of what happened with your office during the pandemic? And where you are now?
Sure. That's a great question. We're back in the office. Now the entire company is although we do have some folks that will do flex schedule, when we were sent home March 17, is that 19 or 20? It's been so long now I can't remember. However, what I do recall is that was nice for maybe a couple of months. But I'm too social to be at home. And not social where I waste time. But I just need people around me. So I came back, I knew that our leadership team was in the office still. And I started coming into the office around 10 o'clock, and I leave about three now I still work my whole workday eight, five. And then eventually I just told my CEO, I said, I truly feel very disconnected from you, with you being in the office, and I'm at home. And I said, Do you care if I come back in the office full time? And he said, No. What whatever you feel comfortable doing. So I was probably I was back in 2019, wasn't it 20. So I was probably only out of the office for let's call it a month and a half. And I was back in in 2020. So I was and I have friends in the UK and our Bradley and the officials and I'm a member of that group. And so it would just it would kill me in our Slack channel to hear folks talk about how terrible the pandemic was, and they were still at home. And here I am coming into work and going out to the grocery store and maybe going to get together or whatever. Not that we were not taking precautions because we were but it was just very different. And I don't feel like I missed a beat here at work. I really don't. And I've already told everyone if we go through that again, and I am not going home, I'm going to stay here. Unless we all absolutely are assured him it's like
Nicky Christmas 23:51
you said, isn't it, it's what you need. So there were a lot of assistants now that are completely adapted to that hybrid model and actually work really efficiently at home, and maybe a more introvert, so don't need that kind of energy that you get from people. But what I love is that you asked going back to what we said previously, you asked for what you needed. And you were given that, given that opportunity to come in the office. So again, it's going back to that point you made earlier about asking for what you want, and actually how that makes you better at your job. So kudos to you for doing that.
Thank you. And I think to just I would point out to folks that you can have confidence without ego. And you you need to learn to take risk and put yourself out there because if you're in control of your career, no one else cares about it, but you there are going to be people in your company that want to help you get to where you want to be, but you're in charge of it. So you've got to take charge of it. And so ask for the things that you want the worst thing that people can tell you is now and move on and then hopefully what that person says is no but and then they help you understand, here's a different path. Here's how we can get to where you want to be. Find a mentor, or a coach. And that's something I like doing. I like talking with other folks and just helping coach them. I've done that a lot throughout my career not in a formal capacity by any means. But just by walking around and meeting people, talking to people. I did start here at our company, our first administrative roundtable for our administrative assistants, and they come from varied backgrounds have different experiences, and they work all over our different facilities. And so we come together once a quarter. And it's been great.
Nicky Christmas 25:40
That's fantastic. Have you noticed a difference in how the administrative function is operating now that you have that network in place, we I
will tell you this. No. And I say that, honestly, because we're all in different departments. So we don't necessarily work together every single day. So it's not something that I would see this fluid flow to. But what I have seen is in that group, a group of women come together and say, I've never met you before today, and start talking and have a conversation and have opportunities to train. And we've been had Barney low crime and zoom in with us one week day, and we have it on a on usually a Wednesday or Thursday, and we have lunch. And we have some type of training opportunity might be a speaker, such as that time, we'd love to have you join us some time, if you could. That would be great. We've done different trainings, like someone wanted something on Excel, we just transitioned to work day, I don't know if you're familiar with that. And so we had some additional training on that. But then we did for Thanksgiving, we had a Friendsgiving last year. So we did nothing but sit in the room and just talk and enjoy a meal. And so sometimes you just need to do that. And so it's brought us closer together as people. And it's enabled us when we are in the other's place of work, because we have different offices around our campus to now know who that person is, and be able to know Hey, how's your family doing? How are you? How's your job? And now we know what that person does.
Nicky Christmas 27:23
It's so important, like you said, it's just that human element, isn't it? Particularly for assistance when the job can be quite lonely at times just knowing that there are other people in the organisation that get what you do, and the challenges and pressures that come with that it's so important. So yes, absolutely recommend that everybody if there isn't a network in place in your organisation to Ted as an opportunity to set one up.
And we started a team's channel. And so we use that to communicate. And we will share articles, Ted Talks, different things are just Hello, have a great day. So there's just like you said, a great way to communicate and keep that human element going.
