Sue Fletcher, the winner of the SecsintheCity Outstanding Achievement Award 2016, is a PA in the Department of Health. Sue won the award for her amazing story of dedication to her boss and for her consistent contribution despite significant challenges in her personal life. In this interview, we asked Sue to tell us about her role and reflect on the experience of entering PA of the Year.
How did you become a PA?
I worked for a very disorganised manager who was repeatedly missing deadlines, never in the right place at the right time and could never be found when needed. I took it upon myself to suggest he needed a PA and I have never looked back.
What do you love about being a PA?
I love organising things. I love the interaction I have with people at all levels and building long and lasting relationships. I get immense satisfaction from planning a day without any hiccups and having the ability to foresee all requirements before I am asked to do something.
What’s great about your job at the Department of Health?
My PA role in the Department of Health is like no other PA role. I support a blind Director and his Guide Dog. I have travelled everywhere with him from London to New Delhi. I have to be his eyes wherever we go and this includes: introducing him to Ministers and CEOs; advising him who may be in a room with him or who he is sat next to in meetings; getting him to every meeting on time with meticulous planning (allowing for every unknown whilst travelling between offices). It doesn’t stop once we leave the office – we often work away so I have to book hotels and explain hotel room layouts so he can manoeuvre around the room safely. I source local restaurants where we can go and eat. This also brings the unwanted task of having to challenge establishments that refuse us access because of the guide dog!
How did you find the application and interview for PA of the Year?
I have to admit that I actually nominated myself after drinking rather a lot of Prosecco and feeling very down with life following the death of my son. I remember seeing an advertisement pop up on LinkedIn asking “Are you, or do you know a PA who deserves recognition?” and I thought “hell – yes I do!”. I wrote my application there and then, didn’t even keep a copy so I have no idea what I wrote. I forgot all about it until I received an email to say I had made the shortlist!
I didn’t for one minute ever imagine that I would be a finalist and was really overwhelmed to be shortlisted. The judging panel were wonderful though and I think quite taken aback at the stories I had of how often I go above and beyond the call of duty.
Tell me about the night itself?
The awards were absolutely fantastic. The Ivy is a place I’ve always dreamed of going but never had the chance. My boss and dog were invited and it was so refreshing that he was welcomed as warmly as I was. It was inspiring to be with so many talented PAs from major private companies and have the chance to mingle and talk to so many on the evening. I’ve kept many on as friends now through LinkedIn and Facebook.
What impact has winning had on you and your career?
At a time when I was questioning my future, as my boss was made redundant, just being able to add “Winner of the Outstanding Achievement Award” to my CV opened doors to interviews. Winning was such a morale boosting experience and certainly raised my profile across the whole department.
Would you recommend entering PA of the Year to others?
Absolutely! The PA profession is something to be extremely proud of and can be so undervalued at times. Just making it into the final was a huge confidence boost for me but coming away with an award was completely life-changing.