Episode Twelve: Puichi Hau, EA at Our Future Health

Episode Twelve: Puichi Hau, EA at Our Future Health

Episode description

Our next episode is with Puichi Hau, EA at Our Future Health. Puichi is a highly competent, resourceful and discrete solution provider often relied on to fix things. She is always the ‘go-to’ person for colleagues, friends, and family. Puichi takes us through her career, which has covered many industries and sectors. She shares her thoughts on falling out of love with the role, finding her ideal job, mentoring and managing other Assistants and career paths for the industry.

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 EA campus podcast. Join me Mickey Christmas, the founder of practically perfect PA, and the EAA 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. 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 EAA campus podcast. Our next episode is with Pucci how EAA at our future health. Pucci is a highly competent, resourceful and discreet solution provider often relied on to fix things. She's always the go to person for colleagues, friends and family. Pucci takes us through her career, which has covered many industries and sectors. She shares her thoughts on falling out of love with the role finding her ideal job mentoring and managing other assistants and different career paths for the assistant industry. Hi, everyone, and welcome to the next episode of the AI campus Podcast. Today we have the wonderful Pucci Howe with us who is going to tell us all about her career. And of course, show us some tips and tricks that she's learned along the way of being an EA. Hi, Pucci. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Puichi Hau 02:03
I'm making up into the head Frankie's having me

Nicky Christmas 02:06
know it's an absolute joy having you with us. And I know that you've got a bit of a sore throat. So as I said to you is going to add some texture to the podcast. So we're going to as I said, we really want to dive into your career on the a campus podcast. So why don't we start right at the very beginning? Why don't you let us know about your career to date.

So I've been in this industry for 12 years now come up to 13. And it all started from being the Reserve Bank and HSBC, laughed about nothing. Customer service, I love people, I came back from maternity leave, and just due to dynamic changes within the team, and the management, and I didn't feel like that was my place anymore. Now I love HSBC as an organisation. So I wanted to stay there. So how to peak on the internet. And I came across this role for Pac team. Now, I was never really good at planning organisation. But when since becoming a mother, I've become an expert. And I found a role I was like I could, I could absolutely do that. So I applied without any pa experience whatsoever. And I've got the job. And that was the start of my PA career back in 2010. And as I've been able to head off into the lovely shipbuilding and care, I was completely overwhelmed. And I guess that was when I felt the need to please all the time. And that was my first kind of perception of the PA, I just said to do whatever people told you to do. I really enjoyed it because he was experienced and he was learning and then gradually I've moved through the organisation moved up the ranks. And then money being the main driver and moved from retail banking into investment banking, side of the business with a promotion, VA has copied fixed income from Exchange, both global markets out of business and supporting the claim will enjoy that it was intense. It was very stressful. But that's probably the most about the role. And that actually, in order for you to as an AI you to learn have to learn how to say no and manage expectations. And then from there from banking, I decided I wanted to take time out to spend with my mother who had been diagnosed with cancer and a little boy who I never really got a chance to really raise. So fortunately now's my time I'm gonna take some time out. So I left bank in 2017 took six months off and then on mixed with the Deloitte Consulting I always had I would never have accused corporate I did three months as EAC three partners, they're in public sector consulting, it was is intense and rewarding because I've worked with three very different people. And there, I learned that actually, though my skills could evolve into just one level, rather than being a one dimensional kind of VA activists I wish I could do well can just learn how to adapt to their personalities, and they'll have my own style. Anyway, I was fit months. In so I took on a job as a managing director of a family construction business for a year again, loved the role, he was a very challenging character to work on. And I guess that's when I decided I didn't want to, but for someone who, who run their own business, because, as always, like emotional tie, where it's their business, so they everything has to be perfect. See as being good or perfect, I don't really work into them, because they don't, they will always criticise you. And like that, well, I stopped beauty checks it and I actually thought, I'm not being being an EI, and she's gonna do something wrong anymore. And then the mother said to me, you know, how can you allow one person to take away that drive and passion you have for a volume? Absolutely not. Because there's never been any a spot just driven around, you've got to love it and breathe it and enjoy it because you have to have really thick skin a lot of the times and if we don't enjoy, then he is really no other industry is waiting for you to profit unless TMG farming business, they went into administration, a lot of laughter. And I found this fall. And this problem is public opinion, nearly three years, and this is probably where I found my home, really found my for my fee. And my love of the VA again, I'm very lucky to be able to run a team here of PAs and EAS. So I get to what I love more than anything, which is mentoring, learning and development. So I guess in the 12 years that I've been in EA, it has been a bit of a journey, we've been roller coaster, I have loved every minute of it. And it's some it's an industry I'll highly recommend people to to get into. But do your research is not easy and toxic few people under suddenly get yourself in trouble.

