Like a Boss: An interview with The PA Way founder Skevi Constantinou
Quite literally dreamt up back in 2018 by Skevi Constantinou, The PA Way is a networking and lifestyle platform for Assistants like no other. We were lucky enough to speak with Skevi to find out how she’s tackled 2020 and what lies in store for the new year.
Hi, Skevi! Thanks for taking part in an interview for the SecsintheCity blog - it’s great to have you here. Could you start off by telling us a little bit about your career to date?
“Thank you so much for having me! I originally trained as a chef for three years when I left school as my all-time hero is Michel Roux Jr. Shortly after qualifying, I had an accident which tore my shoulder and it was game over. I was advised to get an office job as I would not be able to cope in the kitchens. I was addicted to the adrenaline and multi-tasking so I wanted to explore a role that had these components. I was set to be an Executive Assistant.”
“I trained in administration and worked my way up to Executive Assistant, dealing with high powered C-Suite individuals. I absolutely love being an EA and used a lot of my chef skills in this new role. Even food ordering was a breeze!”
You established The PA Way in 2018. For the uninitiated Assistants in our audience, could you explain what The PA Way is and what you do to benefit the lives of Assistants?
“The PA Way was founded in February 2018 as I woke up one morning and saw the concept in my dream. I was so excited by it and then when I tried to Google it, I realised it did not exist. It was at that point that I knew I had to create it.”
“The PA Way is a very ‘not by the book’ inspirational and empowering platform for those in the Assistant and Admin support role. Members are called Loyal Royals and it is about taking your seat as the CEO because Assistants are the boss to the boss. My goal is to raise awareness for my industry, raising the voices of assistants and making them step out of their bosses’ shadow and own their own light!”
“The PA Way is not generic. The ‘community’ is called The Squad. We disrupt. We level up. We make waves in what I feel is an industry where there is very little reward or recognition.”
“What started out as a few networking events in Birmingham (where I live) on top of a full time EA role, has now seen me grow into an international membership, being booked to speak for companies and I will be rolling out my coaching in 2021.”
“I hung up my corporate clipboard in 2019 and have not looked back since!”
What inspired you to start your own networking and lifestyle platform for Assistants?
“When I had that dream in February 2018, I was already very much dedicated to my industry, learning and development. When I saw the concept of The PA Way, at first I saw it as a dream that I had. Two years on, I realise that dream was a message. The message to inspire change to a profession where the people are so hard working, dedicated and committed to helping the every day lives of others, but they themselves are often overlooked.”
“I want use my time and skill set to change this mindset of you are ‘just’ an assistant. No one is ‘just’ anything.”
“Every assistant is a cog in the machine that helps things to move efficiently. If anything, Assistants are the ones who will book the time in the diary and order that cog in the first place!”
“My entire career will be dedicated to my profession. I know my purpose and I will do what I can to inspire change.”
The PA Way puts an emphasis on learning, development and career coaching. Why is continued professional development so important for Assistants?
“Professional development is really important because you need to continue to level up. If you are already really good at something, that’s amazing, but see if you can upgrade yourself even more. The quest for learning should never stop. Your knowledge will be a continued resource. You may be asked questions on a certain topic and find that because of your continued investment in yourself, that you know the answers. For example, I was in a meeting once with some very high-powered EAs when I was at admin level. They were debating about the food for an event for their Executives. I was too shy at that point in my career to speak.”
“They then went on to discuss the menu and they couldn’t understand the French items and what ingredients were in each dish. So, I quietly piped up “it means they are sautéed in butter.””
“They all looked at me and said, “how on earth do you know?” and I ended up telling them the whole menu and was then handed over all the food tasks.”
“Just because you have a skill set in something, doesn’t mean you can't transfer this over. Learning and investing in yourself is the greatest gift because you will become a higher version of yourself and create a life that you want in abundance. Mindset is everything.”
How have you - and The PA Way - adapted to the unexpected twists and turns of 2020?
