Interview with Sheila Lyburn: winner of PA of the Year

Published on: 30 Nov 2015

Sheila LyburnSheila Lyburn, PA to the CEO at Peter Vardy Limited


What does winning PA of the Year mean to you?

Personally, winning this award is a true honour.  It’s a great validation of what I have achieved to date and it's recognition that I am on the right path.  Each day, I put my heart and soul into my job at Peter Vardy Limited and to know that I have been rewarded by those outside of the company truly means the world to me.  Hopefully, winning this award will allow me to connect with more people within the industry; whilst helping to promote the profile and role of the modern day PA in the process.

How do you think the PA role has evolved since you started your career?

The modern day PA is a multitasking master of everything.  Gone are the days when filing papers, answering telephones and scheduling meetings comprised the bulk of our daily routine. Today, our role encompasses so much more.  With rapid changes in technology, business and globalisation, our job descriptions and titles are evolving almost as quickly.  Advanced skills are required to assist with increased responsibilities, day-to-day demands and the need to promote a professional image in order to support and stand in for the key decision makers within the company we work for.  We need to ensure that we have the skills and the talent to match the evolving needs of our bosses and organisation.  Goodbye Miss Moneypenny…Hello Pepper Potts!

What challenges have your overcome in your career?

In any position of employment, there will be challenges that you have to overcome and that’s all part of having a job.  Peter Vardy Limited is a family run business and the co-ordination and handling of complex family relationships and dynamics can be tricky at times.  In a family dynamic involving multiple business units, characters, weddings, house moves, rapid business growth, business trips, charitable foundations and much more, it’s essential to keep all those involved up to date, stress free and still speaking with one another!  During the last 5 years, I have achieved this by being pro-active and well organised, communicating effectively and remaining calm with a positive mind set.

What has been your proudest achievement in your career?

There have been many highlights throughout my career but I would have to say that being awarded the SecsintheCity PA of the Year 2015 is my proudest achievement.  Winning this is the ultimate accolade for any PA; it is a valuable addition to my CV and will hopefully raise my profile across the profession. I was delighted when my boss, Peter Vardy, announced that he wanted to put me forward for the award as a result of my dedication, enthusiasm and commitment to my role.  Receiving recognition from others out with the company for my hard work, makes me feel extremely honoured.

What would you say to PAs who are thinking of entering the 2016 Awards?

PAs don’t always get the recognition they deserve as much of their work is unseen and unheralded.  It is fantastic that these awards showcase our talents and I would strongly advise any PA to put themselves forward when this comes around again next year.  Throughout the process, I have met so many wonderful and talented people and the overall experience of taking part has been one of the best of my life to date.  I would encourage others to have confidence in their own abilities and remember that in life we shouldn’t worry about failures, we should worry about the chances that we miss when we don’t even try.

As our PA of the Year 2015, what top tips can you share with other PAs?

  1. Aim to be your boss's "right arm."  Your goal is to become indispensable. It's in a PA's best interest to learn as much as possible about his or her boss's likes, dislikes and personal preferences.  Don’t be shy to ask colleagues, family and friends for specific details in relation to these.  Observe general behaviour and create a profile of the person in your mind.  This will assist you in making daily decisions for yourself and on your boss’s behalf.  It will allow you to take care of things without having to ask questions.
  1. It’s essential to be organised.  PAs juggle a million and one tasks and face demanding deadlines and it can get stressful at times.  Implement organisational structures and ensure that you follow them.  Use check lists to prioritise your workload and tick off each point once complete. 
  1. In life, always try to “WOW” people wherever you go.  It doesn’t matter who it is or what it’s regarding, ensure that you deliver a superior result with an added splash of magic.  Go that extra mile to make something ordinary be extraordinary. 
  1. PAs manage and source resources and conduct research, so it’s vital to be well informed and internet savvy. It is also important to keep up-to-date with the latest office gadgets and industry best practices.  Therefore, PA training courses are invaluable in maintaining PA continuous professional development in this ever changing world.
  1. Don’t Lose Yourself.  Many PA’s get so caught up in managing their boss that they can forget about their own goals and aspirations.  It is essential to make time for yourself whether that be going to the gym, watching a movie or meeting up with friends and family.