Nicky Christmas 07:32
I think when you speak to a lot of assistants who've been doing the job for a while, over a decade, they will have had roller coasters, like you have particularly like you said, when you work with an executive you have to get on. And it's really hard to enjoy the role when you're struggling with that relationship with your executive. So we're definitely going to come back to that because you made some really good points there. And I'd like to touch on that again. Because I know there'll be assistants listening, who fall out of love with the role because of the person that they're working with. So we'll come back to that. But I'd like to find out a little bit find out a little bit more about the role that you're in at the moment with our future health UK, what are the main aspects of that role, because from what you have said to me, before we hit record, it's quite a technical world that you're now living in. So tell us what the aspects of the role are, where you are currently.

When I first applied for the role, I was really worried because I've never been in the health care. We didn't really have a company, it was a complete startup. It's a mixture of healthcare research and development. It's a mixture of using technologies harness data, and it has a very technical wealth I feel to this day and I still struggle, sometimes because of the scientific side of things. But I think as an EA, I have always believed this and I believe it even more now that I'm actually in that position is what it can call support industry. Ai skills and pmem skills are the most skills ever. And I think you have to be open minded when you go into any industry. So walking into our future health. It was really about being open minded about like, I want to learn that and I want to learn that I'm going to ask the questions. And when you will, can you know when you start anywhere, no questions, stupid questions, even if they sound a bit silly in your head, saying ask him because I guarantee you they'll be other people in that room. Who wants to know the answer but a face asked if it is a silly question. Who cares? You've asked and you found out what you want to know. You've always found new knowledge new learning, it's a game for you. I think with any job I go into the main asset and I look for is the culture of the company and what is What am I looking for from a benefit point of view, it might not even be management. But sometimes you get to the point where it's not wanting to win anymore while you can come around. It's more about job satisfaction, job security, what are the developments there? Where can I go? I don't want to be in a anymore for example, what is one development path? And how much how much can I get involved in involvements? How much say, do I do this? And our future house is one of those places where I learned something new. And this is gonna sound really cliche, but I do learn something new every day. There is one thing there's one word I haven't charted, and every time this word is said, I kind of know what it means. I kind of don't know what it means is it work with chemo, chemo comatose. And anytime that it comes up in a meeting, and my job because I don't know the meaning, and didn't have a switch, I have not rich, I'm actually rich now, because it's gonna set a low meeting. No, but seriously, jokes aside, I think it's about the work environment. That's really important with any company code to and working with people that just want to compete and accomplish a mission that has never been done before in the UK, is incredibly inspiring, and incredibly important to me. And that, for me shot the film is a very big aspect of a role. I think it's

Nicky Christmas 11:27
worth noting as well, for our listeners that you joined our future health in March 2020. So for those with a short term memory, which I don't think anybody has when it comes to this, but that was at the start of the pandemic that you made that move into the industry. So just what was that like that must have just been a client, it was very surreal.

I'm not gonna lie, because I started literally the day before the national lockdown. So I started on the 16th of March 2020, in a brand new startup, and it was only me and the interim CEO. That was due to start in April, who is our CEO now, I should say somebody who's gotten into it is our CEO. He was on the six months notice when his previous employers, so I technically started a month before him on board him. And then I had an interim CFO who was a conduct from from Innovate UK, and categories that you carry on but getting the job be really excited and then locked down happened and went to the office one day, picked up my laptop and did everything from the recruitment side of is working with the IT team. So I was literally the operations person. And I'm super grateful because I learned so much. I learned just what I was capable of. And I was tested, I was complete, tested. And I often have to go online and google legal stuff about HR, legal stuff about procurement just so I knew what I was talking about. I think my scariest thing was thinking, how am I going to build my relationship with my CEO? Virtually, that's impossible. In hindsight, I think you might find us a favour because he had to trust me. He had to trust me, because he hired me, they interviewed me, he hired me, I've started I picked up the brief understand what he needed. And I delivered, it was hard, but it's deliberate. But he had no choice but to trust him because he had no one else, his company had to be create that notice. That's how the company has to evolve some way and someone had to do something had to be on their hands on tech to do that. So I think it did us a favour actually means actual, and then it allowed us time to to get to know one another, get to know the rest of the exec team as they came in because he was part of the onboarding process for all of the exec team, but it was a little bit of Headstart and advantage in getting to know them. And it's always an advantage being the first one in an organisation, that you should become a person that everyone always knows. You become, by default, that subject matter expert, even though you're not an expert, people still come to you. And then it's one of those things where actually I don't know the answer to that, but actually what great learning development for me, I'm gonna go find out it was scary, but I'm actually quite, I'm not saying that when I'm in a lockdown or anything like that. And we've got quite happy with its hybrid working environment we have now but I will I'm actually super super, quite thankful for that opportunity and having that environmental working at a time. Jersey has added that layer of trust and respect. And the other person that worked with integrity, and he knew that straight away, we're not really open for another those types of trusts. You know, I am certainly his right hand person.

