Elisabeth Vinton, current EA to the CEO of the Poppy Factory, was one of the highly impressive 2018 finalists for the PA of the Year Award. Following a career in travel and events, Elisabeth moved into a PA role in Financial Services before finding her calling as a PA in the charity sector.
Elisabeth was nominated for the award by the Poppy Factory CEO, who praised her ‘exceptional organisational skills, expert stakeholder handling, with very high-profile events and attendees, and frequent royal involvement.’
As a fiercely organised, adaptable and committed Executive Assistant, it was this dedication that landed Elisabeth a finalist position at the 2018 PA of the Year Awards.
Find out more about Elisabeth’s career and her experience at the PA of the Year Awards ceremony in this interview:
How did you become an EA?
I started as an Administration Officer for a small local charity for Deaf and Hard of Hearing people in Kent. I then built experience in events management, administration and PA work in the finance industry in London. I wanted to move back into the charity sector as I love helping people and it is always interesting and varied!
What’s great about your job at The Poppy Factory?
Definitely the fact that I get to work closely with some of the veterans that we support, as well as being able to get stuck into all areas of the organisation. I am really proud to work here. Working with the CEO means I get a unique insight into all the working parts of the organisation. I also love the fact I can utilise my skills from my previous jobs, including sign language, events management and the experience to pull together our annual accounts.
What’s your secret to being organised and juggling lots of priorities?
Keep a to-do list and don’t expect to ever complete it! I split mine up into the various areas and make sure that our CEO and her needs are catered to first. There will always be something that will need to take top priority. It is usually beyond your control, so roll with it!
You left a lasting impression on our judges, praised for always delivering in fast paced, diverse and challenging working environments and for having exceptional organisation skills. What does a normal working day look like for you?
Obviously a very tricky question, but generally, mornings are dedicated to meeting bookings for the CEO or Executive team and any filing/minutes writing/printing/meeting room preparations. On Tuesday mornings I also interpret at the production team meeting for a deaf colleague. Of course, while the production team has breakfast very often colleagues will come in for a chat. If there is a lunch for a VIP group, I will collect sandwiches and plate them up from our lovely local bakery and get our leaky old coffee machine chugging away! There is usually one of our big events to organise (there are three that I take the lead on, as well as organising council meetings and the associated subcommittees).
How did you find the application and interview process for PA of the Year?
The application process was very easy, and the interview process was incredibly friendly. Susannah and Sarah were really lovely and approachable; they obviously know how to put people at ease. It is quite a confidence boost to be able to talk about your achievements in that way.
Tell me about the night itself.
It was wonderful! It was lovely to be treated to a great meal in a restaurant I would not normally go to, and so interesting to see the variety of work that a PA can cover. Everyone there was lovely, and I felt very proud to be there amid some very large, high profile organisations. We are quite a small organisation by comparison! I sat next to Craig (who won Social Media PA of the Year), so we had a good chat about working in the charity sector.
How did your colleagues react?
I had seen a lot of them beforehand as we had our opening ceremony for the Field of Remembrance that day (I managed to get a good view of HRH Duke of Sussex!). They were all really supportive which made me feel very appreciated. My finalist certificate is sitting proudly on the shelf!
What piece of advice would you give others for achieving success as a PA or EA?
It takes time! Don’t expect to get high end, senior roles without the experience. Every time I have changed jobs there has been a huge learning curve. Also, take up any opportunity to learn, you never know where unique skills will come in handy, even if they don’t seem relevant in your current role.
It’s not always about the winning - being shortlisted for the PA of the Year Awards is a fantastic achievement in itself, and a valuable career accolade for any hardworking PA or EA.
The finalists and winners will be announced at the awards ceremony at the Ivy on Thursday 7th November.
If you or someone you know is a dedicated PA, EA or Office Manager, why not submit a nomination today?