What is your name and how long have you been an EA?
My name is Natalie Heaton and I have been a Senior Personal Assistant at KPMG for 7 years. I have worked in the legal industry across a variety of areas for 17 years across both New Zealand and Australia.
What did your first day as an PA look like?
My first day as a Senior Personal Assistant (SPA) was what could only be described as frenzied. I came across from Maddocks Lawyers (a traditional law firm) with three Senior team members. The term ‘hit the ground running’ was quite literally what we did when we joined the firm. It was quite challenging working in our new found Accounting environment.
What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of job?
I am lucky to work with very junior team members who join our firm direct from university. I really enjoy seeing them flourish and progress with their careers. I like to think I am an integral part in their training to get them off the ground. It really makes my heart happy seeing them succeed.
What do you consider to be the most difficult part of your day?
In the current work-from-home environment it would have to be the snack cupboard! However, in all seriousness, conflicting deadlines can always be challenging.
What skills do you possess to be crucial to your PA role?
I think every PA will have a top 5 list of crucial skills which would be along the lines of organisation, prioritisation, time management, effective communication, and confidence. I think my strongest skill may be remaining calm under pressure (even if I am screaming on the inside) – it comes in rather handy in high-stress situations.
What is the most exciting opportunity you have had as a PA?
The most exciting opportunity that I have had as a PA would have to be acting in the capacity of Project Manager in the Supreme Court of Northern Territory. I was challenged with organising team members from four different states as well as ensuring the safe delivery of hundreds of documents to commence proceedings. I was lucky enough to see it all pan out in person when I flew in to assist the team for 9 days. It was wonderful to see all of the team’s hard work come to fruition but also soak up the beautiful weather in the far north and escape the depths of a Melbourne winter!
What are three items you cannot work without?
- Lists – I have them for everything
- Comprehensive One Notes – any piece of training information I obtain I pop in there along with any other important information I may need during the course of my day. If it is noteworthy it is going in there!
- My phone – thanks to technology I am able to use most programs when on the go and can keep things moving for my team when I may be tied up with events and away from my desk.
Can you recommend a helpful book, program or podcast that you love?
I was recently gifted with a life journal which has helped me to complete thought-provoking questions and exercises to empower me to make changes and reach my goals. It has also been a fantastic resource to rebuild my self-confidence and remind me that I am doing well in my current role. As PAs we often miss the opportunity to remind ourselves just how great we are.
Lean on your network – whether you have been in the job for 10 minutes or ten years you can always learn from each other. I would not be where I am today without the support of my peers.
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