Nicky Christmas 14:58
So you would agree that Think, particularly for assistance. When you look at those job roles that are for startups, for new companies, there is an aspect to it, where it can be quite scary. Going into a organisation that's so new is taking that leap of faith in a lot of ways. But if it works, and the organisation is successful, the new being one of the first exactly as you said, what you've been one of the first members of staff that to have made that leap affords us so much silence, not accountability, but people respect and trust because people have seen you've been that face from when they first started. And you've been the one with all of the answers. So for an assistant to immediately have that level of respect is going to advance your career so

quickly. Absolutely. Is that credibility. So okay, she's taking this on, she's taking that on, she's taking that on. And then you bring in a team just I think it was something that alone I did. As she's incredible for me, I think I'll cry, I was really worried she's an asset to the organisation and bringing her in able to have a team and, you know, my CEO decided to employ someone better to lead that team and you, you can have a 10 unit help you just come to me and I will try and create something that works for you and your team. And so our team, I refuse to let anyone on our Team Admin, because we have way more than that. So we are the Business Support Team here. And we're all very well respected. Because everyone understands that you we are the cogs of the organisation. And a lot of appreciation, and thanks for the kind of massive commissions, that is something I really value from a company when they can recognise the back office support, and things like that, because it's not just about deliberate actions about the people are unable to deal with this to happen. And we get a lot of appreciation for that. But I do think that because we do stand up for ourselves and speak on lines a lot, definitely want to dig into that, because I think that's something a lot of assistants struggle with. So

Nicky Christmas 17:00
we'll come back to that too. And making a note as I go, as we go along, just to get a sense of kind of what you do on a day to day. So can you talk us through I know this is tough for assistants, what an average day looks like for you? What are the kind of touch points and things and tasks that you do on an average day? Yeah,

you're absolutely correct. I think that is one of the toughest question for any kind of PA and VA to answer because there is no average I do, every show would be getting pick up where I left off the night before and crack on and get everything off my list. And I'm sure one call. But unfortunately, that's not how I'm quite lucky in that. People respect those times and respect the way that our work. And we're very much in tune with the way people work. Because we do a lot of employee exercise and stuff like that to get some analysis. And people all know that I am not a morning person. So why don't talk to me in the morning, because I don't want you to me knowing me being aware of as I am. And when I'm most productive. That's when I kind of scheduled things to do. It's in my calendar. And inbox without any kind of this is just one thing I do everyday routine need to check my CEOs inbox almost before him and check mine. Because he's a night owl. He likes to work at night. So there's a lot of times and he's very good, it does copy me on a lot of stuff. But there are times when he's responded at a meeting. And it's he hasn't completely and so I think routinely, I do check his inbox first, especially his sent emails, so that I can pick up a new thinking that I need to kind of take charge of, and then I'll check my own. For example, I plan to come in this morning and be all nicely prepared and set up and nicely presented and everything. And I get texts from yc. And it's up to you. chances are someone to step in for me for a panel session I have this afternoon conference, I'm sitting in my car to drive to the station when I think that's not how I want to start my day. But it's not. What needs to be done has to be done. I'm a solution provider. That's my I luckily can still pick up the Wi Fi for my car, no type noise and in my apologies to the organiser of the conference, but yet offering the solution aka Target's CEO. So don't worry, I'll keep you updated. The only thing you can do, and this is why I think a lot of especially new saucify Some pas they forget about the communication part when they get hit with emergencies like this because a lot of it has to do with them but in their heads. It's not knowing how to prioritise what you need to do Tommy, you've got a problem. I'm now going to find that middle person and it's letting your crisis know because the sooner I let them know as soon as they can do what they need to find some system Peyton, I will do my part. And then I'll let you know the outcome, they can let me know if they've got something new. It's just quick communication. So yeah, and average Joe's never an average type. But I do have two things, that I have routine things that I do. And I'm quite strict with it, and I think is having that barrier. It's having that, that level of. And people respect that, because I do happen to 10 o'clock, but I don't have any meetings, I'm on my emails, I want to start, unless there's an emergency. And if it's emergency, pick up the phone, call me,

