We’re thrilled to welcome Adam Fidler to our next C&C Search PA Hub event. As founder of Adam Fidler Academy, he’s a huge advocate of high-quality teaching, training and learning for PAs, EAs and support professionals. We’re delighted to introduce him to the C&C community here:

Adam Fidler

How did you get into the world of PA’s? What inspired you to become one?

I trained as a shorthand typist as a school boy and by the age of 14 was qualified in shorthand and typing. So, when my friends were doing paper rounds and shop jobs, I was doing secretarial work (yes, from the age of 14!). From 16, I worked part time as an administrator and temped in all my college holidays.

I never set out to be a PA, but always had the ambition to be a ‘manager’ and take the PA role to the highest level – to offer more value-adding support than just ‘secretarial’ support. I was lucky enough to work alongside top PAs at the start of my career (I only ever worked at Board level) and they inspired me to be ambitious and push the boundaries of the role.

You’ve had some very high-profile roles. What’s your biggest career tip for other PAs and EAs?

Don’t wait for the boss – or anyone – to define the role! Today’s EAs have to show their bosses and their organisations what they can bring to the role and if you wait for the boss to say ‘yes’ you’ll be waiting a long time. I always pushed their perceptions by being more involved and constantly showing that I was a true EA and business support. (But, yes, I still did secretarial things!).

You’re a champion for self-development and the language around this is changing. Do you think it’s an expectation now for us to invest in our career’s in this way?  

We know that unless the PAs and EAs change the perception of the job, take ownership of their careers and define what they do, then no one else will. Bosses today want anticipatory, managerial EAs who offer wider organisational value. It’s crucial for PAs and EAs to take ownership for their career growth and invest in training, self-awareness and life-long learning. No one will do it for you and change in the EA role is constant. How prepared are you for the future or when “HR come-a-knocking?”.

Is this career path opening up more to men?

We’ve not made as much progress in this area as one would expect. For instance, when I was 16, only 2% of PAs were men; 20 years on, it’s only still 3%. If we continue to present the role as reactive or passive – through secretarial language – then I’m not sure it will ever appeal to a new generation, whether those are boys or girls.

I never knowingly received any discrimination. I worked as a Secretary at Boots Plc at 20 years of age in the CEO’s directorate; the bosses weren’t really bothered if it was a man or a woman; they just wanted the most competent person for the job. Being highly competent, professional and skilled will always win the day and keep you in work.

Why is it so important that executive support professionals think differently about their roles to maximise success?  

Because the role is changing, and we know that Artificial Intelligence, robots and automation are taking away some of the more traditional aspects of being a PA. The mindset of a PA needs to move away from ‘secretarial’ to ‘managerial’. Your mindset and beliefs drive your behaviours. If you still think you’re ‘just a PA’ then you’ll find you act like ‘just a PA’. Fostering the managerial mindset is something I teach all my students. Their thoughts about themselves really do drive how they are perceived, and behave, at work. We’ll cover a bit more of this at my talk on the night!

What’s next for you? What are you most excited about right now?  

It’s been wonderful to offer formal and accredited qualifications to the EA/PA industry. We’ve lacked that and we have to accept qualifications give professional status, and credibility. It’s proven the more qualified you are, the more salary you can command. I agree that experience is as important; of course, but if your CV is in a pile of others, what sets you apart is having a formal qualification in being an EA. Our Level 4 programmes and qualification programmes are unrivalled. There are few providers worldwide that offer bespoke qualifications to those in the PA or EA role.

This year, I have affiliated Adam Fidler Academy with a University, which shows the quality and academic nature of our teaching. So, expansion is on the horizon and we regularly attract students from all over the world… not just from the North West of England! I didn’t expect that when I launched Adam Fidler Academy, but it’s an honour and privilege to be chosen to support their professional development.

For PAs, knowing yourself is a superpower. The PA Hub will help our growing PA community get clear on our goals, deliver more value and reach that next level of success as a game changer.

For more information about C&C Search PA Hub Series of Events please get in touch! Email sophie@candcsearch.co.uk