Nicky Christmas 28:01
Nice. I know if I asked you what you'd like challenges in your day or so that's turned to the more exciting and fun part. What's the thing that you enjoy
the most about your role? Definitely the people and our culture? That's a very easy question. We get asked that a lot. Our like I said earlier art, the culture here is my community bank, which I love so much. After being there. 18 years, I truly thought I would retire from there. But rewash is that community bank on steroids. Everyone here is just so kind. They're so genuine, they're authentic, they really desire to help you, you have opportunities to learn and to grow. It is okay to fail. It's just such a good support system. We do have multiple campuses. So it's difficult to get to know everybody. But when people from other campuses come in past my office, they all say hello to me, I say hello to them. It's just such a friendly organisation and we just have such good fellowship, we have a lot of fellowship opportunities, we have an all employee meeting quarterly. And then we will have an all employee urine celebration around the holiday time. So we we do a lot together as a corporate family. It was very
Nicky Christmas 29:14
nice. It makes such a difference, doesn't it when you work for organisations that care about their employees, and understand those social elements as an example, that is so important to raise morale and bring everybody together. It's you know, that you working for good organisation when they understand that the employees need that, and it's an
important part of it. Oh, yes, we then our CEO leads by example. He's very transparent. They are working on issues dealing with inflation. We just sent out an engagement survey so we understand what's on everybody's mind. And of course, the top thing is inflation and what is our company going to do about it? Are we going to be able to help our employees and so we're talking about those things in our quarterly all employee meeting, so it's a great way to Uh, to run the company.
Nicky Christmas 30:02
Yeah. And I mean, it's interesting that since the pandemic, so many issues are worldwide, because it's certainly an issue that we're facing here in Europe as well. So, again, I think, an initiative that maybe assistants can pick up with their CEOs broach that subject, because, yes, we're all absolutely struggling with that at the moment as well, I want to come on to some of the kind of nitty gritty aspects of the roles, some of the strategy aspects of it. So to start with, I wonder if there's a piece of advice that you could give to assistants that maybe are just starting in their role or a new to being an assistant? Yes, there's some advice you could offer our new cohort of assistants.
So something that we already talked about, but learn to stay calm under pressure and Neverland seas, I think that's appreciated by other people, because that's really your job. And when you're CEOs, hats on fire, you're shouldn't be about your job, be intentional with the things that you do, it's okay to have confidence without ego. And then my biggest one, and this may take you a little time. But if you're not given a seat at the table, take it. And I think that's so big for people to understand is you don't have to grab it, you can politely just make it known that you're going to sit at that table. And I think that's been the way that has allowed me to open doors for myself, by just involving myself in meetings, not in a boisterous way, not in a egotistical way, just in a I would like to attend that meeting and learn more about this subject, I would like to attend that event to represent rewards. So if you're not given a seat at the table, take your seat at the table, you have a seat at the table.
Nicky Christmas 31:41
Yeah, I completely agree with that. It's interesting, because you don't have to go into an environment like a meeting to even really have a huge amount of say, you can say that your purpose of being there is to learn. And I think for assistance, it's always that slight worry that what if I'm called on and I don't quite know what's happening in the meeting. But if your objective is there to learn, and then use that learning to better work with your executive, then it's worthwhile. So I absolutely agree with that. And as you said, there's different ways to take that chair, isn't there?
There are and a great piece of advice, if you don't know and I learned this the hard way is if you just if you don't if you're asked a question, you don't know the answer, you just simply say, I'm sorry, I don't know that I will be glad to follow up with you. Boom, you leave it there, and you follow up with that person, like you told them that you would do not try to figure your way through it. Because you will be you will be uncovered. Yeah, I'm sure we've
Nicky Christmas 32:31
all been guilty of that. And you don't know something trying to hide that fact? Yes, absolutely. And it's a complete, go, as I said, a little bit into the strategy of what you do. So let's have a look at some of the kind of tactics that you put in place for the work that you do. And I wonder how you go about being creative in your role and maybe pushing boundaries.