Nicky Christmas 20:33
don't send me a team. So so many now, you'd have one on pick up the phone and call me. Because I probably couldn't respond to you. If you email me, that is something that people understand that they get sued by me. Obviously, we just started a new organisation, and we responsibly because our work. So it's about building that relationship and building that trust and respect for one another. I can imagine that this takes time. And it takes practice, you've been in AAA for a long time. So you probably worked on this. But one of the things you said about your team, as well as that you're very good at self advocacy, you're able to say no, you've got boundaries in place, and that's across the team. So they're well respected. So I wonder how you teach that to the team that you have, but also how you've learned that yourself. Because I always say to assistants, if you can get this early in your career, then it's going to have a huge amount of help and actually stop mistakes that probably many of us have had. Because we've not been confident in saying no to people or just having those boundaries in place. So how have you gone about doing that, and also teaching it to younger assistants.

To me as a colleague, as a line manager, so about empowerment, I have to have their backs. So if they, you know what I normally say to them. So what I want you to do is I'm not just saying now I can't do this is always saying no, I cannot do this right now. When did you say as an urgency and deadline and importance? And what I always say to girls is find that out? If you haven't got capacity to happen, but be reasonable. And what is it come to you for a reason. Because you might be you could you might be meeting in five minutes or so take them half an hour because you have connections with the person they want to meet CA But it's about knowing that situation and then sign actually don't have capacity by now. But and if it's just a case of wanting to have this meeting set up with this person by the end of this week, then you can say I can't do anything about it until tomorrow afternoon. How about I'll give you an API, you can contact them that really loves a really approachable once I've got time to pick up as part of the solution. You know, when you're saying no. Because if you just say no and you are unhelpful. You're very unhelpful. So some it gets tedious because the same people ask the same thing, Oh, can you do this do this? Or can you set that up? And especially to do that this is why you need to not? Because you have every right to turn around, say I can't do this right now. Or question then what are they asking you to do? It actually doesn't really involve you. Your research was not in that meeting. question then. Because you're just as busy as they are, if not more, you don't know their work. They don't know your workload. So let's not make the assumption. Let's talk about this. When you push back with the solution, push back with reason is anytime soon commitments, I owe one of my pas to being unhelpful, I will always have their back. Well, no right or wrong. And at that time, they are my teammate and white girls. And I think having empowerment from your managing your team is incredibly important for anyone self esteem confidence, because I'm only the way I'm only community though I like to complain because I have a vacuum with my co were incredibly close. And trust me completely an entrepreneur to make smart decisions. And if it's the wrong decision, then we will deal with a solution until the together as a team. I think as they come through the organisation, they've grown incompetence beside people that ask them to do the most simplest of tasks. I also always remind them that actually, if they're coming to me for help, it means more than anything. So treat it as a positive as far as you'd be realistic with your time. But chances are positive because if someone's coming to you and asking you a question, and they really value your input, which means they really respect who you are as a person, how you work and the value that you can add in a situation.

Nicky Christmas 24:46
That's so very true. And is that isn't it because it can be difficult when you've got a lot on and people are coming up to you to ask you for things. There's obviously a natural tendency to get a bit annoyed about it, particularly if it's a task but they probably or maybe should be doing themselves or as you said, it doesn't involve you. But changing your mindset and thinking about it positively, is going to then give you more confidence out of what could be a difficult situation. So that's such good advice. I think a lot of assistants would absolutely take that on board, because that does, it just shifts the mindset a little bit out of somewhere, it's a bit annoying into something actually, I'm really valued here. And I'm, as you said, an absolute cog in the machine here that's helping move everything forward. So I think that that's really valuable advice, talking about the aspects of your day, it does sound like a really busy role as a particular things in the role that you do at the moment or in your in the assistant role in general that you find challenging, because another really good question in previous organisations, because I genuinely haven't experienced many challenges here, because people that I work with, I think it's all down to people, again,

