I’d been working as a PA for almost 3 years. In addition to my usual responsibilities, I found myself getting involved in other projects. I have a creative as well as organisation skillset so I was always trying to find ways I could refine things; help improve the vibe of the office etc. I tend to go the extra mile in almost everything I was undertaking. So, after a while, I felt it was time for a new challenge. I had established great organisational, communication and creative problem-solving skills as well as building my network of Leaders, fellow PA’s and EA’s. But I wasn’t sure how to ask, or what to ask of that network. I felt I knew a lot about the business but the more I learned the more I realised there was to learn. I felt that if I was going to move out of the PA Role, I would need to identify the gaps in my understanding and find ways of improving any weak areas. This is often the most difficult problem. In my case, I could see where I wanted to be, I understood where I was but had no clue of the most effective way to get there. That’s where I felt I needed a mentor.
I heard about the PA Forum from a Senior PA I worked with who was attending an event in Birmingham at the Genting hotel and invited me to come along. I almost didn’t go, I was flying to Vienna the next day to meet a friend with my husband, and my suitcase wasn’t even packed! But I’m glad now that I took the time to attend. Through the PA forum I heard about the mentor scheme. The process was simple. I emailed Daniel my details and he matched me up with Mel Bates, introducing us by email #LockdownLife
Mel and I had about 5 or 6 meetings over Teams over the space of 5 months, one of my main objectives (which I’m still working on) is to ensure I can present the ‘WOW’ factors about myself on paper, I believe those I’ve shared my CV & development plan with tell me I undersell myself! (I do a much better job in person.)
It was great to be able to talk with someone about my job who was outside of the organisation. This allowed me to gain a perspective on my plausible routes for advancement. Mel was able to help me think outside of the parameters of the role and the established processes which I feel gave me an edge in my development.
A few months after the mentoring had begun, I was incredibly happy to tell Mel that I’d put myself forward for a role within my department and had been accepted. At that same meeting, I was delighted when Mel shared that she too was starting a new role!
I found great value in having a mentor, the sessions are entirely flexible, you decide how often you want to meet, and set the informal agenda.
One of the key takeaways from the experience was that my skills were adaptable and transferable. One of the side effects of lockdown was a sort of silo-ing. With no office, opportunities to collaborate were harder to come by and the temptation to stay in your lane during difficult times made the idea of progressing feel impossible. The mentoring gave me confidence to consider possibilities, help me challenge and adapt my thinking, not only to the moment but the job and what potential I had in the business.
I would highly recommend joining the mentor scheme, whether you’re looking to improve aspects of your work, hungry for progression in a long-term career, or just need a sounding board. This safe space is a great place for that growth.
Don’t overthink the process, do the best that you can & believe in yourself.