Success Stories: Charlotte MacKenzie, EA to the CEO at Cath Kidston
How did you become an EA?
When I was at school and completing career questionnaires, one of the top results was always Personal Assistant, which fascinated me. After I moved to London I decided to do some temp work to get experience to see what I wanted to do and thought it was a great opportunity to find out if I enjoyed being a PA. I started out doing some reception/general admin work for a few assignments until one company wanted to take me on full time and gave me my first EA role, which was my big break. I haven’t looked back since!
What’s great about your job at Cath Kidston?
The minute I stepped foot into the Cath Kidston Head Office over four years ago, I knew I was going to love it! I like working here because of the friendly, family oriented atmosphere coupled with people who are extremely professional and driven. This is certainly the case for my boss, Kenny, who is an inspirational CEO to work for and who really leads by example. He motivates me to be the best I can be and I really enjoy working with him.
You recently moved roles to be EA to the CEO, how have your responsibilities changed?
I thought I knew a lot about the business in my previous role, however, when I was promoted to EA to the CEO, my knowledge and understanding reached a whole new level! I now sit in on the Operating Board meetings to take actions, which I thoroughly enjoy as it gives me a higher level of visibility across all functions of the business and I learn the background and rationale behind important decisions that are being made.
What’s your secret to being organised and juggling lots of priorities?
Lists, lists and more lists! I like to think I have a good memory but with the amount of information coming through to me throughout the day, I have to write every single thing down. I have a list for myself, a list for my boss and anything super urgent I write on a brightly coloured post-it note so I know that I have to get it done the same day. I also re-write and prioritise my lists at the end of the day and clear my desk of any clutter before I leave to make sure nothing has been forgotten.
Is there a tool or app that you couldn’t live without?
Outlook is the obvious one I couldn’t live without, I love it. The app for iPhone and iPad (called OWA) is also very useful for when you’re out and about as you can set it up to be able to view multiple calendars and inboxes, providing you with lots of flexibility if you are out of the office and you haven’t got access to your laptop.
The time zone and international dialling code converters on timeanddate.com are great tools for scheduling conference calls and meetings involving several different countries.
Personally and professionally I couldn’t live without Citymapper, I recently introduced it to my boss who now uses it all the time and especially likes that it tells you where to stand in the carriage and which exits to use. There is actually another app called Tube Exits which is better for this – can you tell I’m a bit of an app geek?
How did you find the application (where applicable) and interview for PA of the Year?
My former colleague and now friend (who’s job I was promoted to when she left the business), actually nominated me for the award and therefore I didn’t complete the application myself.
Tell me about the night itself?
I’d never been to The Ivy before so I was extremely excited to be invited to the awards dinner and the evening did not disappoint. The venue was absolutely stunning and the food was delicious. It was such a wonderful feeling to be surrounded by that many exceptional and admirable PA/EAs and I was bursting with pride!
Secs in the City and TAY did such a fantastic job of celebrating all aspects of our roles and made everyone feel valued and appreciated. I left with a smile on my face and an invigorated passion for my job, which has lasted long after the event…and of course my beautiful “finalist” plaque which I now have on display behind my desk!
How did your colleagues react and have you seen any everlasting effects from being shortlisted?
I didn’t really tell anyone about the awards before the event but when people see the plaque they always say “well done” or “not surprised, you deserve it” which is always lovely to hear. I’ve had quite a few messages about some great jobs on LinkedIn but I am very happy at Cath Kidston at the moment!
What piece of advice would you give others for achieving success as a PA or EA?
When I first started out in my career, my recruitment consultant at the time told me to “make yourself indispensable”, which I thought was great advice for a temp looking for a permanent role.
Remember you are an ambassador for your boss and the company you work for so always behave professionally. If you make a mistake, own up to it and make sure it never happens again rather than trying to cover it up. Your boss and colleagues will respect your honesty and transparency. Finally, be yourself and have fun with it, it is such a rewarding role!