and how much trust you have with one another challenges I've had in the past, when I've worked in corporate organisations is I've worked in teams of EAs where the key and it's just, it's part and parcel of an industry, I'm a very picky person. So I like I like people liking to know people, and I'm quite nosy person, which I think is an advantage to my children. Because I think being nosy or things that I never find out. But I think some of the challenges are always going to be people putting you down and also comparing yourself to another person the challenge because imposter syndrome, because you could be doing something really well and be completely thankful and everything. The moment you see someone else doing something else, and you think you start to doubt yourself. So it's a personal challenge, rather than a situation challenge like that. And you begin to really tap into what am I, I think you start to doubt what you're adding to the organisation, you're adding to the chain. What am I doing here, and in the previous moments, I definitely felt that where I'm not mentioned in here, no one even listens to me, everyone notices to one another. And so basically, what they're doing, they begin to feel very isolated, discloses back to what you said about mindset before, then it's like changing your mindset. And actually, you didn't get to your position by fluke, you got here because you'd be recognised for one one important fact that you've added. And you need to believe that because if you don't believe that, then yes, you are going to become less productive, you are going to not accomplish what you need to accomplish, you are going to start having performance management meetings and stuff like that. That's the worst case scenario. But I think if a person can talk to him on his face, because in terms of challenges is overcoming that barrier yourself, and talking to people who might have been through it before. And allowing yourself to be challenged, so that she might succeed in everything, because sometimes a challenge can be turned to positive and challenges growth, challenges learning and development. So when you have that impostor syndrome, just from Rochester, I think get hit by fluke, take your time. It's not a sprint, it's a marathon, the sheer amount of fun, your journey. And I think it's important to remember that actually, I can call right that person to be able to see this company, just this one, you're not just as this right now, you are just as important as that person. If anything, you do the same job,

Nicky Christmas 28:43
particularly when you work for an organisation like some of the organisations that you work for HSBC, or Deloitte or those huge corporations. There's so many assistants working in those big organisations, and I certainly did it as well. It's hard sometimes to work out where you're adding the value, or what you're where you're making a difference in the role, it can be really hard to compare yourself to other assistants, those huge organisations that are maybe working, like you said, either for more senior executives or heads of a more exciting teams, that kind of things. So you really have to carve out where you add value in your very specific roles so that you can feel really pleased about what you're doing and that your career is moving forward. It can be it can be difficult sometimes when you're working for such large organisations to see where your work is making a difference. So you have to carve that out for yourself. So what I've done in the past when I feel really challenged by a situation, or point where I'm starting to lose interest in what I was doing, because

for whatever reason, I've always gone back to my people that we've supported or support and ask them for feedback because for me is actually what are they seeing the items Why do they trust me to do you stop pushing. And actually having those kind of feedback is valuable because they are the people supporting. So if anything, they're the one telling the truth was saying to him during that time is messed up, they want to get on the right flight, they want to you know, they want to get their money back. So they want you at the up the productive. So when you feel challenged by yourself or whatever is happening, just go back to the source, I think is the most important thing, and really a lot of fun to help with cycling and a lot of itself that you just sometimes just need to switch into a positive one, Frank, I'm gonna be like learning how to be happy all the time. But it's about allowing yourself to turn things around from it for me really negative situations really positive light one. And then anyone can do that in any situation. So you can absolutely make a positive out of it. And I believe that for almost every situation you come across. So

Nicky Christmas 30:58
let's do that right now. Because we've talked about some of the challenges in the roles. So let's talk about some of the things that you enjoy about the role that you're in at the moment and your assistant career. Oh, God,

I love being there. No boss, no, not. So what I enjoy most about Monroe, I guess, is diversity of it. And I'm quite fortunate enough to be able to do many different things. I can get involved with whatever I want to get into, I have complete autonomy in this organisation where I want to know about what's happening in communications, communications for me meeting and find out what's happening. But I want to know what's happening in the study operation site, and then this is about what's going on. There is no set rule in our organisation with how much you can learn how much you work to that. And I think that's what I enjoy most about it my role right now. But I do believe that any ei can do that. I don't think that's just with me in my company right now, I think any EA can do that. But it's about speaking up. And if you don't ask, you're not gonna know, I don't I genuinely believe that. If I had asked any of my previous managers or communities and seen and learned what, what they're doing, really in detail to allow me to do my job properly. None of them would have said, No, I just never asked, because I'm always a little bit scared of how much value I can add. You don't have to be there to add value because you're factoring later. It comes later when I go back into my desk, I can even pop up and I'd be like, Oh, I know the answer to that I was in the meeting earlier. I can I can step in and answer that on top of my car right now. Because I've heard firsthand what's going to happen, what decision was made, rather than it being sorted down to me. So it's not that obviously permission sometime is about the time I want to learn the business. I want to be a great EA for you and this organisation, I'm going to come and sit in the meeting.

