By Donna Coulling
Donna Coulling has been a PA for over ten years and her clients include Helena Bonham Carter, Rachel Weisz, Sir Derek Jacobi and Samuel West.
She is known as an expert in her field; runs seminars, has spoken and presented at many events and has made numerous TV appearances as a Celebrity PA on shows for Channel 4, Living TV and regularly presents on the shopping channel QVC.
I’ve just been around the world in 15 days (Not quite the Jules Verne novel but worth a try) speaking at two different EA/PA Conferences. When I started as a PA with no formal training just a performing arts diploma, I had no idea that what I had originally trained in would be so useful in my future career...especially since I thought I'd left it all behind when I started my first PA role.
Being so passionate and enthusiastic about my job and knowing that I’ve been hugely lucky in finding a role that I genuinely love, I really enjoy meeting other people in a similar situation or who are doing something similar but haven’t quite found their niche yet.
When I’m asked to speak at an event or conference I jump at it. I’m a big fan of sharing how it works for me in the hope that I can help others find ways in which to make it work for them. I was very fortunate to be asked to present at the very first Behind Every Leader conference in Anaheim, Los Angeles last month. Attended by 120 super fabulous, intelligent women from all over the US. I was there with speakers and trainers I respect and admire from the UK and the US, among which were Sue France (PA Coach and Trainer), Lucy Brazier (Founder of Executive Secretary Magazine), Victoria Darragh (EA to Group HR Director and Technology Director at Hays) and Bonnie Low-Kramen (Best-Selling Author of "Be the Ultimate Assistant") .
The conference was held over two days and was a hot bed of inspiration and motivation, we all came away fired up and wanting to put into practice all that we’d learned. I’m a firm believer that as people we evolve everyday, be this from the people we meet, the books we read, the challenges we are thrown and this too is part of why I enjoy my job so much. I never know what I’m going to be given from one day to the next – no two days are the same and I thrive on that. It keeps me on my toes, keeps things fresh and mostly it stretches me as a person (and sometimes my sense of humour!).
I came home briefly (to my daughter, day job and presenting job at QVC) before heading out to Sydney, Australia to speak at the 5th Annual EA/PA Convention. I ran a 7 hour workshop and opened the convention – again (albeit on another continent) was greeted with a room filled with 70 uber glam, powerful, influential women coming together to hone their skills and share experiences with other like-minded people to take back tips and secrets they’d shared to make them so much more indispensable to their bosses.
Power to the PA – we really are worth our weight in gold.
Donna Runs her own website www.donnacoulling.com and a fortnightly newsletter to national and international PA’s. Twitter: @DCPAGirl
Donna’s next day course ‘How to be a better PA’ will be held on May 17th in London.
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