The EA Showcase was created for the purpose of highlighting EA careers and to provide further exposure in and outside our EA community. There are many outstanding EAs who don’t seek exposure, but are equally proud of what they have achieved and the path in which they took needs to be shared!!
Through your support of our EA peers we have been able to showcase some outstanding EA careers to date. I met Carly during my time with the Australian War Memorial, I was always amazed by her outstanding customer service, her courteous and professional manner and Carly’s impeccable ability to work with all walks of life. I enjoy our connection and friendship and hope you too gain a little more insight into her life.
Thank you for sharing Carly!
Name your current role?
Executive Assistant & Social Secretary to the British High Commissioner, Menna Rawlings and Deputy High Commissioner, Ingrid Southworth.
Do you remember the first day you became an EA?
I’ve had many great memories during my time as an EA that my first day just seems like a blur now.
How long have you been an EA?
I have been an EA for over 8 years now.
What would you consider to be the most difficult part of your day?
Things move fast in my role, so I would say the most challenging part of my day is predicting the stress level of my bosses. I will reschedule / reprioritise where I see stress points but there is sometimes no predicting what will change. It’s also challenging managing the expectations of the team when things get dropped / are required at the last minute.
What would you consider to be the most rewarding part of your position as an EA?
I love it when a good plan comes together, and I have delivered something seamlessly and contributed to the overall objective. But I also really like a fast paced day where plans change and priorities shift. The most rewarding part for me is walking out with a real sense of satisfaction and an element of exhaustion.
What was a role that you have owned or an experience you have had, that helped shaped your success in your current position?
Having my son, Max, in 2016 was a real turning point for me. I returned to a job I loved after 7 months of MATL, and I remember feeling more empowered to work flexibly, speak up and put myself out of my comfort zone. Since then I have accepted and participated in learning and development opportunities (public speaking, writing blogs, recording a podcast) to keep pushing me to be the best EA I can be, and to reflect on and review my own role, the impact I have on others and the contribution I make. Once you get out of your comfort zone it really opens up so many doors and opportunities.
What skill do you possess that you believe is crucial to your role?
I used to think organisation / prioritisation was the most important skill an EA could have, but ‘natural organisers’ apply for these types of jobs anyway. But I now believe that relationship management is a key skill EAs should possess to be successful in their role. You need to be trustworthy, approachable, have the ability to read others and be intuitive. Sometimes this gets you further than having the neatest desk.
What are three items you can’t work without?
- My laptop– I truly believe in transitioning to ‘smarter’ working and I am the Flexible Working Champion in the Foreign Office’s Australia network. During peak times, I leave early to see my little boy and log back in after he’s gone to bed. I get a tonne of stuff done when I’m not interrupted by phones or colleagues. It reduces the ‘guilt factor’ of being a working parent and means that I’m not falling behind. And when the team is enjoying quieter periods we take time out, and work from home to alleviate stress and rebuild resilience.
- My network– putting in regular time to build and maintain relationships is crucial. I ‘walk the floor’ for around 30 minutes each day to talk to colleagues – it helps you stay connected, makes you approachable and helps you understand the bigger picture.
- Support –I like to think I can achieve it all on my own but in reality, it takes a village! Ensuring that the team around you is supportive is a must – it means stressful periods are made easier, going the extra mile time and time again doesn’t make you feel resentful, and it gives you the space to be open and honest. My bosses, Menna and Ingrid, are supportive, encouraging and excellent role models, and I couldn’t do what I do without my own assistant, Lisa.
What do you do in your spare time?
My husband, Matt, and I have embarked on the owner-builder journey to build a little weekender just outside of Canberra (wish us luck!!!). When that’s not taking up our time, I love to get outdoors with Matt and Max or read with a glass of wine – anything from a crime novel to Saturday’s real estate lift-out. And I love catching up with my girlfriends….when we can manage a spare evening!
Any tips you’d like to share with your fellow EAs?
- Say thank you– it’s all about relationship management.
- Get out of your chair– delete the email you’re drafting, walk down the corridor and get to know your colleagues.
- Utilise the technologyyou have.
- Avoid office politics– it’s just not a good look when you’re working side-by-side with senior staff.
- Don’t forget about you– EAs cop so much from every angle so it’s important to think about your own wellbeing. If you are feeling exhausted / stressed, are in need of time off, or a situation at work is making you less effective, take a break or speak up.
Remember how valued you are and how much your contribution matters – we have the skills to support very senior people, and when they say they couldn’t do it without you, believe them.