So I always tell people, I'm not creative at all, I probably do push boundaries. Sure, there are several people that will tell you that. So getting creative, I think that would be example is me rewriting my job description. But it's just me asking to be involved in different things. It's me taking a project that I've been given and not waiting on my CEO to tell me what to do. But me taking it up and doing work on it, getting it to a point where I can take it to him and say, I've gotten this far, I think I need a little bit of guidance from you. And then let me run with it a little bit more. I think sometimes people might get work from folks, and then they're waiting to be told what to do with it. And so I think you have to get creative and say, Okay, this is my job. So it's my responsibility to figure out what to do with it. I was given we have we're refurbishing some old buildings on our property. renewable water resources. So we renew things. And I was given the task of furnishing this building. I've never done that my life I had to figure out okay, what company do I call? What type of furnishings do we need? And there's going to be a dedicated board room are we actually going to be able to finish the building this year or so now I'm having to work on the construction side to something else I've never done in concert with the people working on the construction, my contact there. So getting a little creative in Okay, what do I do next and not relying on my CEO to give me all the answers because he's busy. That's why he gave me the project. It's mine to do. So I think when you ask about creativity, I think it's really figuring out one how to do it and then to are there resources that you need to do that job? Is it some type of is it something technical that you need? Do you need outlook do you need Canva? Do you need a Trello? Do you need a project management tool? Do you need a Contact, you need a resource, etc. So think it's figuring out the how and then the resource to get it done.
Nicky Christmas 35:07
It is pulling on the skills that you already have, isn't it? Like you said, you might not know necessarily how to, in your example, furnish a boardroom. It's not something you've done before or work on construction. But the fundamental skills that you have in place are the things that you pull on to get, as you said, right at the beginning of the podcast to get stuff done. Yeah, I think you should never be afraid of taking on new things, because those fundamental skills are there.
Yes, absolutely. And you may, I don't want to say make mistakes, but you're gonna make a few mistakes. And then you figure it out. The first quote, I got him for that room was a lot of money. And I asked my CEO, I said, Was this what you were thinking? And he said, No, I think a little bit more around this area. And so I went back to the folks and when we got to where we needed to be. Now we're back to that negotiation of which is something I got out of banking for but really didn't have to negotiate. I just told him where we needed to be. And they got us there. Yeah, it's, you're gonna make a few mistakes. But that's part of the learning process. And you don't learn if you don't make mistakes.
Nicky Christmas 36:07
Yeah. And you don't know what you don't know. So I'd like to look at because you came into the role in kind of a different career path than a lot of assistants. Do. I wonder if you've ever come up against some of the stereotypical aspects that sometimes are all trying so hard to move away from but some of the stereotypical acts typical aspects of the assistant role? And if you have come up against those boundaries, how you've challenged
that, yes. And I think that we all have, and I can even remember being in banking, there are stereotypes in banking. When that you when you see a female banker, and this to no offence to any female in the banking industry, it's automatically assumed that you're a teller. And I can remember being somewhere and meeting someone and he said, Oh, I believe I know you. I think I've seen you in the main office before. And I said, No, sir, you have not seen me there unless you've been up on the second floor. And I know that was a little forward. But his stereotype didn't please me too much. So I wanted to let him know that it's not everyone is where he thinks they are, in my role, you get that. But I think that I probably put myself out there in such a way that I might get it a little bit less than some people do to my face. Maybe? I don't know if that's a great answer. But I just think that the way that I am perceived, is maybe a little different sometimes just because of all the things I'm involved in and all the things I'll will get involved in
Nicky Christmas 37:42
it. I think it goes to the point that your example was very good. It's what you allow, isn't it? What you put out there is, and again, I'm generalising because it's obviously not the case for everybody. But that you have a certain persona and a certain way about you that maybe some people would wouldn't then put a stereotype on you or treat you in, in a maybe a derogatory way. But again, I think that comes with a lot of wisdom and experience for me, I certainly, that's taken time to develop. When I started my career as a young assistant, it wasn't something that I was able to do. But again, with time, I was able to push back on that a little bit. So I think once you get that confidence, then you're less likely to put up with any stereotyping or generalising.
And I think you have to know your audience too. I can remember one time I went on a call when I was in banking, and I was I never wear dresses, I tell people without wearing a dress, my suits are at the cleaner. So I've had a dress on. And of course it was at an appropriate length. And we're in the south we call it the good old boy network. And good to know, good to know, a gentleman said to me, and he was a friend, he said, Baby, do you wear dresses for all your customers. And I said just for you and I kept walking to his office. So you just sometimes you have to give it back to people as good as they give it to you. My parents will tell you that I've been this bold, since I came out of the womb. I love that I absolutely
Nicky Christmas 39:07
love that don't ever change. So what's the one thing that you're grateful for that the assistant career has given you?
