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10 minutes with Lindsay Taylor on inspiring women to make their mark

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We spoke to Lindsay Taylor, multi-award winning author, trainer, coach, plus a co-founder and Director of Your Excellency Limited as part of our Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day series. Lindsay is also a learning and development specialist and highly regarded in the EA and PA community. And that’s not all as she’s also recently won the “Outstanding Contribution Award” at Strategic PA Network’s Award Evening for her ‘unwavering commitment to the profession, consistently going above and beyond to meet the needs of her clients’. Let’s hear from Lindsay Taylor on inspiring women…

“Firstly, thank you for inviting me to feature in this series of interviews with inspirational women.
I am honoured to share some highlights and challenges from my career as well as offering advice to young women aspiring to make their mark.

Your Excellency Limited, specialising in providing learning and development to the EA and PA profession was set up in 2007. I’ve been Director here now for 17 years (gulp).  I can say, hand on heart, that I love what I do and do what I love! However, there are challenges in being a business owner. It’s bloody hard work and takes diligence and determination. In the infamous words of Churchill, ‘blood, sweat and tears’ are involved no matter what sector or industry you’re working in.  Your business is yours – and because of that there’s a powerful bond that drives you to ensure you do everything to make it a success.

A challenge and some advice for any working professional is to get the balance right and make sure you schedule in ‘down time’.

I set up Your Excellency Ltd so I would have more freedom and flexibility with my time and could really enjoy the children growing up. I could be at the school gates at 3.45pm to pick up my daughter Lottie, I could join our son Josh for a golf tournament (he’s now working as Business Development Manager here at Your Excellency!). I could attend the Christmas production on a weekday morning or take part in the parents relay race at sports day (okay I’m getting a bit carried away now…maybe not the latter!).

Running your own business means you’re your own boss. You set your hours of work. If you’re sat with your laptop on your knee firing off emails at midnight and that’s your choice, that’s your choice. But if it’s encroaching on your’down time’ and impacting your physical and/or mental wellbeing you need to have a serious word with yourself. You have to ensure you’re taking that much needed “down time”.

I have lots of energy and love being busy but know I need to stop what I’m doing regularly, to pause and reflect on how things are going and to congratulate myself for the ‘bloody hard work’ that I do.  I book holidays, events and outings in advance so I’ve always got something to look forward to. And then, of course, receiving accolades and acknowledgment from the EA, PA community (like my recent win at The Strategic PA Network Awards 2023) definitely validates that I’m making a difference.

Relationships matter

My advice to anyone looking to make their mark is to remember that when you meet others you are building a relationship. I love the sayings that “people buy people” and “rapport is everything”.  When you meet someone for the first time it’s all about first-impressions. It’s about creating and then maintaining the best working relationship. I love networking and am really curious about people (I regularly say “curiosity is the foundation to all learning) and I’m really proud of the Business Friends arrangement we have with so many individuals and organisations who complement what we do here at Your Excellency. Always seek out other people’s expertise and help. A successful business isn’t a solo operation!

Which female role models helped inspire your career?

Without a shadow of a doubt, this would be my granny and my mum, sadly neither of whom are alive today but I hope they are looking down from their respective heavenly clouds and smiling at hearing me say this! Growing up I was always encouraged to “be me” and to seize every opportunity to learn, grow, to do what I wanted or needed to do to succeed and ultimately, because that’s what life is all about, to be happy!

A recent Lunch n Learn issue shared a chapter of my book about my Granny – I’m hugely proud that she was stationed at Bletchley Park, home of the “code breakers” during the war based on her IQ. Response to that issue was quite overwhelming with messages from readers who also said their female relatives were an inspiration to them too.

There’s a lot to be said for a strong matriarch and I hope I am continuing to provide support and encouragement to my own daughter, Lottie, as she navigates the world and, unfortunately, the inbalance and disparity that still exists between male and female opportunities.

The gender pay gap is still prevalent across most industries, how would you encourage women to ask for a promotion and/or a pay rise?

Hmm with regard to a pay rise, that’s a challenging one. Many organisations will have pay scales so you’re going to have parameters to work within but if you’ve done the research and know that your earnings fall short of those benchmarked for your role, sector and geographical area, it’s time to put into practice some assertive communication skills for definite. Remember that ‘failing to plan is planning to fail’, so planning your message is crucial. Research pay scales for your profession so you’ve got that benchmark. Arrange a meeting with HR or your Executive. Lay out the information and evidence before them. Demonstrate how you’re meeting (exceeding, ideally!) the requirements of your role and that you feel your contribution to the team warrants a pay increase.

