Success Stories: Sophie Curthoys, PA at Arsenal F.C.
How did you become an EA / PA?
I became a PA by complete accident. I was working part time at university as a PA for a nightclub promoter, I really enjoyed it as the work was so varied and fitted with my lifestyle at the time. After university I then decided to pick up another PA role working for the MD of an insurance company. The rest, as they say, is history!
What’s great about your job at Arsenal?
On interview, I realised that I would be working for two fantastic people. I work for Gary O’Driscoll (Club Doctor) and Gary Lewin (Head of Medical Services) we’re a great team and the work I do for them is varied and super interesting, I love a phone call in the morning from either of them that starts “You’re not going to believe this…” The other great thing about working here is that we’re lucky to have a great squad who are friendly, easy to deal with and just a pleasure to be around.
I have to ask… are you an Arsenal supporter / do you follow football yourself?
Along with “who’s your favourite player?” this is the question I get asked most! Before I worked here I had absolutely no idea about football. In my first week I mistook a member of the First Team for a member of the ground staff and had to learn who was who in the squad from the Arsenal website. Four years later, my weekends are now dominated by our fixture list and I count myself as an Arsenal supporter. I follow other football too and spent June last year at the Euros in France – it’s been a bit of a turnaround.
Do you have any stories about challenges you’ve faced in your role?
I probably can’t answer this without giving away out secrets! This might be a weak answer:
Aside from the normal challenges that you face in football (which is probably one of the most challenging environments you can work in) my biggest challenge every year is the Sports and Exercise Medicine conference we organise. It is now known to be one of the best Sports Med conferences in the UK / Europe and so we have to keep innovating and making improvements every year. Organising the best speakers to travel from around the world, the conference literature and booking arrangements for hundreds of delegates alongside organising my normal job which involves squad anti-doping requirements and player day-to-day maintenance is tough. The time around the conference gets a little crazy!
What’s your secret to being organised and juggling lots of priorities?
Super strong communication. My two bosses are very open about everything happening with the squad and so I always know what’s going on and where. We always plan ahead and always have a plan B as football changes so frequently due to fixture movement, player’s daily lives and training schedules. If we all know everything that is happening and what everyone’s roles are there will be no mistakes.
Is there a tool or app that you couldn’t live without?
Google Docs / Sheets spans both my work and personal life. It is so simple, so easy to use and yet is a game changer in terms of sharing documents, itineraries and making lists between multiple people. I used to use an App for sharing itineraries, an App for notes and lists, an app for group planning but actually Google Drive is so multi-functional that you can use it for everything.
How did you find the application (where applicable) and interview for PA of the Year?
My friend and colleague Zoe nominated me for PA of the Year so the first I knew of it was getting an email asking if I would be available for an interview, I was obviously completely delighted. The judges talked through my experience, my role and my skills as well as challenges I’ve faced at work and they provided me with an overall view of the awards and how everything worked. The interview with Sarah and Susanna was great, very informal and dare I say it… enjoyable!
Tell me about the night itself?
AThe evening was really lovely and so very well organised. The awards were held at The Ivy which is a gorgeous venue and they really looked after us. We were sat on a table with numerous other PAs and EAs as well as some of the team from Secs in the City which was great as most of us hadn’t met so it was lovely to chat and exchange stories. The PAs were all at the top of their game and worked for some amazing companies so it was great to speak to them about their roles and their plans for the future.
What piece of advice would you give others for achieving success as a PA or EA?
To give everything a go. It’s really important to have a diverse set of skills as a PA or EA so even if you aren’t sure how to do something – give it a go (however terrifying it might be), you’ll pick it up and have another string to your bow. It’s also so important to have a great contacts book who you regularly keep in contact with and say thank you when they help you out. It’s so simple but makes your day-to-day role so much easier.