Ellie Griffiths PA to Chief Executive/Principal at Q3 Academy
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The fast paced environment ensures no two days are ever the same within my role. Education is evolving at such a rate that it is important to keep updated with the latest legislation. You never get the feeling of being dissatisfied or not being challenged as every day there is a new obstacle to overcome and mountain to climb. The rewards are immense especially on results days when students thank you for the support you have given them even within a non-teaching capacity.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
I have been fortunate enough to have a number of highlights within my present role. I had the privilege to manage the official opening of a £30M building in November 2010 with the Earl of Wessex as the special guest, not only was I to undertake the event management on behalf of the Principal but I was able to gain regional media coverage for the event.
I have also recently been heavily involved in the filming of two National Commercials by the Department Of Education entitled “get into teaching”. Both commercials were filmed using our students and one commercial was completed during the Academy day where over 1,000 students were positioned during two 7 hour days. These experiences have been both challenging and rewarding in so many different ways and when I see the faces of the students involved and how proud they are to be featured on national television, it makes the role worthwhile and gives me a real sense of pride.
Lastly I have been given the freedom to develop myself through the creation and leadership of a Regional PA Network which brings together approximately 30 other PAs and Administration professionals from within the Education sector to share good practices and advice within their ever changing roles. We meet three times a year, it is difficult to gain CPD opportunities within an educational PA role and this I have been reassured is extremely effective as a form of development (if you would like to join our network please email firstname.lastname@example.org).
What skills do you think have helped you most in your job?
I think to be an effective PA you have to have a unique personality with a can do attitude. Unfortunately the best skill you need to poses is common sense and the ability to be a bit psychic as you are often working 3 steps ahead. When you have worked with someone for 8 years you get to understand how they like certain jobs to be completed and are able to pre-empt what is coming.
I think resilience is an vital skill as is a heightened sense of emotional intelligence as most of the time a PA has a great deal of people management to undertake. Being proactive and adaptable to change with a flexible outlook aides most aspects of my role. I am highly organised and have good IT and social media skills. I am a strong communicator and extremely hard working.
Have you had to overcome any main challenges of obstacles in your career?
The biggest obstacle faced within a PA role is the misconception of the role itself and the role we play within an organisation. It is exceptionally difficult managing up within an organisational structure but more often than not it is an essential part of the day to day role. You have to find ways of managing teams of individuals with varying needs and have the ability to communicate to different audiences, which in turn supports them to deliver the best educational experience for students.
Another challenge that some of my fellow PAs have experienced is the lack of support with their development needs (I am supported in everything I do), often denied the opportunity to leave the organisation for one day to undertake good practice meetings and/or training opportunities within the academic year.
What social media networks do you use regularly?
Twitter and Facebook both in my private life and for the Academy I work for as I am responsible for whole school Public Relations and Marketing. I also use LinkedIn and YouTube as a resource for both professional development and establishing the Academy Alumni.
What top tip can you share with other PAs?
Be resilient with a can do attitude. It is your role and responsibility to ensure that you take all the stress away from the Leadership Team that you support, allowing them time and space to be strategic and run the organisation. I always get told that I am a breath of fresh air, when times are exceptionally challenging I am able to power through and offer support and help where it is needed the most.