Karen GlennI have done various jobs during my lifetime, ranging from back office support in the money markets, being a “Havenmate” for Haven holidays, customer assistance for Ford Motor Company, through to working in IT as a database administrator. It was during that role I found myself facing redundancy at the end of 2008. It was a complete shock but I was determined to find myself a new challenge.

Within a month of being made redundant, I found myself a new career direction and moved into the role of Office Manager and PA in a new start-up company. There I found myself involved with setting up the office from scratch, writing policies & procedures, project managing the conception, creation and completion of the company stand at exhibitions (both nationally and internationally) along with being the PA to the CEO of the company. Unfortunately the business began to struggle and things were looking gloomy as the company was hit by the economic recession, so that business was then put into administration. It was during that time when the administrators were appointed that I found my next PA role within Britvic Soft Drinks in 2010 and was excited to be appointed the PA to the Chief Procurement Officer.

I found that I had taken to the role of PA like a “duck to water”, I had finally found a career that I enjoyed and turned it into an opportunity where I could embark on a successful career as a flourishing PA, it was an area I found that I had a natural enthusiasm and interest in.

The main aspect of my current role is to support my boss and her Executive team of 5 other directors within the Procurement function, which ranges from the typical PA duties of diary management, travel arrangements, expenses, enquiries from suppliers, and helping new starters within the team find their feet when they join the function. Plus the event management side for large meetings, from sourcing the venue and taking it through to the close of the meeting (when I can then relax). I also get involved in various ad-hoc projects (some team focussed some confidential business projects). Recently I have set up an internal PA network within the business, it is early days but it has been well received and the feedback has been really positive.

I also belong to various external networks, and enjoy networking with other PAs from other Industries at those events. It is great to meet other PA/EAs and to hear that we all experience the same challenges. It is rewarding when you can help another PA out with advice or guidance from something you have personally learnt from in the past. I would encourage other PAs to network with others outside of any internal PA group they have.

In my spare time I give back to my local community in Essex as a volunteer at a local community youth group for children aged from 7 to 12. My allocated role within the group (as well as Youth Leader) is the “Event Manager” for the group, which makes me responsible for ensuring the activities are age appropriate, fun, engaging and different. I also try to theme events to tie in with special events e.g. Easter, Halloween etc. The club usually has around 60 children attending each event and is all mostly funded by the youth group with occasional funds provided by the local parish council.

I am so proud to be part of the Top 50 Rising Stars Awards, as I am passionate about the role of the PA/EA and providing a high level of support to my executive and her team. Described by my line manager and her executive team as there rock. I am able to successfully build strong, trusted and valued relationships and being in “tune” with the feelings of others around, knowing when to offer additional support or advice.

If I was lucky enough to win this award, I would be extremely proud and honoured to be recognised in the PA/EA field, as this is often a role that gets overlooked for all the hard work that the PA/EAs put in for their line managers/businesses.