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PA Profile: Danielle Francis, Executive Assistant at Ankura Consulting

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We spoke to Danielle Francis, Executive Assistant at Ankura Consulting, about her role that extends to mentoring other PAs and EAs and also to organising work social and charity activities.

I’ve been in my role for 3 years and support the Chairman for EMEA & APAC, Head of People and 2 Senior Managing Directors. I have worked in the Business Support industry for over 15 year, first at a local mortgage company, later in different industries in PA and EA roles. I feel honoured to have won several awards over the years and I also give talks and mentor other PAs and EAs.

What’s your typical day like at Ankura?

I’m sure most assistants can relate to this – there isn’t a typical day! I support multiple Senior Managing Directors as well as the Chairman so it’s always a very varied day and I never know what’s going to come my way. I’m involved in a lot of travel arrangements, expenses processing, diary management, onboarding staff as well as in various projects. My Chairman covers EMEA and APAC, in which we have eight offices and are growing further, so there’s lots of international calls and dealing with different time zones.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love getting involved in event organising, it’s one of my favourite things to do. This can range from private dining right through to large drinks receptions. I love finding new and interesting venues and suppliers and doing my best to make each event special and memorable.

What do you find most challenging in your role?

One of the biggest challenges is definitely dealing with all the different time zones! I’m regularly tasked with finding times for an urgent call that has attendees in the US, Australia, UK and Dubai, for example. It’s a lot of checking what time works best, and also unlike the UK, some countries have different time zones depending on where they are, such as the East and West Coast of the USA.

What tool, technology or service you couldn’t do without in your job?

Since the pandemic, there has been a much bigger reliance on video calling platforms. I use both MS Teams and Zoom, something that I rarely needed to deal with before the pandemic. We operate a hybrid working model so it’s important to provide flexibility for our meetings for not just our international attendees, but also those in the London office who may be working from home.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?

Keep learning! It’s something I promote and talk about all the time on webinars and to my mentees. Our industry has moved along so much over the years, it’s important to keep up with changes, new tools and techniques. You can always learn something new and becoming better at your role. There’s always room for growth.

Are you involved in any special projects that you are particularly passionate about?

I’m part of a team that looks after the social and charity side of the office. We are currently raising money for Make-A-Wish UK and organise fundraising events from coffee mornings to sponsored runs. It’s amazing to see what a difference our fundraising makes to such a special organisation and the amazingly brave children and their families who benefit. In addition, we also try to have regular social events with the office to encourage collaboration and relationship building.

This issue’s theme is sustainability and one of the special features is Christmas Parties.

Have you got any tips for organising a great Christmas party with sustainable values and what’s your favourite kind of Christmas party?

Sustainability has become such a prominent point for many businesses, especially venues, and many now have sustainability policies in place, so it is worth asking them and finding out. Also, think about recycling and recyclable materials – not only with recycling bottles and cans, but think about the suppliers in the first place.

For a sit-down dinner, is it possible to use recycled or sustainable linen and napkins? Is the cutlery reusable? Are the decorations eco-friendly? Don’t forget the food – ensure you have plant-based options, look into buying from local farmers and food producers, try to avoid food wastage so don’t over order.

These ideas don’t just apply to Christmas Parties, but all events you might arrange and host. We all have different ideas of fun, so try to incorporate various ideas and entertainment in your party. Personally, I love a good Christmas Party that isn’t overly structured and can really allow staff to enjoy themselves.

You can connect with Danielle on LinkedIn

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