Katie Clifford is PA to Jacqueline Gold, CEO of Ann Summers Ltd and has been in this role for 4 ½ years. Before working for Jacqueline, Katie had quite a colourful career in television and film working on a number of productions including Waking the Dead, the Diary of Anne Frank and the box office smash, Run Fat Boy Run. Katie is part of the judging panel for this year’s Executive PA Magazine/Hays Awards.
"The Art of Lurking" ......
Have you ever found yourself hovering anxiously outside a meeting room door intuitively waiting for the right moment to interrupt? I’m sure, like me, you have.
Last week, I found myself doing quite a lot of this so called ‘lurking’...outside not just meeting rooms but libraries, hotel rooms, toilets and even behind television cameras worriedly trying not to be in the shot….all the time waiting for that instinctive second to interrupt, give a time check (with a knowing smile that says, “no really, you have 5 minutes left!”) or ensure that everything was going to plan.
This instinct or intuition, call it what you will, is one of my favourite essential qualities of a PA. For me, it isn’t something you can teach, it is a gut feeling that is built over time, with trust, heightened awareness and acute observational skills. We all often tend to take for granted how brilliant this skill actually is and yet, I’m sure we all do it every day as PAs.
I get a great sense of job satisfaction everyday by intuitively anticipating a need before it arises, it’s one of the things that keeps the “fire in my belly”. Yet whilst intuition isn’t something that can be taught, I do strongly believe it is a skill that can be honed and sensitised to your environment and most importantly in our case, to our boss.
For me, it all comes down to finding out what makes your boss ‘tick’, not just how she or he likes their tea in the morning, or the way they like their papers filed, or the myriad of idiosyncrasies I’m sure each of our bosses have. It’s about learning what they’re like as a person, what their passions are in and out of work and understanding where you fit in to their life to make it easier.
It becomes a relationship of sorts, (I certainly feel like I see more of boss than I do my fiancé on occasions!) in my case, it is always professional yet informal, most often relaxed and sometimes hilarious. It is always intuitive.
A girlfriend of mine (and a fellow PA) was telling me the other day that she knows whether it’s going to be a great day or a challenging day at the office by the way her boss says “hello” in the morning. I laughed because I thought she was making it up, and then stopped quite suddenly when I realised she wasn’t! She is so ‘in tune’ with her boss that one word can give her all the answers she needs to pre-empt the day ahead.
So, the next time you’re loitering outside that meeting room door, waiting (intuitively of course) for the right opportunity to enter, pause for a moment to consider just how brilliant your lurking skills are.
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