And The Winner is: Introducing Inspiring PA Award Winner Karen Glenn
Posted: 4th Mar 2016 | Share this Article:
It is currently the film (Oscars) and TV awards (Baftas, Emmys) season Cornerstone42 felt it was only right to honour our own talent in the PA & EA profession.
This is a great opportunity to read and learn from former PA award winners about their PA journeys past, present and future and the defining moment when they decided to enter for ‘that’ award.
I am delighted to introduce Karen Glenn, PA to Chief Procurement Officer at Britvic and the current Excecutive Magazine PA Award winner for Best Organised Event 2015.
An award winning PA with over 8 years’ experience, extremely passionate and ambitious, who champions the role as a truly fantastic career choice. It is a career that Karen enjoys and has turned it into an opportunity to be among the best in her field. Along with being a winner of the Executive PA Magazine Best Organised Event Award in 2015, Karen has also been recognised as a finalist in the following awards:
- Finalist in We Are the City Rising Star PA/EAs 2015
- Finalist with Pitman Super Achiever PA of the Year 2015
- Finalist with Executive PA Magazine for Best Organised Event 2014
- Shortlisted with Executive PA Magazine for PA of the Year 2014
Karen is a Fellows member of the Institute of Administration Management and more recently has being accepted as a Fellows member with EPPA. Providing blogs for The Proud Assistant (@Eventopedia_PA) on twitter, and writing an article for Executive PA Magazine, due to be published shortly. Karen has also been invited to speak at the Assist Conference on 26th February and most recently being invited to become a Brand Ambassador for AEPAS (Association of Extraordinary PAs).
Tell us about your journey on becoming a PA?
Back in the day when I left school there wasn’t the same careers advice as there is today, only a few ended up going to University. I went straight into the world of work. I had mostly office roles ranging from working in accounts, working in IT along with other roles outside of the office environment. I fell into the PA role in 2000 as a PA to an HR Director. I was in that role for 3 years but due to a company merger that role became redundant. That is when I moved into an IT support role where I stayed for 5 years with redundancy hitting me again. So I then moved back into a PA role in 2008 and that is where the PA journey resumed and where I am today.
What are your main responsibilities?
I have the usual PA responsibilities which include, diary management, inbox management, travel management, event management, working on projects either leading or as a core team member, preparing presentations, sitting in key meetings to take the actions, conducting research for the executive, along with ad-hoc personal support, the list goes on but these are just a few.
Tell us about this particular award and why you were nominated?
This award is run by Executive PA Magazine each year. I was nominated for an event that I ran in August 2015, it was a team event with around 52 people attending (from UK, France and Ireland). The event was a mixture of updating the team with important business information, working in teams on breakout sessions. I also had an external provider run an energiser session for after lunch (as having senior managers run that session just wasn’t going to be dynamic enough on this occasion), through to celebrating team and individual achievements, closing with a drinks reception and summer BBQ. I didn’t want people standing around talking about work during the evening so I sourced various lawn games, photo booth and background music There was a very small budget that I had to work with and the majority of that was taken up with the cost of the venue, as I wanted it to somewhere with the “wow factor”, I had to be creative with the evening fun rather than bring in an external provider to organise.
Describe to us the process what did it entail?
It is online submission where you provide details of the event you run along with some other questions that are asked. They produce a shortlist of around 5 finalists who are then invited to an awards evening in London. During the evening they announce 2 runners up and an overall winner of the category. I was encouraged by my boss to enter as time was running out I had to pull my submission together very quickly. There was a serious of questions some of which had a limited amount of word count so I had to ensure that the entry was detailed but concise.
Did you tell anyone you had entered, in particular any of your work colleagues, what was their reaction? – If your answer is no, why not?
I did, as my boss had encouraged me to enter I told her that I had entered the award. She was so supportive of my submission and was convinced that it was my year to shine. She then made sure the rest of the team knew that I had entered the award, all were just as supportive and encouraging to me as she was.
And the winner is: talk us through those exciting moments when you heard your name being announced?
I was not expecting my name to be called out at all, so when it was it did take a few seconds for it to register that it was me that had been announced. My walk to the stage took a while as I was sat right at the back of the room so there was lots of weaving in and out of tables to get there – it felt like an eternity. It was an emotional moment for me once I had picked up my award as only 3 weeks earlier my lovely mum had passed away. Mum knew that I was a finalist, I know that she had every confidence in me and would have been overjoyed with me winning the award.
