And The Winner is: Introducing Inspiring PA Award Winner Kelly McAulay
Posted: 4th Mar 2016 | Share this Article:
Hot on the heels of the Oscars! It is currently film and TV awards season. Cornerstone42 felt it was only right to honour our talent in the PA and 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 Kelly McAulay, Scottish PA of the Year 2015, Executive Assistant at William Grant & Sons and Non-Executive Director EPAA UK.
Kelly is an award winning EA with a wealth of experience as both a Personal and Executive Assistant. A passionate advocate for the PA profession, she is currently an Ambassador for the Scottish PA Network and founder of Lanarkshire PA Network. Kelly has a mission to inspire other PA professionals to succeed through networking and continued professional development.
Tell us about your journey on becoming a PA?
The thought of being a PA never crossed my mind during my school years, being a lawyer was the only thing I ever wanted to be.
It was only after leaving school, accepting a place at university and taking a work experience placement in a law firm did I start to have a change of heart and begin to think that law wasn’t for me – from a criminal perspective I didn’t feel that I could be persuaded to defend criminals and commercial law was in reality far from the excitement of the court room, where I had originally seen myself. Consequently, I found myself having to come up with a Plan B.
My time at the law firm allowed me to become friendly with many of the PAs, two of whom I will be forever grateful for having met and worked with, and it was their passion, professionalism and enthusiasm that I warmed to and which inspired me. My natural skill set was also very well matched and I was genuinely interested in finding out more about this key role so becoming a PA became my Plan B. It was obvious that there was a lot to learn with a proper career path and growth potential. I was hugely excited about the opportunities so from there I enrolled myself on advanced Microsoft courses and learned t-line shorthand, after which I secured my first office job as a Team Assistant.
From the moment I secured my first office role I sought to build my skill-set and my career over the next 12 years moving from Team Assistant to Personal Assistant and eventually to Executive Assistant, my current role at William Grant & Sons Distillers, where I support 3 very busy Senior Executives – Chairman, Company Secretary and Group HR Director. My career has become my passion as I have grown, taking on different challenges and more responsibility as called for by the company and the industry. I am so glad I took that decision all those years ago and chose to go with my Plan B.
I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be – Douglas Adams
What are your main responsibilities?
My day to day job is hugely demanding with multiple Directors to support and being a family owned company I also have day-to-day responsibility and contact with all of our shareholders.
In addition to the usual diary management and core responsibilities of an Executive Assistant I manage various key projects, budgets and events within the business.
Tell us about this particular award and why you were nominated?
This was the inaugural Scottish PA of the Year award so it was a big deal to put myself out there in the first year. However I felt that I had been building up to this for a couple of years having completed my PA diploma, pro-actively networking locally, nationally and on social media, setting up networks myself – internally and externally and getting myself a mentor.
So, when I won the award it was humbling to hear that I was recognised because of my loyalty and passion to the profession, my proactive networking and for being a great brand ambassador for both my company and the PA profession.
Describe to us the process what did it entail?
The process was really simple. It was an online nomination form with a closing date. A month or so later I received an email to tell me I had been shortlisted as a finalist. I then had to have a telephone interview with all 4 members of the judging panel – I was so nervous!
After that a film crew came to my place of work to do a short snippet to be run at the awards ceremony, showing me in my office, answering the phone etc.
The awards ceremony took place a couple of weeks later and was part of the inaugural Scottish PA Conference, of which the awards took place right at the end. The Conference was amazing but I couldn’t really settle as I knew what was coming before I left there that day.
When the awards came round we were all invited onto the stage where the films that I mentioned were shown. The runner up was announced first, then the winner. It was truly an amazing experience.
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?
Of course! They were very supportive and some came along to the conference and awards with me that day to show their support.
And the winner is: talk us through those exciting moments when you heard your name being announced?
I can remember standing on the stage with the other 4 finalists. The stage was so bright and warm and such a sense of excitement in the room. The runner up was announced first and I was delighted as it was a fellow Glasgow PA. My stomach was churning as details of the winner started to be read out. I remember hearing my name but thinking back what happened next is a little fuzzy! I was presented with my trophy, some flowers and an amazing gift bag of goodies, then I had to say a few words – in true Oscar style! Then there were photographs.
Do you think winning this award has impacted on your career as a PA?
Yes, I think so. I have been given so many opportunities and have grabbed them all. I’ve featured in magazines, written articles and blogs, spoken at PA events all over the country, met many of my PA inspirations – became friends with some of them, and most recently been invited to sit on the National Advisory Board of EPAA (Executive & Personal Assistants Association). I’ve also been invited to judge two national PA awards this year and have been given the opportunity to share my story at the Scottish PA Conference in May.
What do you enjoy most about being a PA?
I enjoy that every day is different and that I have the scope daily to expand my knowledge and skill set. I enjoy the variety of tasks that I work on and the ability to impact in so many areas.
What is the most challenging aspect of your role?
Working for more than one person and managing conflicting priorities.
What gets you out of bed in the morning what motivates you?
I absolutely love my job, it’s something I’m passionate about. I work with a really great team in a fascinating industry – every day is a school day.
You really are a champion and a voice of the PA industry, what do you see that others perhaps do not?
The industry is changing – PAs are taking on more managerial responsibilities, they are up-skilling and getting qualifications and therefore expectations and demands will continue to rise. It’s not just about IT skills being the differentiator any more.
There are still pockets of resistance where managers don’t see the contribution and value that we add. We need to find our voice to change the perception and understanding of the role in order to obtain the equality and fair pay that we deserve.
The PA awards industry seems to be booming, what advice would you give to a fellow PA who is considering entering for an award
Go for it. Believe in yourself, there is nothing to lose. Life begins when you step out of your comfort zone.
How relevant is networking in our industry?
Hugely relevant. Building a network of people who understand the demands and pressures of our profession provides so much support and encouragement. Through sharing best practice we improve our contribution for greater success.
Networking also leads to greater confidence and you just never know when that next conversation may change your life.
What’s next for you?
The immediate future will see me focussing my energies on the mission and strategic objectives of EPAA, as part of the National Advisory Board – championing, promoting and developing the Assistant profession.
I am also committed to spending time fulfilling my other roles as Scottish PA Network Ambassador and building my Lanarkshire PA Network.
I’m looking forward to attending many of the local and national PA conferences and events taking place this year and to finding the new Scottish PA of the Year at the Awards in May.
Thank you Kelly!
Keep in touch and follow us: You can follow Kelly on twitter @xKellyMcAulayx and @LanarkshirePA.
Cornerstone42 is a boutique Executive Assistant Talent Match Agency launching 1st April 2016.
Founded by Executive Assistant Vivien Edwards further details at https://www.cornerstone42.com, email contact details: email@example.com and twitter: @cornerstone42_
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