PA of the Year Finalist Q&A | Claire Honess

Published on: 2 Sep 2019

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Claire Honess was one of our PA of the Year Award finalists in 2018.

Claire has an extensive career as a PA which spans a range of blue chip global brands, from technology to law and defence.

Claire worked at BAE Systems for over 11 years, progressing through a variety of PA to MD roles. Here, she had involvement in both direct support work, working for 2 directors and running a team of 4.

In her career, she has taken on PA work above and beyond the call of duty, including one of the most random tasks of all - sourcing 100 fresh chickens for microwave testing whilst at Panasonic.

The judges were impressed by Claire’s resilience and dedication in her role at BAE Systems, the breadth of experience she had to offer, and how passionately she cared about the personal development of her team.

In this interview, Claire talks about her career journey and her experience at the 2018 PA of the Year Awards.


How did you become an EA?

It was a gradual process over a number of years. I started my career at 16 as a travel agent and then moved into an office administration role in the Travel Agency. I held several customer facing managerial roles - i.e. Bakery Manager and Loan Shop Manager - finally getting back into an administration role whilst providing PA support to a Director of Panasonic. This followed with a number of PA roles for various executives, culminating in EA roles for several MDs in BAE Systems.

What’s great about your job at BAE Systems?

Over the past 11 and a half years, the Directors I have supported have changed every 2 to 3 years which has refreshed my role and the challenges I have faced. This has kept the role interesting and my length of service has enabled me to get more involved in activities that compliment my role. 


What’s your secret to being organised and juggling lots of priorities?

For me it comes naturally because I am a little OCD and a control freak! Everyone needs to find what works for them but I like lists and get a kick out of planning and problem solving.


The judges were impressed by your resilience and dedication to the business and praised the breath of experience you bring to your role. How long have you been working at BAE Systems? Can you tell us more?

I’ve worked for BAE Systems for 11 and a half years. The first six as the MD’s PA, alongside supporting two functional directors. I was then offered a 12-month secondment opportunity to the Strategy function when I was tasked with researching the viability of a number of new revenue streams for the business, which resulted in developing business cases and project managing bids for new work.

Following a maternity break, I returned to set up and manage a PA Hub (consisting of 4 PAs to Directors), whilst providing PA support to an additional two functional directors. I have delivered the task of recruiting and training 4 new PAs who are now delivering the required standard of service to the Directors. I’m at a point where I feel that the Directors support is in a steady sate and it is time for me to move on to the next challenge in my career.


How did you find the application and interview process for PA of the Year?

I found the application very straight forward and the interview process both relaxed and enjoyable.


Tell me about the night itself?

It was a lovely relaxed evening, with just the right mix of socialising and awards.  The venue felt special and I was honoured to have been a finalist.


What piece of advice would you give others for achieving success as a PA or EA?

I would encourage them to keep looking for ways to improve the service they provide to their directors; to never shy away from a challenge and constantly push themselves out of their comfort zone to take on new and interesting tasks.



With just under weeks to go until the deadline for PA of the Year Award nominations close, make sure to submit a nomination soon to avoid missing out! 

Click the button below to nominate yourself or a colleague: 

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