Do you think winning this award has impacted on your career as a PA?
Totally, since winning the award I have had an invite from Proud Assistant to write a couple of blogs for them. I have been invited to speak at the Assist Conference on 26th February in London, and have accepted an invitation to be a Brand Ambassador for a AEPAS which is an association for PAs/EAs who aspire to achieve their own goals, aspirations and to stand out as an “Ultimate Assistant”
What do you enjoy most about being a PA?
I enjoy the variety that comes with the role. The role enables you to be at the heart of an organisation. We are working with leaders and have a key role to play in supporting business decisions. We are encouraged and trusted to create and implement new ways of working efficiently to improve processes and contribute to the goals of the businesses we work within.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
The initial challenge for me when starting in my role was learning about the executive you are working for, their work styles, your working relationship, if you put the effort in at the start you will soon start to see the benefits and become trusted and a respected advisor to the executive.
What gets you out of bed in the morning what motivates you?
What motivates me is the variety in my role. I believe I am making a difference to the executive which enables them to efficiently deliver their objectives for the business. We spend around 35% of our waking hours at work over a 50 year working life so it is important to me that I am doing a role that I enjoy and want to get out of bed for.
You really are a champion and a voice for the PA industry, what do you see that others perhaps do not?
I have seen that PAs/EAs are on the start of an exciting journey for our career choice to be recognised, respected and valued. I am passionate about the role and want to see us move away from the stereotypical “secretary branding” to being a true “Business Partner” to the executives. We bring so much to the business, some of them do recognise our value to them but sadly there are others who still do not. I am starting to see small green shoots of change for the industry, I am hopeful that those will continue to grow and grow so we can all stand tall and strong together as a recognised industry and a great career choice for all.
The PA awards industry seems to be booming, what advice would
you give to a fellow PA who is considering entering for an award?
There are so many to choose from, so it is worth spending time researching them to see what category fits you best. Don’t be afraid to nominate yourself, whilst it is fantastic to be nominated by a colleague, remember that only you really know what you have achieved. You may feel uncomfortable “boasting” about your abilities, but who else is better to do it than you. It is refreshing to remember all the positive achievements you have achieved when you start working on your entry. I would suggest pulling your entry together offline first, be mindful that there could be a word limit for your entry, so ensure your entry is detailed and concise whilst sticking to that. Believe in yourself and your abilities, you need to inspire the judges with your entry and make it stand out from the others. Importantly, make sure you have submitted your entry before the nomination closing date. Once you have pressed submit, relax and put your submission out of your mind. Who knows what will happen, you may surprise yourself with the outcome, but don’t be put of entering awards in the future, remember the quote from William Edward Hickson “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”
How relevant is networking in our industry?
I think it is extremely important for PAs to network, you can learn so much from other PAs from other industries. It is a way to learn from others and enables those just starting out in their careers to learn from more experienced PAs/EAs or even find a mentor who may be able to give you guidance on something you have been asked to do which is new to you. You may even further your career, you could have a conversation with someone and happen to find out that they have a role coming up which could be your dream role. It may seem a little scary going along to your first event on your own but look for a friendly face and they will make some intros to others for you – your wont regret it.
What’s next for you?
As mentioned earlier since winning my award I have been asked to write a couple of blogs for The Proud Assistant on twitter, the first published at the end of Dec 2015 and the most recent the end of Feb 2016. Blogs are something that I had never done before but I have found that I enjoyed doing, so I would like to do some more blogs in the future. Also speaking at the Assist Conference at the end of Feb, it’s my first slot speaking at a conference, so who know where that may lead. Plus being a Brand Ambassador for AEPAS “Association of Extraordinary PAs”, it’s a new association for PAs/EAs who want to achieve their own goals and aspirations. It will enable me to continue with promoting the industry of it being a great career choice and changing perceptions of the value that PAs/EAs have within organisations. I plan to continue to grow as an assistant and would like to take on some line management which will enable me to mentor and coach other PAs as they start on their PA career journey.
Thank you Karen!
Please look out for our next interview with Jennifer Corcoran, winner of the London PA Networking Award 2015, coming soon.
Follow Karen on Twitter @ksmglenn: Linkedin: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/karenglenn
Cornerstone42 is a boutique Executive Assistant Talent Match Agency launching 1st April 2016, founded by Executive Assistant Vivien Edwards further details at www.cornerstone42.com, email contact details: email@example.com and
Twitter for latest news follow me @cornerstone42_
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