A PA’s Life –we are all managers now! Andrea Medd, PA to Dame Kelly Holmes

When I told Kelly that she had been booked to give a talk at the Pitman Conference for aspiring PAs and Executive Assistants she asked if I wanted to join her.  I replied ‘Er well actually they want me to come with you and join you on stage for a Q+A session!’

When you hear the word Pitman everyone knows what a well-established company they are and I looked through some of my early certificates and found out my shorthand certificate was awarded from Pitman.

Many companies will be giving their PAs and support staff a day to attend this training conference.  I think it is a great way to show their people that they are valued by investing in them and supporting them to be the best they can be.  This fits with Kelly’s philosophy as an elite athlete – never stop developing yourself or striving to achieve. Other PAs will have signed up because they are interested in upskilling themselves and developing in other areas.  Either way the time spent at this conference seems sure to bring more skills and a different view or approach to both the careers of people who attend and the businesses and teams they work with.

Looking back over my career, the role of PA has changed dramatically.  And the theme of ‘fresh thinking to empower you in a changing world’ says it all.  The traditional secretarial skills of typing, note-taking, managing diaries are still really important but we are expected to use our initiative, plan time and events, manage the budget and make all sorts of decisions.   While before we may have just responded to what our boss asked us to do,  now we need to think ahead, offer up answers, suggestions and solutions – often instantly –  and it’s become much more of a partnership which I love.  You do need to gain more knowledge of the business in order to think and behave more assertively and confidently – so more responsibility on us to develop ourselves.

Having looked at the itinerary the conference includes useful subjects such as ‘Networking isn’t just for Extroverts’, ‘What’s Your Brand?’ discussing how to make you stand out from the crowd, ‘Influencing and Assertiveness’  looking at how your behaviour can directly impact on others and influence the outcomes of situations dramatically. Then there’s ‘Speed Writing’ to help capture all the nitty gritty notes and details you need to remember or pass on to other people.

Speed writing is something I am interested in learning more about, myself.  While I did take a shorthand course, I don’t use it that much day to day now.  I do find myself throwing the odd shorthand word in when taking notes and I might write a present list in shorthand so eager little eyes don’t spot what might be on their Christmas list.  Learning the modern version of speed writing could be very useful all round!

At the end of the day Dame Kelly will talk about her story and achievements and how positivity and persistence paid off.  She will also explore the value and importance of support (I’ll be particularly keen that logistics and travel have gone to plan on this day!)

For me, joining Kelly on stage initially terrified me and to be honest it still does a bit.  I like to be behind the scenes organising things rather than being out in front of an audience.  A couple of my friends are freelance trainers and regularly visit big companies to train their staff and of course Kelly gives motivational talks regularly.  I know they are great at their jobs but to me public speaking wouldn’t be my choice of career!  But here goes on the 22nd September.

Pitman also asked if I would like to write a blog about my career and current role as Kelly’s PA.  So far I have written six blogs all of which have been featured on the Pitman Training conference website.   This is a new thing for me and I have really enjoyed doing it.  It’s great to be a bit creative and see your work published.  It has also been interesting to remind myself how much Kelly and I have actually done and achieved over the last 3.5 years.

The conference won’t be the end of blogging for me – I have enjoyed doing the blogs so much that I have also signed up to do a Pitman Blogging for Business course and Social Media for Business and I’m really looking forward to getting started on them.  The courses can be done from home so this is ideal for me when I’ll be fitting the work around my PA role for Kelly and my home life – the juggling act continues.  Once I have these qualifications   I will be more confident helping in different areas of Kelly’s life which might include promoting her 1809 cafes on social media or other events we get involved in as well as the diary management and logistics side of things.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the conference on the 22 September in the Q+A session and if anyone’s wondering what my choice would be for Dutch courage?  Mine’s a G&T thanks but perhaps I’ll leave that until after the talk!

For full information on the conference/training event see www.pitmanlondontraining.co.uk  or call them on 020 7256 6668

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