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Interview with 2021's Rising Star Awards Winners

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Interview with 2021's Rising Star Awards Winners

In mid-July I had the honour of being on the judging panel and the presenter for the EA/PA category in We are the City’s Rising Stars Awards. I spoke with the EA/PA winners to hear what winning has meant for them and what advice they can give to aspiring award winners.

What does it mean to have won the award?

Hilary Lambert:I am utterly thrilled to win this award!  It gives such hope that we continue to shine the light on the administrative world and recognise administrative professionals as strategic business partners of the future. Being a Rising Stars winner comes with great responsibility, particularly to be a role model who inspires confidence and motivation in others. This award is for every assistant, every administrative professional and every female under director level to give hope for a brighter future, one which I hope stirs people to say “I can do that...”

Tegan Duffy: This has given me a HUGE sense of pride. I am enormously proud of myself to have even been nominated by my firm for this award, let alone to win. I feel this is just the start of my PA career and winning something like this just gives me so much more motivation and ambition to keep thriving. Becoming a ‘Rising Stars’ winner does not get much better than that!

Saadia Sharmin: To win the EA/PA Award is not just an individual recognition but reflects on the work that my team does daily. Too often organisations forget to remember or award the nitty gritty work administration professionals undertake on a daily basis, so to receive this award has certainly been refreshing and I encourage more organisations to nominate their often unsung colleagues. I am ecstatic to be recognised amongst some of the best women in the profession and I am extremely grateful. 

Ann Hodson: I am incredibly proud to be one of the winners in the EA & PA category of the Rising Star awards. Hearing the reasons for my nomination reminded me just how passionate I am about this profession and why I've stayed in it for nearly 30 years. The exposure and support I have received has been phenomenal and has resulted in networking opportunities with fellow winners in all categories as well as development opportunities with C&C that I'm looking forward to progressing. 

What would you like to see happen in the administrative profession?

Hilary Lambert: As we recover from the global pandemic (one of the most challenging landscapes our business has ever seen), I predict the traditional Executive Assistant role (diary management, travel and expenses) to become obsolete as a result of Artificial Intelligence. If my prediction is correct, we must commit to spreading our message far and wide that we are professionals, we need to be treated inclusively and that we want to be given opportunities to flourish. Part of that commitment should be educating employers how best to recognise, support and retain this enormous (largely female) talent pool.

Tegan Duffy: I would love to see the dynamics change and excel in ‘Virtual PAs’ with the last year of ‘remote working’ becoming the new normal. It’s important that we leverage our experience of the past year to enhance our profession and online presence. In addition, I would like to see more online workshops to adapt to this ‘new normal’ and a sharing knowledge platform for all London PA/EAs.

Saadia Sharmin: Going forward, I think more awareness and appreciation for administrative professionals would be something we would all appreciate. The onus and workload placed on us since the pandemic started has been chaotic and overwhelming for many. I am grateful for Black Antelope Law for having always appreciated the role I play and would suggest other organisations follow suit.

Ann Hodson: We need to continue to nurture and develop young talent through apprenticeships, training and mentoring. We need to embrace, recognise and acknowledge those with experience in the profession so that we continue to have amazing EAs and PAs in every business who feel valued and respected. I want this profession to be a career choice for people and something that people want to do for the next 30 years. 

What advice would you give other EA/PAs to help them develop their careers?

Hilary Lambert: Utilise every opportunity available to you,  training, network events, have coffee with a senior, get a mentor, use LinkedIn, participate in diversity and inclusion events. Talk to everyone! Be bold, take a chance and get comfortable with being out of your comfort zone. Be tenacious in your work ethic and visualise your goals EVERY DAY.  Create a network of valuable peers, mentors and sponsors. When you find your success, remain humble, never stop learning and thank the people who guided you on your journey.  Finally, pay it forward when you see someone who has a dream and wants to make it real.

Tegan Duffy: Go for it! Just keep going, do the best you can do and always bring your skillset to the table. Bringing your own personality/skills to your day to day work life can have a huge impact on the way you work and how you develop within your team. Make yourself stand out from the crowd.

Saadia Sharmin: Networking is key for EAs/PAs to progress and enhance their career abilities – in fact, virtual networking though platforms such as LinkedIn is highly recommended as the demand for administration staff is high!

Ann Hodson: Network with other EAs and PAs, both in your business and externally, there are lots of amazing local PA networks you can join. Develop yourself and your skillset and attend all the training you can - every day is a learning day. Most importantly, be kind and treat everyone with the same respect you expect for yourself.  You never know when you might need support from someone you spoke to six months ago.