“Well after sulking and eating MANY carbohydrates and then being judged my scales, I decided to get a grip. I could spend the time sulking about the fact I had spent an entire year planning amazing events and they got cancelled OR I could practice what I preach and level up!”
“So, I did.”
“I put all my events online, grew my membership even more and had all this time to strategise which I never would have had before. I actually saw the positive from the whole experience (I am wired to see the good!) and have really enjoyed this process as I have come out of it way stronger than I ever thought I was. It has been challenging for sure but the things I have coming out next year, is a result of using my situation for the better. All very exciting launches!”
What are the main challenges you’ve faced in your career, either from your time as an EA or since setting up The PA Way?
“Bullying. Without a shadow of a doubt. I campaign against bullying because it needs to stop. I have been bullied throughout my career and mainly by women. Women who sabotage other women. I believe in lifting your fellow woman and supporting her goals, so this was really hard for me to deal with because I am not wired this way. I only want people to succeed.”
“The world is laced with such negativity and I actively encourage kindness. I was bullied for how I worked, for being too kind, for being too happy, then for being too sad.”
“You were damned if you do, damned if you don’t. In the end, I decided to just keep being myself as I need to remain true to who I am, and kindness will always prevail.”
What do you consider to be the three most important attributes of a successful Assistant?
“Honesty, loyalty and work ethic. Without honesty, you will not be trusted in the role and your Executive won’t believe a word you say or seek your opinion. Loyalty because you need to show you are committed and won’t be jumping ship every month when things get tough and finally to have a decent work ethic. Show up, rock up and give it your best every day because that is when you will level up.”
You’re very active on LinkedIn and you’ve got lots of engaged followers. What advice would you give to members of our audience who are looking to up their game on social media?
“Thank you, that is very kind. I am self-taught and just remain myself and authentic. I strongly encourage Assistants to have a great profile because you are your own brand. I actually offer training for this called Level Up LinkedIn!”
“I have trained many assistants and their profiles and engagement go through the roof. You can book this via The PA Way website.”
Check out Skevi's LinkedIn activity here.
How do you anticipate the role of the Assistant changing in the coming year?
“Technology will obviously have a huge impact on the day to day running of the role, but I do think it will go from strength to strength. More Assistants will be promoted to Chief of Staff roles and Admin level support will gain more investment to carry out even more tasks.”
“I think my industry is very exciting!”
What does The PA Way have in store for 2021?
“Definitely not sleep! I am launching many things in 2021 but I am also so excited to launch my coaching programme called The CEO to your Glow which is about owning your life and taking control so that you can continue to grow and glow as the best person you can be.”
“I stopped sleeping properly in 2018 when I created The PA Way because I work on my own and I am always in a creative mindset, so I am super excited about what is to come!”
Finally, what advice would you give to any aspiring Assistants out there?
“Research the role. Do your homework. If you can multitask and love organising, then you are ready! The industry is amazing and is very self-rewarding because ultimately, without you, that office cannot function. You are the office celebrity as I say!”
Thank you, Skevi!
About Skevi and The PA Way
Skevi Constantinou is an EA with a wealth of experience across various sectors, predominately Corporate Finance. She is a huge advocate for the for the industry, evoking change by encouraging assistants to be heard as one voice. Having created and launched the popular assistant lifestyle platform, The PA Way, Skevi’s mission is to ensure that assistants and admin professionals are valued, nurtured and listened to – by staging events and learning to enable them to “live like a boss!” Skevi’s aim is to take assistants out of their bosses’ shadow and to own their own light. With a goal of ensuring that assistants become so powerful, that people do not know who the boss is, The PA Way is a fresh, fun and informative platform to allow assistants to “level up” by learning, development and events. Skevi truly understands that it’s time to put assistants and admin professionals in the limelight and to ensure that it is our time to shine. The PA Way is about inspiring, empowering and motivating you to be the best you can be, not only as the Rockstar Assistant but as the Glow-Getter who shines!
Visit The PA Way website today to find out more.