With over a decade of education experience under her belt, Sandy Chander – PA to Ricky Martin and communications and marketing officer at Hyper Recruitment Solutions Ltd (HRS) – embraced a career change as an assistant five years ago. Jade Burke catches up with her to find out how she hopes to raise more awareness of dyslexia and why she’s known as a ‘walking prospectus’.
‘Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life’, is the work mantra Sandy Chander, PA to Ricky Martin at Hyper Recruitment Solutions Ltd (HRS), swears by. And this certainly resonates well with her when it comes to her current role. As well as being the assistant to the former winner of the BBC’s The Apprentice, she also serves as the firm’s communications and marketing officer, making her days in the Essex-based office an intriguing mix.
I’m heading to London’s Mayfair to meet with Chander inside the chic Athenaeum Hotel, and it’s clear from the outset that she is committed to her role as a PA. From her punctual manner to her preparation for today’s shoot, being a PA is part of her DNA.
Having spent 12 years working in the education sector prior to joining HRS five years ago, I’m curious as to why she made the switch and how she formed a career for herself in this industry.
“I wanted a complete change of career,” she tells me. “I knew my next role had to be unique as did the company, and I was fortunate to have found both. Prior to this job, I spent 12 years working in the education sector in many roles including teaching, which has given me a variety of experience.
“I’ve been able to use all the skills I have developed over my career in this role. I’ve had countless opportunities to be involved in things that I didn’t even dream of.”
Learning new skills is crucial for any form of self-development, something that’s a hot topic within the PA market, and Chander doesn’t shy away from anything. With a plastering and nail technician course under her belt, she is still keen to add many more strings to her bow to help develop and progress her career.
“Go for a career, not just a job. Find a company you can grow with and make sure there’s chemistry.”
“I absolutely love learning,” enthuses Chander. “I think I will carry on studying until my old age – I have been told I am a ‘walking prospectus’. I believe it’s great to have a variety of skills, you never know when you will need them.”
Of course, working with a boss who supports your ambitions is essential to achieving new skills and it seems Chander has found just that in Martin. After setting up his own recruitment consultancy, Chander tells me how supportive he is of learning and improving on your current skillset.
She continues: “I am fortunate enough to have been given endless opportunities based on my experience, I’ve not been held back in my job at all. All the skills you acquire throughout your career are transferrable, so it’s important to find a company and an amazing boss who values that and helps you to develop your skills beyond your role.”
After 12 years in education, Chander has continued her passion for learning through the launch of her own tutoring business, which she says her boss was instrumental in helping to achieve her dream.
“Setting up a business is hard work and not as glamorous as people think,” Chander tells me. “Ricky was very positive and encouraging towards it. He has been a great mentor and my number one supporter, I’ve been fortunate to have had his advice and encouragement. I know without him, I would have made so many more mistakes and would have delayed it even longer. He’s been a huge inspiration to me, both professionally and personally.”
Alongside this, she works for the British Dyslexia Association and teaches children with dyslexia during classes in the week, as well as delivering workshops covering topics such as networking and problem solving with a soft skills training consultancy.
It’s fair to say her plate is very much full, but this isn’t stopping her from doing more. As some employers are reluctant to learn more about dyslexia, Chander’s aim is to raise more awareness in the workplace about how this learning difficulty can affect the day-to-day lives of employees.
Chander shares: “It’s great that we’re all talking about it now, but do we know what dyslexia is? For the majority, probably not, it’s simply a label. Whether it’s within education or the workplace, the focus should be on intervention and trying to support that person.
“Most dyslexics seem to have a creative and/or entrepreneur side to them, take Lord Sugar and Richard Branson for example. The industry needs to be more aware of how to support a dyslexic person, they are no different to the rest of us and usually have so much to offer as they are most likely to think outside of the box.”
With a sibling who has dyslexia, I know only too well how an employer can choose to discriminate an employee with this issue. So, here’s hoping that Chander’s efforts can really pay off and make a difference for children and adults alike.
“I’ve not been held back in my job at all. It’s important to find a company and an amazing boss who values that and helps you to develop your skills beyond your role.”
After leaving her full-time teaching job around five years ago, Chander sought out a new challenge to sink her teeth into, which is how she stumbled across her position as PA to Ricky Martin. A well-known public figure, famous for his stint on The Apprentice, I wonder what it’s like to work for a celebrity? Is he a demanding diva living up to his celebrity status? Chander reassures me he couldn’t be further from that, thanks to his infectious positive attitude, and says that every day working alongside him is enjoyable.
“I love it, it’s really fun. One day I could be working on a task that involves sitting at my desk, the next moment I am on stage with the MD in front of an audience or supporting him at the Twitter HQ for a live Q&A,” she adds.
As a seasoned assistant with buckets of experience, Chander knows what to look for in a new role and why any aspiring PA should strive to find themselves a career they can revel in.
“Go for a career, not just a job. Find a company you can grow with and make sure there’s chemistry,” Chander concludes. “The values of the company need to be in line with your own. You also need to think about what you want out of your role. Do your research on the company, is it the kind of place you feel you can be happy and progress in?
“Once you know what your values are, the rest will fall into place. For me it’s about making a difference, so if I can’t do that then I know it’s not right for me.”