Take 5 minutes to sit down with your favourite hot drink for a chat with Zoe Hill…
With over 12 years of experience as an Executive Assistant and 8 years in Management, predominantly in the finance industry, I have gained a wealth of knowledge that I hope over time I can share with so many other admin professionals.
Leaving school at 15 with less than adequate GCSEs left me unsure about my next steps. However, I now recognize that this is part of my personal journey. If we are being honest here, when I was asked at 7 years old about my future aspirations, I am rather certain that I didn’t mention becoming an assistant.
At the age of 21, I took on the EA position as a means to explore different career options – giving me a ‘bird’s eye’ view of the organisation I was joining. Despite some challenging obstacles along the way, I realized that this was my true calling and where I was meant to be all along. I have no regrets and thoroughly enjoy the work, the tasks and the people I work alongside. The job is incredibly gratifying and rewarding.
Tell us about your current role?
I have recently transitioned to a new role as Chief of Staff at Arcade Media, which has been a major shift from my previous experience in the finance industry. The adjustment to a new work environment, colleagues, and responsibilities has been both exciting and challenging.
While I was initially a little hesitant about making such a significant change in my career, it didn’t take me long to realise that it was an opportunity to explore new avenues, expand my skillset, and broaden my professional network. As Chief of Staff, I have been given a unique vantage point to oversee various aspects of the company’s operations.
It has been an enriching experience working with different departments and executives within the company, collaborating with them to help drive key initiatives forward. The role has allowed me to leverage my previous experience in management and as an executive assistance, while also providing me with new learning opportunities and challenges. I am excited to contribute to the growth and success of Arcade Media and to be a part of a dynamic team that is constantly pushing boundaries and innovating.
Describe yourself in 5 words?
So I decided it would be fun (and perhaps a little risky) to reach out to the people in my life who are the most important to me as they know me better than I know myself, and for them to describe me in their own words. Let’s just say that they did not disappoint.
I’ve picked out 5 things that seemed to crop up the most and share these with you.
Loyal, Independent, Passionate, Fierce, Generous
Tell us about your first Strategic PA Network experience? Can you remember your first event?
I met Sarah and Marianne for coffee as an introduction which led to being one of their panellists at The PA Show for a discussion around the strategic shift from Executive Assistant to Chief of Staff role. It was an amazing topic to be spoken about and I was utterly honoured to be a part of this.
It’s been incredible to get to know Sarah and Marianne. I love their passion for the admin professional world, and I feel completely energised following on from any interaction with them. I also strongly encourage anyone to reach out and be part of this amazing group.
Why are you passionate about the Assistant / Business Support profession?
The EA role has come a long way and there is such a better understanding of the value add that the admin professional world has for any business. The role itself is varied and, for myself anyway, there has never been two days that have been the same.
You are always kept on your toes, never knowing what you are going to walk into that morning and what you may need to deal with throughout the day.
I guess, above all, in this role it makes me feel needed. I am that person that is called to fix the problem. I am that person that is called when a question needs an answer. It provides me with a professional purpose to get up each day.
What has been one of the greatest challenges you have faced and how have you dealt with the challenge?
Change, which let’s be honest in the admin professional world you should not be afraid of nor should you deem it to be a challenge – but I am only human and we should talk about it. I can be a very particular person and like things to be done in a certain fashion and in my early years when things didn’t quite go to plan or the way I wanted them to I found this hugely frustrating.
So when I began to recognise this as a problem and a challenge I completed a Change Management course online and it helped me to understand what is known as the “emotional change curve”. If you google this there are so many different formats. Looking at the emotions written down in black and white helped me to understand and navigate the change and handle it in the most effective manner causing less stress and anxiety to myself, not to mention to the business.
How important is networking to you? Do you enjoy it?
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” networking is crucial to building a successful career and should be a top priority for any professional.
In the past, when I have hired new employees, they often ask me what their main priority should be for their first initial week in the job. My answer is always the same – network.
Once connections have been established, it is super important to maintain them. This means regularly checking in with people, providing value where possible, and keeping communication lines open. Effective networking requires ongoing effort and attention.
Personally, I find networking to be an enjoyable and essential part of my job. By connecting with new people, I am not only able to develop my own skills and knowledge, but also contribute to the overall efficiency and success of the business.
For those who may be hesitant about networking, I understand that it can be intimidating at first. However, building confidence in this area is a natural progression that comes with time and practice. Taking that first step to reach out and make connections can be a game changer, breaking down barriers and opening up new opportunities.
What one piece of advice would you give to a CEO working with an EA for the first time? Or someone who needs educating?
Communication and partnership is everything and works both ways. Your assistant is only as good as the information you are sharing. Your assistant’s main duty is also discretion so trust him or her with any key information as this will have a huge beneficial impact on the outcome of tasks.
Secondly, a simple ‘Thank You’ goes a really long way. You will find the more you appreciate your assistant and show that you are grateful the more your assistant will go above and beyond their call of duty.
Personally for me, even the smallest amount of gratitude goes such a long way and helps me build a better relationship with them.
What are you currently reading? Would you recommend it and why?
Chief of Staff by Tyler Parris
This book has been written in a way to help employers looking to hire a Chief of Staff to have an understanding on how to best utilise someone in that role. However, I have found this book to be highly beneficial for myself as it clearly outlines some great areas where a CoS can add true value in this role.
What is your favourite saying or quote and who is it by?
I have two, and it’s so hard to choose between them that I thought I would share both as I live by them word for word.
Always expect the unexpected – this is something that my father has always told me and I believe that it can resonate with all aspects of your life, personally and professionally. You can never know what is truly around the corner and what you might come up against but you can be somewhat mentally prepared for what is yet to come with a calm and focused approach.
There are no mistakes in life just lessons – I believe this is widely used by many authors and I firmly believe in it. If you take the time to learn from the mistake, then it can no longer be deemed as a mistake but merely a lesson that you can grow from.
Thank you so much for your time Zoe, for those who’d like to connect with Zoe – please do! Her LinkedIn details are HERE.