Interview with a seasoned PA pro

Amanda Snowball in black and white

Being a PA can be a rigorous job and often comes with long hours and little praise, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. A talented PA/EA is crucial to helping a manager perform their role and is key in assisting a company to grow, innovate and find continued success. 

We spoke with Amanda Snowball, PA to six partners at FRP Advisory LLP (and admin support to 16 members of staff) and winner of Manchester’s PA of the Year in 2016, to get insight into being an in-demand PA within financial services, and gain some key advice she would give support professionals who want to grow and excel in their career. 

Key responsibilities

A PA's role can vary across a wide spectrum of responsibilities and no two days are usually the same.

“Some of my key duties include procurement transactions, partners’ expenses, invoicing, IT issues, reception, marketing, facilities, event organising, monthly reports for the Operations Board and maintaining the CRM system. The list is ever increasing,” Amanda stated.

“In addition, I provide secretarial/admin support to the team as and when needed as I am the only PA and admin support within the office. I therefore wear numerous hats for my role."

That diversity can be one of the most rewarding aspects of a PA or EA role.

Amanda continues, “I love the variety of my role; it certainly keeps you on your toes. I am very much a people person and I enjoy the constant interaction with key clients and colleagues alike.”

Challenges in your role

Being a PA is one of the most demanding roles, and can come with many challenges. We asked Amanda what the biggest challenge is that she faces in her role.

“Being able to prioritise tasks for the partners’ and the team as well as trying to be the jack of all trades. My role as PA has evolved so much since I began working here. It can be overwhelming at extremely busy times, and it is guaranteed that people will want everything all at the same time, but the amount of responsibility is what motivates me.”

“I am a highly organised person and enjoy the way I can create a smooth and efficient day for the partners. I find it very rewarding, professionally and personally.”

Networking is important for support professionals

Many professionals think networking is not as important in support roles, instead relying heavily on their skills and their CV when looking for another role. However, networking can be critical when you are looking to change roles. PAs and EAs are usually one of the first to find out about new roles within an organisation. Building a network of other professionals you can reach out to gives you an advantage over other professionals looking for their next role.

In addition, if you’re in a PA role where you are client-facing and need to make BD connections, networking groups and opportunities will help you expand your circle of contacts and benefit the business. The same is true for PAs who need to recommend restaurants, venues, etc. to their managers; a good network can help you find the perfect recommendations.

“I would not be the current Manchester PA of the Year without the MPAN (Manchester PA Network). It has given me so much confidence, and opened up a whole new world,” Amanda continued.

“I have made so many friends, and have strong relationships with my peers who I can rely upon for any advice, suggestions, expertise, lunch dates, prosecco, fun and laughter. In addition, when I started in my current role, I was totally new to Manchester. The network helped me via visiting venues and restaurants, and I was able to draw on these experiences for recommendations to the partners.”

Key tips

When asked her number one tip for support professionals, Amanda stated without hesitation - join a network

“Join a network. It has helped me greatly in becoming a brand ambassador for my company. It is a chance to meet like-minded people from a diverse range of industries and work together to support each other whilst enhancing understanding and recognition of the assistant role,” Amanda said.

Another key piece of advice is to try and work for an organisation or managers you enjoy working for; this will make the stressful times less difficult. It does not mean you will love every day, but it can make even the worst of work situations more bearable. I love the variety of my role; it certainly keeps you on your toes. I am very much a people person and I enjoy the constant interaction with key clients and colleagues alike

Amanda elaborates, “I relish how [my] team gels together; it couldn’t work any other way. We have great banter and this is a massive help when everyone is bogged down with work and needs a pick me up.”

“I am proud to be a PA and proud of what I have achieved in such a short space of time and I know my employers appreciate it too.”

Interested in becoming a PA or finding a new support or administrative role? Search which jobs we have available today.  

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