In our latest PA interview Cara Gaffney, a PA at Office Space in Town and a PA Life Star Awards 2019 winner, talks about how she started life as an Assistant, her daily challenges and why technology is so important to the role…
What inspired you to start a career as a PA/EA?
Growing up, The Devil Wears Prada was always one of my favourite films and I loved the glamorous lifestyle that surrounded PAs in the media, so this inspired me. But the busy nature of a career as a PA is what really encouraged me, and luckily in real life the tasks aren’t as ridiculous as “find me the Harry Potter book that hasn’t been released” yet!
How did you get your current job?
I joined the company at 19 years-old as a receptionist, working for the first time in the City. Shortly after joining I heard that the CEO was looking for a new PA and thought: ‘what have I got to lose?’. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!
What’s the best thing about your job?
As a PA your day-to-day tasks vary a lot. The best thing for me is that you never know what a day in the office might consist of, from event organisation to searching for summer holiday homes. I love being part of the team and seeing the projects we work so hard to achieve become a reality. Of course, there are the mundane admin tasks too, but being a PA definitely has its perks!
And the most challenging?
As a PA/EA you have to juggle. There is always more than one thing going on at once and my mind is constantly racing, flicking from one thought to the next. Organisation is key and a notebook for writing check lists is essential!
What does the PA/EA community need to change, in your opinion?
The perception of the role needs to change – every PA job is different, and the role is continuously evolving. We still manage diaries and make travel arrangements, but we also contribute to the goals and visions of the organisation. As a PA you are not just part of the mechanics in the background, you are a visible part of the business and need to be able to represent your senior manager in conversation and in writing.
What is having the biggest impact on your job or on PAs/EAs in general?
Technology means tasks that were historically time consuming can now be done at the click of a button. Although AI seems to be evolving very quickly, I’d like to think that I couldn’t be completely replaced by a robot, though!
What websites/apps are invaluable to your job?
We use Office 365, which has so many apps that enable information to be shared and stored. It has transformed the way we communicate and has evolved our working processes. For me personally, I am very dependent on my iPhone reminders from Siri.