Nicky Christmas 33:02
You're so right. And I love that because i Something I advocate for, have done for a really long time about assistants sitting in meetings. And I think you articulated that so well, because a lot of assistants won't ask, because for two reasons they're worried their executive is going to say no, when often they won't. And the second reason they don't ask to go into meetings is because they're worried that in the meeting, they're going to be called on to speak. And if it's a high level meeting they've gone in, it's their first time going in there is that worry that they'll have to talk in front of other people and that for some people can be worrying. But I love what you said there about your value comes later. You can sit in that meeting and not say a word, if you don't want to, because you're at that's not why you're there. You're there. Because you're learning more about the business, you're learning how that's going to help you executive further down the line, you're getting an understanding of what the strategy and the drivers are for the organisation. So I love that you said that because that will give so many assistants the kind of freedom to go into meetings and not be there to necessarily speak in those meetings, which I think is really powerful, because your value comes later. So I love that you've said that I'm going to steal that if that's okay, because that's absolutely such a perfect way of saying it and hopefully that will give assistance that will boost in confidence to go and ask to go into those meetings

because they're really valuable. And if I say no, oh, no problem you get out of your life. Yes. Go and observe. And if you do get asked a question. It's okay to say I don't know the answer right now. Okay, back to you. It's okay to acknowledge that you don't know the answer. We are human. I know there is a good preconception that POS and bas should know everything at any given time. Whenever I'm asked. Not true, not true. We are not we're not programmed to do everything straightaway. So sometimes Absolutely. Turn around and say I'm really sorry. Can I get back to you later? You're in partnership with the people who support you're not you don't work for them. They don't pay your salary. The company does your work in partnership with them. And I think as the for any pa pa out there that size our work for them. You absolutely do. You support them and you're partnering with them. That's what you do. That's the value of your role. And it's important to remember that,

Nicky Christmas 35:26
which leads me on nicely on to my next question, because there are challenges and there are stereotypes around the assistant role that have gotten much better over the years, but are still bear. So I just wonder how you've gone about challenging some of the stereotypes and boundaries that sometimes it's set around the role. And I would imagine that again, that's probably changed in the different in various industries that you've been in first started as a PA in brand new insight team in retail bank and HSBC. I was make, I'm shy,

I've always been a confident person. But I have very much knew that I was a new person to the industry. So my confidence, my confidence didn't shine through at all. I was very shy, I was yes, yes, yes, everything. And I was drowning, I drowned. I'm not gonna pretend I didn't drown. I absolutely did drown. And then as I got more into the role, it was Mother, pas and EAS. And there was one particular person who's the boss of my boss, and that name of Debbie, I want to say his name, but Debbie, I will call her. She was amazing. I used to watch her. And I wanted to be her. But I knew that they also quite wait for me to go. So to get to that that stage, I see her challenge everything. And we see her do it with so much confidence in the way she was pushed back, she will come bouncing back up and challenge again. Because actually she understood later to be was what she was doing. She wasn't challenging something and trying to change something because it was it because that's the way she was, but it was for the goodness and benefit of the organisation. And it was making the person she partnered with and supported. See that? And then think it was their idea. So I think that's what I kind of reflected along the way of my career is that actually, if I can allow them to my challenge something is not something difficult, because because there is probably another better way of working. And actually, you've hired me to do a role that I'm an expert in, because I'm telling you how to do my role. I'm going to challenge this right now. Because it's a way that's been tried and tested. I think, again, you know, just like a broken record is I have been in the beginning. So everything that has been set up, has work exactly how I wanted to because I not allowed anyone to tell me to do otherwise, in terms of this is my area of expertise. I will take your advice on that when you haven't smoked in my shoes, and do what I do on a daily basis is non negotiable. But when the girls are my peers come to me and give me an idea. I'm like, Yes, as a challenge all the time. I always say to them when you have ideas, and you don't agree with what I'm saying, Tony, speak up. Because as a team, you need to find the common ground or wish actually, I had that conflict. I wish the confidence by heart as a person, shoulder through mother started because she's actually I learned a lot by being a guest. I learned a lot.

Nicky Christmas 38:37
That's so very true, isn't it, you end up doing things you probably shouldn't have been doing. So then you end up learning, because you shouldn't have been slightly serious that it wasn't in your wheelhouse and it probably wasn't in your job description to be doing those things, you end up doing them. Then you learn more. But that comes makes you wonder what the things that you end up not doing. Maybe could have moved you forward quicker. I agree with you as a yes. As a reformed yes person.

Might be my mother actually. She's Chinese. So she translated from the Chinese. Don't ask me to start in Chinese and I do not known. But really what it means is that actually a challenge to me might be a solution for the other person. So this is why networking is really important. Because you can only challenge something. If we truly got back in or people who know what you're challenging and can help you support you. Your mom sounds

Nicky Christmas 39:37
amazing. She sounds very wise.