I have to look at all that here at reiwa. And so I think it is all of the people I've met here being so empowered here and having autonomy but knowing that I have people that will help and support me and be my teammate and be friends and family. I'm very grateful for all the opportunities that I have here known and unknown because they're unknown opportunities as well. I've only been here six years and even though we all know now that I've been in my career for going over 26 years, I got a lot more in me and so I don't know where this job will take me but I feel like I'm on my second career trajectory, if you will. A lot of people, my age are probably starting to think about oh, 10 or 15 ish years, I'm gonna retire. And I don't feel that way I'm looking to expand and figure out how I can make this job bigger and better, and how can I do a better job? So I'm just grateful for the opportunities and the people I work with. I know that's a very bland answer. But it's so honest,
Nicky Christmas 40:26
no. And I think that's so fantastic to hear. Because like you said, when you've been in a been working for a long time, then it can be easy to become set in your ways to just wait it out until you get to retirement, it is wonderful to hear that you're still wanting to learn and grow and hit new objectives and find new things to do. And I think that's a real really inspiring, actually, that those opportunities are out there.
Thank you. Yes. And they are you just have to be willing and outspoken a
Nicky Christmas 40:55
little bit. Yeah. And don't write yourself off. Because that's sometimes what you hear, particularly around age, there's younger people that could do that. So never write yourself off. Because your experience is so valuable. Yes, exactly. Exactly. So I we're coming up to the end of our time, but there's a few questions that I always like to ask before we wrap things up. And it's around sharing the love in the assistant industry. So why don't we start Can you recommend any events or books or publications or websites that you found useful in your career,
and I think I heard someone else mentioned this on one of your podcasts. I am a big fan of LinkedIn and LinkedIn learning and the LinkedIn groups. The their chief of staff group is a great group. I love TED Talks. Harvard Business Review, has great articles. Jeremy burrow, has a great book, the leader assistant, he also has a podcast like you do. And of course, I mentioned Bonney Lake came in earlier, but I know Lauren Bradley with the officials. And she's got a great a great community there and a lot of support in that community. And I've been very grateful for that as well. And your community, you put out some wonderful things on LinkedIn and some downloadables that are absolutely fantastic for people to use. And I would encourage people to follow you if they are not already doing it and to download your things. For me, a lot of the things that I do are very specific to to what I'm doing at the moment. And so the research I do I'm I love to I'm an English and Political Science major. So I love to research and read. So a lot of things I do are specific to a project. So am I right now, um, I am researching Policy Governance, it's a way to run your board. And that, so that's very specific to me. But I'm also fortunate in that my company invest in training for us. And so I've been through a women and leadership cert certified course, a leadership cohort that eventually went into a leadership collaborative. And so that collaborative included not just EAS that included those and entrepreneurs and that was really a wonderful experience. So if you are able to ask for that money in your budget, your training budget.
Nicky Christmas 43:12
Yeah, it's looking for things outside of the assistant industry as well, that's specific to your industry that you're in. That's really valuable. Yes, yeah. And in terms of technology, or apps, or anything like that, how does that help you with your role, and any, again, any that you can recommend,
we're on the outlook suite. And I've always used that, and I love it, and I live and die by my calendar. And my task lists both are colour coded and categorised, and everything has a due date on it. I am still old school and use paper for my to do list. It's just easier for me. But I'll tell you that outlook is the main thing I could not do without would be lost without it. Especially without my calendar.
Nicky Christmas 43:55
I'd love to see your calendar. But it's as you said, if it's all colour coded, you know that it's very shiny
screenshot later, it's pink and green and blue. It's got a multitude of colours on it. Red
Nicky Christmas 44:08
is fantastic. That's everything that we've kind of covered. It's been a whirlwind of your career, but I know there's you've offered a huge amount of value to our listeners today. So
thanks very much. I appreciate I really enjoyed talking with
Nicky Christmas 44:19
thank you so much for listening to the EA campus podcast. We would love for you to take a minute to subscribe to the EA campus podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever you find your podcasts. If you could give us a review, we would so appreciate that too. If you want to check out the show notes. You can do that by going over to the AAA campus.com forward slash podcast and take a look at everything we discussed. You can also find all the links the resources, articles and tech that we mentioned during the show. If you want to join the conversation inside the EA campus community, you will also find all of the information on the EA Campus website. The community continues to grow and we Have an amazing group of assistants sharing their careers we have ongoing events and training from members and we would love to see ambitious and career driven assistants join us thanks for your time and I hope you tune in again to the next episode of the EA campus podcast