We spoke to Michelle Butler to find out what her role entails, her career journey and any tips she has for someone looking for a role similar to hers.
Executive assistant and business support
As an executive assistant, I mainly support Mark Davies and his key responsibilities as managing director of Link Mortgages Services, a business that was bought by Capita in 2014. I also support other members of our executive committee (ExCo) which is made up of our directors and senior executives who have responsibility for sales and business development, commercial servicing, compliance, residential servicing, finance and our business loan systems.
As business support, I take care of the whole office. Originally I started my career here as a receptionist and my role eventually expanded to facilities manager which put me in charge of making sure employees’ needs are met when it comes to the building and its services. This often involves speaking with the landlord as well as listening to employees and trying to implement change that directly benefits them.
There aren’t any specific qualifications you need but if you want to go for an executive assistant role you should have some experience working in an office environment. Working on reception is a great way to start as you learn so much about the business you work for from a position and perspective that spans across the whole business.
For an executive assistant role, you also need to know how to deal with senior people, complex situations and ensure total confidentiality. The utmost trust is instilled in you because you support someone, and in my case a team, on a very personal level. For example, you might have access to their diary and to other confidential documents, and you need to be the type of person that can be trusted with that. It also helps to avoid making mistakes!
I would say the biggest challenge is that you can’t always be fully prepared for everything, however organised you might like to be. Your day-to-day life and tasks can change very quickly because being an EA revolves around the demanding responsibilities of the senior people you support.
You need to be incredibly organised even when everything is going to plan – and then even more so when it’s not!
In my EA role, sometimes even the smallest things I do can make a big difference to Mark and the ExCo and that can mean a lot to them. Mark’s a laid-back person too (believe it or not) and is very trusting of me and his wider team. The great thing for me is that we can tell each other what we honestly think because we respect each other’s opinion. When you’re someone’s EA, you have to trust and support each other – it can’t just be a one-sided affair. People often say an EA’s role is to make others look good, so if I do that well, I’ll look good too.
In business support, it’s rewarding when you can plan and implement a change that employees have asked for and that makes a difference to their life in the office. That can be anything from fixing something that’s not working to actually introducing new things into the office.
Make sure you’re honest and open. This is a role for people who like working with people, so you need to show that you’re dependable, organised, confident and approachable. Just remember to be yourself!
I’m a total sun-worshipper! My husband and I love to travel. In March, we went to Thailand for two weeks and it was incredible. In June we were in Malta – what a place! It’s definitely my biggest vice and greatest pleasure. Our dream is to one day own a house in Spain and grow old together there.
Oh… and I do quite like shopping.