She was very wise. She was a very wise man. She uses a sight loss. She's the one who are under her breath a lot of things in Chinese and I believe that mean she got unless you preach something that appraiser said to her when she was younger and a fortune teller told she's one of those women.

Nicky Christmas 39:54
You mentioned her when you were talking about it actually and that's having gone through that experience of working with An executive that you found difficult and the relationship sounded like it didn't quite work. And you were thinking about leaving the whole professional together. And she said, Don't let one person stop you from doing something you love. So I wanted to come back and touch on that. Because, as we were saying, it's so important to have the backing of the executive that you work with, particularly for an assistant because it gives you that confidence to then push forward in other areas of the role. So I wondered, in your experience, having worked with somebody difficult, that how assistants can go about either changing that situation or stepping away and going to do something else. So just wondering your experience, what you did, and then how you moved away and ended up doing something else? What was that experience like for you,

because I remember working with that person, and I remember having to drive to work in the morning thinking I don't want to be I don't want to I don't want to go to work. And that's when you know that you don't make choices anymore. When you'd like to go into work now I love work and I love going to work. So for me to have to compete if you want to save me time I'm not working for you. So at that time, for me, it wasn't just about working for that person. It was about the job I was doing. And my mom was an apprentice perspective for me she and have you allow one person to completely diminish and trample on everything that you've ever believed in and a passion unit absolutely nothing. You've always had some you found a niche. You found a career and I fell into it by accident it pretty much. But you've always believed you've always knocked it. So why did I one person do? And she said, what you need to do is she needs to separate the job and the person. Okay? Doesn't matter how much or how you're looking at the picture as well, you need to step back that this person is difficult because or something's going on that you don't know about. Also try to understand the situation. As much as we be completely new how people make that assumption, something could be happening, that could make them to be while they're giving you a hard time and don't trust you, etcetera, etcetera. Maybe they've had experience with previous pas coming for instance, at home or with a business that you don't know about. Either way, amongst a genius, my mum said you need to take yourself away from the situation and completely. Roll and support. Okay, two different things. You love being a skilled job is a transferable skill job. And I'm very proud of you. This person is a person that you support your work. She's the problem, not the job. And I was like, Oh my God. Yes. My mom said, she's still not going to do with you if you work for someone else. That was amazing. Which is divisive, which Yeah. And there was some code that was from someone who you could absolutely turn around and say your diary system. And we can work in partnership with each action shop. Yes. Okay, and is on the chopping tab. Now, it's a person that we don't ever use, remove yourself away from the person, because that is a toxic. That is the toxicity right there on the job. And when my mom said, I was like, oh my god, Bullseye hit the nail on the head. I love my job. I love what I do. I'm the one one thing that I can absolutely come to this site, I'm gonna bash I don't separate yourself, always easy to group them together. But you just take yourself out of situation. Remember why we love the job in the first place.

Nicky Christmas 43:48
There's a couple of questions I want to ask you. Before we wrap up with just going back to a couple of things you talked about. So you're a mom. And I know that you mentioned earlier that you took some time off to spend with your son. So I just wanted to talk a little bit again about being an EA and being a parent because there is always that difficult balance of giving your best self to home giving your best self to work. So I just wonder how you go about having that balance. And again, any advice for assistants who maybe have a young family that are finding it

all overwhelming at the moment? My son is now 13. And before I took the break, HSBC it was when I actually also left the organisation back in 2017. He was us five years ago, he was eight years old. And my mom did everything for us. My mom absolutely almost phased in I was what you might call a part time mom. Now I am a single mom, so I don't have to help the partner, which works for me. It works really well for me. And so I've been quite lucky that I've had the support of my family around me but it's turned out because my mom got diagnosed it was cancer. And so I thought, You know what now is one time to kind of take a break because I need to go home with my mom, and my son. At the time, situation wise, it was easy for my son to live with my mom. So when my mom got diagnosed, I made the decision to remove myself muscular he was. And it was also very important for us to see and understand that actually, this is a reason. And I think, you know, when you're trying to find that balance, again, even with your children, it's all about communication. If you talk to them, and show them that level of respect that they deserve, and you explained to them, but Mommy needs to work, because it's the only way to keep a roof over our head. Do you want the luxuries or swimming club, you want the luxuries of school club, and this is what we have to do it. But also is allowing them to, you know, what is my son is if you need me anytime this evening, or when you come home from school, let me know. And I'll come off my laptop. And I'll be with you. If I'm really busy, I'm doing something and me and him have this chain watch, I can really stop me, obviously this Are you are you going? Do what you need to do. Maybe have some time on your phone, and have a bribe, but hasn't someone your phone and I will be within half an hour when you say half an hour, be realistic. Make sure you're there in half an hour, and you're managing their expectations. Because everything you do, they will mirror everything you say they will take on board.

