C&C is delighted to welcome Paula Gibson, founder of the JLT PA Network to our next PA Hub event. Alongside a demanding day job, Paula also runs her own foodie blog so she’ll be chatting us through how side-hustles are a great way to build your career. We can’t wait to welcome Paula to Wednesday’s session!
What inspired you to become a PA?
I became a PA purely by accident, I have both a BA and MA in Acting. Whilst acting, I contracted at an insurance company supporting a team and then took on a maternity cover to look after the CEO.
I felt like I could be quite good at being a PA. I’m a social person, relatively organised and don’t fear senior executives! I also saw some of the perks that come with being a PA and aspired to have those too.
What was your inspiration behind the JLT PA Network?
The JLT PA Network came about when I joined a global organisation (JLT) and saw that the PAs were at the bottom of the ladder in terms of importance. I wanted better recognition and respect for how hard PAs work and to enhance our value. There was also a gap for tailored development sessions as the generic training offered by HR didn’t really appeal.
What’s more, by connecting all the PAs throughout the organisation, we can share best practice, knowledge and information – all of which ultimately benefit the business.
With the JLT PA Network and your blog, City intrigue, you’ve truly carved out your own lane. How do you prioritise these commitments?
The JLT PA Network is something I chip away at each day when I have the time. More recently, my inner circle of key PAs have begun to host Network events so this has freed up my time, and helped us grow.
City intrigue is my creative outlet which I absolutely love. I’ve always enjoyed writing and I especially enjoy being able to promote deserving restaurant and hotels to my network of PAs and friends.
Finding your tribe – why is this so important for PAs and EAs in particular?
There’s still a long way to go in terms of PAs and EAs receiving the respect and recognition they so deserve. A collective voice in your organisation goes further! Last year, I introduced Speaker Series, sessions where senior members of the organisation come to speak about their role, career to date and the importance of their PAs. After one session with our Global CEO, she kindly agreed to a sizeable budget towards my training sessions which was an incredible outcome. I’m a big believer finding your tribe helps support your career.
How do you define your tribe? How have your grown yours?
I define my tribe as a group of women who all do similar roles and think in a similar way to me. I have so enjoyed getting to know everyone in the PA Network since it launched and the camaraderie that has evolved from it. It’s a group of intelligent, inspiring and hardworking women.
What’s one thing we can all do today to get closer to finding our tribe?
Think about what kind of tribe you’d like to be part of. If you are a PA who wants to meet more likeminded PAs then there are so many ways you can do so. Look up some networking events that are taking place near you or if you have enough PAs in your organisation, be bold and stick a date in the diary for your network’s launch event!
What’s next for you? What are you most excited about right now?
I am excited about the ambitious PAs out there who constantly push themselves, break boundaries and inspire me every day! I have really relished all the opportunities I’ve personally been given over the last two years to be a guest speaker and share my story at PA conferences and events. I want to continue on that trajectory and keep stepping out of my comfort zone wherever I can.
In my day job I support my manager who is our Group Treasurer, lead the JLT PA Network and also sit on our Group Charities committee which I thoroughly enjoy. My role at the moment offers great variety and I want this same kind of variety to continue in whatever I do next.
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