Our recent PA Profile interview is with Anita Payne, Assistant at Pan European Equities at Schroders. She shares her top tips and insights from her role, and discusses the rapidly changing workplace, plus the need to look after the wellbeing of you and your team.
What was your journey like into your career as a PA?
I’ve worked for Schroders since 2018 and love the Company and my job as an Assistant in Pan European Equities. I’ve been an Assistant for over 26 years and my roles have ranged from supporting Senior Management on a 1-1 basis, to looking after a team of 27 at Schroders. I fell into the support role when an employment agency sent me for the wrong interview, but I haven’t looked back since.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I work with a great team and we’re very lucky to have an amazingly supportive and approachable Line Manager. The role is busy, varied and sometimes challenging, aspects I enjoy. I love especially organising events and my current role didn’t officially incorporate this, so I joined the Sports and Social Committee and now get to organise events for the company.
These are great for networking and staff morale. TOP TIP: Get involved.
The role of a PA has changed hugely with technology and flexible working. What are your biggest challenges today?
I found my biggest challenge working from home was scheduling a break into my day, but I’ve now got into the habit of doing this. A walk outside is great for my mental and physical health. Time in the office is important too as it keeps me connected to work and my peers and stops feelings of isolation. It’s great we have the flexibility to do both to suit the needs of the team.
Working for a large number of people presents its own challenges catering for different personalities and needs. Time management and being attentive are key.
What has changed about your role since the pandemic?
Travel bookings and expenses took a nose-dive but are now very much on the increase. One of my favourite tasks is processing expenses so I’m happy about that.
I have to manage more hybrid meetings with some staff being in the office and others dialling in remotely. This works well with the technology we have in place.
What technology has proved invaluable in your role?
Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and MS Teams were in their infancy prior to Covid but now this technology has progressed considerably and is a regular feature of the business.
The Outlook App on my iPhone/iPad has proved invaluable, as I can work ‘on the go’. This ensures I don’t miss anything time critical and remain up-to-date.
Are there any skills you’re looking to improve over the next few months?
I’m a Mental Health First Aider and MINDS ambassador and keen to explore these areas more. I’m writing this during Mental Health Awareness Week (11-15 May) just having come off a very interesting call with the Samaritans on Looking After your own and others’ Wellbeing.
TOP TIPS: make time for yourself, relax and do things you enjoy, eat healthily, get plenty of sleep and exercise, talk about your problems with someone you trust and be proud of what you’re good at. I try to bring energy, positivity and enthusiasm to work with me every day.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I’ve been given was by my current boss said to me ‘don’t feel you need to fill an empty moment in conversation, invite others in with open questions’. I’ve taken that great piece of advice onboard.
When asked about what’s next in my career I’d say I’m forward looking and always open to a new project, but I’m busy and work hard where I’m now. I have to be careful not to overstretch myself and ensure I have time and energy to meet the needs of my teams.
What websites do you have bookmarked?
PA Life of course, The PA Club, Miss Jones, Trailfinders, Tripadvisor and Top Table are just a few.
What are you favourite podcasts and apps?
Les Mills on Demand, MyFitnessPal and Fitbit. I’ve just downloaded Caria, which I’m finding very interesting.
Who do you most admire and why?
My parents are great role models. They’ve worked hard and have a wide group of friends, still very sociable into their 70s and 80s. They’re very family-oriented and are always there for helpful advice and direction. I have a 30-year old daughter, Emma, who works in the Insurance industry. I’m so proud of her, her work ethic is amazing and, and as a result, she is doing really well in her career.
Do you attend any PA networking events, and if so, what do they help you with?
I love attending PA networking events. They’re a great opportunity to meet like-minded assistants from other companies and exchange views on the latest venues, new technology and our favourite apps. I always meet someone new.
What would you like to share about your personal life with our readers e.g. hobby or a passion, charity you work for, family?
I got married three weeks before the first lockdown in February 2020 and my honeymoon was rebooked six times due to Covid!
My husband, Mark and I, moved to the country in November 2021. We now own a house in Battlesbridge, Essex, which is well known for its antiques in the local area and very popular with visitors on weekends. Rod Stewart was in my local pub, The Barge Inn, a few months ago and Keith Lemon and Danny Dyer were filming an episode of ‘Shopping with Keith Lemon’ for ITV there in March. I now enjoy long walks along the River Crouch and my hot tub overlooks the farmers fields. We even had the farmer and his family over for our house-warming party, along with lots of friends eager to see where we’d move to.
We’ve joined the Royal Horticultural Society as we’re five minutes from RHS Hyde Hall and the National Allotment Society and we’ve just bought a plot on a brand new allotment in Rettendon. We have no idea what to do but other owners seem very willing to share their knowledge; we’re all ears, hopefully just like the corn we intend to grow!
You can connect with Anita on LinkedIn
If you want to view more interviews with people like Anita, why not take a look at our other PA profiles? Or why take a look at some of our latest news and events in the world of personal assistants.