Nicky Christmas 46:40
Now it's so true. And it's one of those things that I'm always really grateful for having had an assistant career fat, being able to manage expectations, which I learned as an assistant. So it's exactly as you said, I spent 10 years of my career, managing executives managing multiple executives, being true to my word. And then being able to carry that through with my kids has been such a blessing. Because I've had that experience with people that needed my time and needed my support. So it's out quite naturally to be in. Though that's one thing,

I'm absolutely grateful for having had that experience of being an assistant, you're working for a common gut, you're working towards a common goal, whatever that may be. And with my is very much. I'm here because you're excited to meet me. But the reality of it is I need to prep you for adopted. I can't be there all the time. So actually, I'm empowering you right now, to let me know when you do need me. And I'm going to make sure as hard as I can to be that when you do you asked me for my time allocated see alone is prioritising you really can't spend the time is it because you've got four papers to crack or whatever to do with work explaining to your child, they will understand. If anything, they probably won't understand the silent treatment, they won't understand why it might be that he's not up to me about what's going on to me, I have to involve my child in every decision I make every decision and I have small because we were a unit, where are you now home, but when I'm at work on the unit, and the rest of the organisation, that's my family when I'm at work, Hello people, some people might have family, but these are the people that I spend all my time with. So it's not perfect, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that I've got dads for tea. But right now at his age at 17 years old, is what works for us.

Nicky Christmas 48:30
There's it's very similar being being a parent and being an assistant in the sense that their success is your success. So you're championing your children's success, your champion your executive success, and their success is your success. So there is a parallel there that I think people can learn from.

Absolutely, absolutely. I completely agree. Like you said that success is your success. There's no better way to say that. Because is, is he's not doing well, because he mirrors what I do.

Nicky Christmas 49:02
Yeah, and same for the executive they do. They are so much more successful when they are working in partnership with an executive assistant and let them shine and let them in. So it's absolutely true. There's one question that I like to finish up on and it's all about spreading the love in the assistant industry. So I just wonder if you can recommend any events or books or publications or websites that you've used in your career that

have helped you move forward? Yeah, absolutely. First and foremost, your minute shape. So your minute taking shape is my gospel. It's my Bible. I started this role and they were like pushing you're gonna be doing all the governance meeting minutes. I was like, Well, I went in with taking notes. Like I mean, it's probably my weakness. I was like What Can I Do I remember something across you on LinkedIn. And you have this minute taking chichi and that is literally on my wall. One one at work and one out I'm a law professor Steve pizzas are as good as possible to jump on is on a change management, one management thing. And it's a field robustness and resilience. And I just started on it. And it's very interesting is the fact that a lot of it is about changing your mindset. So really, really take charge of ourselves development and find out from the organisation don't have because you don't even have to do this, go to your HR team, go to someone who's been in business for a while, and ask them if there's a learning development budget. Ask them if there's anything like that, that will aid you, I can help you go on record, I can do that, because we have that here last night, but that was one of our benefits here is that a that we can our own kind of future career prospects. And just I guess the other thing you can do is just follow on LinkedIn and have a look and speak to people even if you don't know them, just randomly message them and say, Hey, I've not come across your profile. And people did it to me, and I'm like on display. And they've grown now into mentees. I've emailed somebody last year and asked him if I can go to them interested in financing unwanted and a woman the unofficial mentor, but it's about shared knowledge. And for any yeas and VAs Hello ma how to issue are. You don't know everything. That's the reality. And you don't know everything if you have other people who can be this.

Nicky Christmas 51:36
That's all we've got time for I'm you've given so much wisdom there. So I so appreciate it. There's so much that assistants are going to learn from you. So thank you so much

for having me. I really appreciate it. It is absolutely amazing what you're doing, and the platform you're giving to EAS and pas in industry to be able to do this and also what you do with practically perfect PA is top notch. And yeah, thank you. So thank you so much

Nicky Christmas 52:16
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 cannabis podcast on iTunes, 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 EAA campus.com forward slash podcast and take a look at everything that we discussed. You can also find all the links to the resources, articles and tech that we mentioned during the show. If you want to join the conversation inside the EAA campus community, you will also find all of the information on the EAA 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 career driven assistance join the EAA campus. Thanks for your time and I hope you tune in again to the next episode of the EAA campus podcast.

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