For a promotion, you need to demonstrate that you are excelling in your current role and be proactive in getting involved in tasks that will be a part of the role you are aspiring to.  Put yourself forward to help with projects or initiatives, book onto training courses, keep feedback from your team on your successes.  If you really want something, you need to do everything possible to prove that (to yourself and others).  Who do you know that can help you too?  Networking (who you know!) accounts for 60% of your career progression according to some research done by the Institute of Employment Studies. Join a networking group, sign up for a mentoring programme, find a mentor, be a mentor…

There are many contributing factors for the gender wealth gap such as the ‘Motherhood Tax’. What are your thoughts on this?

I get frown lines thinking about this…especially as one of my overarching values is fairness and there’s an obvious bias that exists in today’s society that we need to work through as females. On a practical level what we can do about this is to educate ourselves on the research. In doing so, we can build awareness of what’s going on in society and therefore know when something isn’t right so that we can have level-headed and intelligent conversations about it.

More about Your Excellency Limited and the key role Lindsay plays

Whatever your title of preference– CEO, Director, MD, Owner, Founder – what this actually means is that you’re going to have to wear many hats to succeed.  You’ll need to grasp commercial, finance, marketing, compliance, IT and other skills and know-how.  I remember early on in Your Excellency’s life, when the phone rang and someone asked for the “Finance Department”. The caller obviously imaged an organisation larger than our existing 2 Directors at the time.  I had the urge to put them on hold for a few minutes as I transferred them (back to me – the other side of the desk, now holding a calculator and opening an Excel spreadsheet to feel more the part……).

Because I’m doing what I LOVE and I LOVE what I’m doing, I have so many highlights so far in my career, and I hope, many more to come! I grew up in the Far East and love travel so have been able to combine work engagements with travel and to revisit my ‘home’ in Hong Kong several times. I remember one training programme I ran in Singapore where the delegates and I decided it was too chilly in the airconditioned training room so we took our course workbooks out to the pool side and I continued sharing the learning programme from the cabanas. Heaven!

For a perfectionist and a fiercely independent character,  this  is one of my greatest pieces of advice.  There is no failure in admitting that you need help and outside expertise. Indeed you could be hindering your success by not tapping into the resources (and people in your network) available to you.   Remember that and you’ll go a long way. Collaborations and partnerships are key to your success.

I believe flexibility is a character trait of any successful professional

Be flexible in terms of the amount of time tasks take to complete.  Add on a bit.  Then a bit more.  Be prepared for the unexpected.  “Morph” your business or activities according to the opportunities that come your way.  Don’t be afraid to change tact if something isn’t working as you’d planned and hoped for.  Be open to new ideas.

Honesty and integrity feature high on my list of values and underpin everything I stand for here at Your Excellency.  There needs to be a transparency when running your own business.  You need to be honest and direct with your customers, clients and team members and act with integrity at all times.  Everyone needs to know how things stand in order that they have an accurate appreciation of a situation.   I was recently asked to speak on the topic of economics at a rather salubrious event in London.  At the intellectual level we are talking about, this is “not my bag” in any way, shape or form so I honestly responded that this wasn’t my area of expertise (at the same time recommending an Associate as better suited to this opportunity).

A constant “highlight” of my role is that I love to support EAs and PAs with their career and learning journey. Having been an EA/PA myself prior to setting up Your Excellency, I know how diverse the role is and what the inevitable challenges are that you will face during your working day. The adage that “Time flies when you are having fun!” truly fits for me.  Find a career that you are passionate about!  Of course, I would be lying if I didn’t say that there are aspects of my role that I least enjoy, but for the most part I wake up on a Monday morning with a smile and vigour to do what I love doing for the week ahead.

Your Excellency’s ethos when training is that “fun learning makes for memorable learning” and I truly believe I live and breathe that in terms of running Your Excellency.  I hope my inputs are inspiring to you all!

Your Excellency Limited is one of our PA Life Club partners. Any executive and admin assistant can join our PA Life Club for free! See how and enjoy benefits such as partner offers, invitations to FAM Trips and discounted online courses.