Katie McEwan FEPAA

Katies works as Executive Support Manager to Jacqueline Gold CBE at Ann Summers

Why did you want to be a PA?

I didn’t initially start out to be a PA, I graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a degree in Music & Drama. I managed to get experience in TV and worked successfully within TV production for nearly 3 years, before I was head hunted for the job for Jacqueline.

I saw a lot of skill synergy in the role I was doing in TV and that of a PA, but it was really the idea of working for someone as well-known and respected as Jacqueline that encouraged to take the leap!

What surprised you about your job?

Everything, I was learning a new career, in a new business, in a new role, for a new individual all with absolutely no previous experience – it was scary! The biggest surprise was how immediately trusting Jacqueline was of me with the details of her life – one of her many remarkable qualities.

What has been the best perk of your job?

Hello, I work at Ann Summers!?!?

I am sure you will want to hear that I get to eat in some really lovely restaurants, and stay in some really lovely hotels, I’ve been chauffeur driven in a Rolls Royce and flown in a helicopter and a few private jets. But, it isn’t really like that –the real perks are the lingerie!

What is the hardest thing about your job?

As I sit at my desk now, stranded in Surrey when I can’t get home to Essex as the M25 is shut, I can 100% say it’s having to navigate the devil’s highway every day! I have now commuted 100 miles a day for over 8.5 years, and that does definitely take its toll as a long day can become even longer, but I am fortunate that it is broken up with other travel so it’s not always this bad!

How do you think PA’s are perceived by those in other careers in 2016?

I think it’s pretty mixed. Certainly within our business, I am seen as a leader and a manager, someone that enables Jacqueline to be as successful as she can be and a conduit between her and her teams. Is that true everywhere, probably not, but I think it is improving.

What would you like people to know about being a Celeb PA?

I don’t see myself as a celebrity PA. I’m sure if I were to compare my role, there would definitely be similarities, but Jacqueline is the CEO of a multi-million pound retail business, so my day-job is largely focused on her role in business. Yes PR and Brand is a significant part of my role, but it is based around strategy and execution and not attending the latest celeb party!

What would you say to school leavers just embarking on their career?

Assuming they haven’t already decided they want to be a PA – then become a PA!

If they have already decided to pursue a career as an assistant, I would say your learning hasn’t stopped, it’s only just beginning. Be ready to work smart, absorb as much information as you can from those around you, take on the right training and be open to adapting to your environment.