EA Showcase: Olivia Ballard

Please introduce yourself; what is your name and how long have you been an EA?

My name is Olivia (Liv) and I have been an EA for nearly four years across both the private and public sectors. I am currently the Senior EA to the Chief Information Officer within the Department of Parliamentary Services.

What did your first day as an EA look like?

It was very overwhelming! I felt like I stepped into a whole new world of the unknown. I had my doubts very early on as to whether I was cut out for the EA role, but I pushed through and gave myself a real shot at becoming successful and now nearly four years on I am loving (nearly) every second of being an EA and have definitely found my passion.

From your first day to now, how has your definition of the EA role changed?

When I first started, I thought I was “just an EA” who would answer a phone and respond to an email. Boy was I wrong! Over the years, I have learned that as an EA you are the gatekeeper, communicator, timekeeper, coordinator, HR person, social events manager, a shoulder to cry on, as well as an all-in-one support person for your executive.

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of your position as an EA?

Working in a building like Australian Parliament House is a very special opportunity and one I don’t take for granted, but for me, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing the difference I make daily within my executive’s life and knowing that I am an essential part of keeping the wheels turning and keeping everyone accountable and at times calm and collected!

What do you consider to be the most difficult part of your day?

Taking a lunch break! I often will work the entire day at my desk and don’t take a minute to breathe and actually enjoy some lunch. It’s something I am trying to get better at.

What skills do you possess that you believe are crucial to your EA role?

Personally, I think as an EA you must be resilient, organised and have great attention to detail. I also believe an EA should be able to think ahead and forward plan and predict the needs of their boss before they ask you.  Many executives will think of this skill as a superpower!

What role have you owned, or what experience have you had, that helped shape your EA career?

I remember starting my first EA role and trying to learn the ropes as I got to know the world of the public service. A few months in, I was asked to act up into a higher role and support an SES Band 2.  I was hesitant as I still hadn’t learnt everything in my substantive role, but I took on the challenge and found that being thrown into the deep end early on turned out to be the best thing for my EA career.

What is the most exciting opportunity you have had as an EA?

Most exciting opportunity for me was accepting a role within Parliament House. It’s such a unique environment. It allows me to liaise with Parliamentarians and their staff, while also being privileged enough to witness important events within the building. You get to watch history unfold in front of you!

What are 3 items you can’t work without?

  1. Parliamentary sitting calendar. I could not live without this
  2. Microsoft Planner! I run our whole division with this tool. It’s been very successful at keeping my executives and colleagues organised and all on the same page.
  3. Great vibes – sounds a bit weird, but for me I find I work best when I am surrounded by positive, productive, and motivated people.

Can you recommend a helpful book, program or podcast that you love?

Capital EA has played a huge part in empowering me to continue as an EA. Attending their workshops and keeping in regular contact with Ursula, I believe has been a crucial part of my success in my role. I also recommend keeping in touch with the EAs you meet along the way and forming your own network of EA buddies.




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