Last year’s PA of the Year Awards saw us launch a brand new award category for the Office Manager of the Year, which, in the words of SecsintheCity Marketing Director and PA of the Year judge Sarah EL-Doori, was to “reflect the growing scope and professionalisation of another key back office support role.”
With nominations now open for the PA of the Year Awards 2020, we wanted to share this interview with Cat Mangan - the first ever Office Manager of the Year - in the hope it encourages you to nominate yourself or a colleague for the 2020 edition of our prestigious Awards.
What led you to become an Office Manager?
"Honestly I fell into it. I studied interior architecture at university and then ended up with a beauty salon for 7 years - it’s a long story. I moved from Ireland to California to London and dragged my way through managerial positions in retail to finally find Murphy Philipps, an architects company, where I felt I was the right person for this type of work."
"Now I believe this is what I should be doing, not necessarily do I need to be in the architectural industry due to my background - though it helps - but because I feel I’m good at this and I do really like it."
What’s great about your job at Murphy Philipps?
"The people first and foremost, coming from Ireland I feel like they are a second family. Also I work quite independently which I enjoy as I get to manage my own time and priorities."
In your PA of the Year nomination interview, you mentioned you’ve done a lot to develop wellbeing in the office. Could you tell us a bit more about this, and why you feel it’s important?
"Fostering employee wellbeing is good for our staff and the organisation. Promoting wellbeing can help prevent stress and create positive working environments where individuals and organisations can thrive. Murphy Philipps works in healthcare so I feel it’s best to support the staff. It is an uphill battle though as the views still set on mental health and why companies should help in this department are still not really supported. I try to push this as best I can."
"Cute fact: Recently I brought in The Cuddle Club to destress our office. So a bunch of adorable furry friends came running around us for an hour at lunch time and it honestly was the best to see the laughs and big smiles on the staff!"
What do you love about being an Office Manager?
"Helping people to solve problems whether they’re big or small! I wouldn’t be able to do a job that doesn’t help people – this makes it worthwhile."
Do you have any other interesting stories from your time as an Office Manager?
"Too many, from learning that bacon should not be cooked in the office to finding out why you must always remember to double check who you’re cc’ing into your emails!"
You received a huge 35 nominations – how did you find the application and interview process?
"Yes; 35 shocked me when I heard! Everything for me was 10 out of 10! I couldn’t fault anything with the entire process and the people I met along the way. I really enjoyed the interview even though I was nervous, it really was more of an informal chat."
Can you tell us about the night itself?
"It was very glamorous. Everyone was so friendly and it was just a really special night. I think all the nominees were just so happy to be there. From the venue, to the most amazing speeches made by the host about all the nominees, which is just something that doesn’t happen at awards! It really made it so personal."
How does it feel to be the first winner of the Office Manager of the Year Award?
"The best feeling! I’ve never even won a raffle ticket so this was such a huge shock – just an overall warm lovely feeling to know you’re doing well in your job – especially in a role that’s not so recognised."
How did your colleagues react, and have you seen any lasting effects from what was a tough award to win?
"All my colleagues were so lovely, I think they were delighted for me! I made sure they were involved the best I could by having some champagne at the office before the awards night."
"I have also been invited to complete a podcast with a Sky presenter about successful woman in business – which believe me I wasn’t expecting! I’m delighted with the opportunities that this award has given me so far."
It would be great if you could explain in your own words why office managers are an important part of the workplace.
"This is a very difficult question. I think the number one thing that makes a great office manager is a high degree of emotional intelligence. We deal with everyone in the company, and experience a lot of different emotions and attitudes – not everyone is right for this!"
"Often times when people request things, they don’t necessarily do it with as much respect as they should. But you have to take it in stride, stay composed, and be resilient. Those qualities are invaluable for a company to be successful – as we are all human at the end of the day."
What piece of advice would you give others for achieving success as an Office Manager?
"A very special friend once said to me “don’t sweat the small stuff” and as an Office Manager you are involved in all sorts so you have to try not to let it overwhelm you. I try to take that piece of advice with me to work and life. Also, keeping a sense of humour is a must!"
So, what are you waiting for? Click here to nominate yourself or a colleague today for the PA of the Year Awards 2020!