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Q&A with Romy Ashmore, Multi-Tasker of the Year 2020

At the PA Life Star Awards, Romy Ashmore was awarded Multi-Tasker of the Year 2020.

Romy is an Executive Assistant at RM Results and in March 2019 was offered the opportunity to undertake training to become a mental health and well-being champion.

PA Life spoke with Romy to find out more about her experience and how she felt about winning Multi-Tasker of the Year 2020…

What inspired you to start a career as an Executive Assistant?

I remember watching a film when I was about five and a secretary had long fingernails with red nail varnish and I decided at that point that I wanted to be a secretary. I have no idea what the film was but it left a lasting impression. I’m not quite so superficial these days (and have short, unpainted nails). When I was at University I temped during the summer holidays to earn extra money and ended up working as a Receptionist for some well-known companies and worked my way up. Unfortunately, like many others, I work to live, and executives have always needed assistants…

What’s the best thing about your job?

The people that I work with and the company that I work for. RM have a strict interview process but when I spoke to the Recruitment Agent nearly three years ago I realised that RM was a company with values that I agree with and wish to promote, and that belief has become stronger over the last two and a half years. I’m quite shy so I really appreciate it when I offer a suggestion and the Exec Team not only listen, but give it some thought and take it seriously – it’s the most rewarding part of the job!

And the most challenging?

Trying to organise the calendars of eight members of the Executive team against various time zones! It’s making my hair turn grey! It’s incredibly difficult to receive an email where someone states that they need a meeting with a member of the Exec at such a time on such a day when you know that there is no possible way it can happen, fortunately I’m good at mediation!

What inspired you to apply for Multi-Tasker of the Year 2020?

To be perfectly honest, Mum and I were out doing the food shop, talking about mental health and the roles that people play, I had seen an incoming email so thought it might be worth a shot, I never expected to get shortlisted, let alone win it! My role has adapted considerably over the last nine months and the Executive Team supported me whole-heartedly in any attempts that I made to bring RM together and prove that colleagues really were supported, it wasn’t just a circulated email.

How did you come up with the idea of creating a mental health and wellbeing forum?

A number of us undertook Mental Health Training in the early months of 2019, I don’t think any of us expected anything like Covid. It’s quite surreal when these things happen as you just get on with it. I was knocked over in a car accident in 1994 and very badly injured. Over the years that followed the accident I found myself floundering from time to time but I was lucky as I always had the support from my family.

What worried me most about home working was that people might be stuck in flats or houses on their own with no family contact, or indeed, contact with the outside world and I really wanted to try and re-create the normal office banter when you’re making a cup of coffee or sit down with someone for lunch. I have dogs who sit and look at me when I talk to them, but unfortunately they’re not great at answering back.

This has all been trial and error as we weren’t sure what to expect, or how to deal with it, but we seem to have forged a path and I am more than happy for that to continue, The joy of some of the work messaging apps (we use Microsoft Teams) is you can create separate “channels” on certain topics. We have one called “Let’s Chat”, which is the equivalent of a work Facebook page so people can share pictures of their pets, ask for recipes or share TV recommendations, but, and probably most important, if people are having “bad” days they can reach out and will be supported. It’s so easy to forget that we had bad days in the office too, but so much easier to grumble to a colleague whilst you turn your laptop on and then forget about it, but when you’re working from home with only virtual contact, these things can mushroom out of proportion. I’m well aware that we’re not able to bring about world-peace but I do hope that we have promoted the openness of the Let’s Chat forum so that colleagues feel they have a “safe space” should they need it. I am astounded at how well the “Let’s Chat” Channel has been received, and the participation from our offices around the world, accommodating 12 hour time differences, it really has been an amazing experience and I’m very proud to have been a part of it. The true pleasure of this is that the RM Executive Team have pledged their full support and gotten involved every step of the way, you can’t ask for more than that!

How did you feel when you won Multi-Tasker of the Year 2020?

Ecstatic – as a true multi-tasker I was in Pets At Home buying dog biscuits when I found out I had been short-listed. I realised this would be a popular category this year as I’m sure that everyone’s roles have changed to an extent with the pressures of Covid, furlough etc…. I very carefully explained to my parents, Line Manager, colleagues etc. that there was no shame in losing when I had reached the final three.

To actually win the Award was amazing! I’m not that young these days so to be able to give your family a reason to sit back and be proud all over again is a fantastic experience – but, I’ve been told I’ve got to up my game and retain the title next year!

Congratulations Romy! If you are interested in finding out more about the PA Life Star Awards please click here or to make sure you don’t miss out on any more interviews sign up to the PA Life digital subscription and newsletter today!