Congratulations are due to Lisa, the first in the PA Business Support team to be awarded ‘VA of the Month’ – an award given in recognition of great work, skills and achievements within our ever-growing team. Below is the first profile for ‘VA of the Month’ as we delve into Lisa’s story and why she took the gold for June…
On board with the PA Business Support team since 2015, Lisa, was introduced to the team via a networking opportunity. Trained as a secretary and with extensive PA and EA experience, Lisa came with a fantastic wealth of skills that the team were itching to put to good use.
Based at home with husband Cliff and dog Busta in Wiltshire, Lisa currently shares her time working between two main clients, facilitating emails responses, diary management and organising travel arrangements for each in line with their needs.
With just two clients to focus on, Lisa prides herself on being able to provide a service which is entirely in tune with each client’s bespoke needs. An open and vocal approach in asking questions, Lisa finds knowing as much as she can about her clients allows her to provide them the best service. She manages her time between the needs of both, understanding and managing the difference in responsibilities, duties and frequency of contact her clients need in any given week.
Her work between these clients is split; one is focused on accounts, invoices and expenses management, with the other focusing on a more structured PA service surrounding services, such as minute taking in key meetings at senior management level. With each clients’ needs fluctuating week-by-week, requiring regular check ins and an occasional steer from the PA Business Support team, Lisa assesses her own workflow on a daily basis to manage her time between the two effectively.
An eye for detail and the ability to think on your feet are two traits Lisa believes go hand in hand with being a good VA to her clients. She says:
“I endeavor to ensure that everything is in place, dot the I’s and cross the T’s. I read their emails always looking for the detail. For example, if I see tickets in the diary for event, it makes sense to follow up with checking invited guests, transport and dinner arrangements, which can often get overlooked.”
The realities of being a virtual office assistant, Lisa says, can be challenging at times, yet those very challenges can make it adaptable, flexible and less restrictive in working around the bigger picture. Having to take responsibility for your own time, tasking yourself to deliver in the realities of remote working takes disciple. Lisa says there is a balance to be struck in focusing yourself on your work at home, but also networking, engaging with clients and other VAs, and getting out into the local business scene to keep her hand in with the local community. For Lisa, the value of being able to pick up her work anywhere with an internet connection and work the hours in her favour means she regains valuable time at home with her husband and close family.
When asked about the biggest misconception about the VA industry, Lisa says it simply is that ‘virtual’ links to connotations of being ‘disconnected’ and for her the very opposite is true. She adds:
“We are virtual, but we are real people and very much an active and inclusive part of our clients business. Thankfully the clients I have through PA Business Support enjoy contact – both remotely and by visiting on site. I think sometimes saying we manage diaries and emails can belittle what we do to some people – it’s an important job and we are there as their eyes and ears to ensure our clients don’t miss these simple things that make daily life so much easier.
I feel extremely fortunate that I came across Sabina and Sophie and that they took a chance on me and put me forward to their clients. I am hoping that I stay working for them and my client’s till I retire!”
When quizzed on her top five ‘must-haves’ for being an effective VA – although the practicalities of laptop, broadband and IT support nipped in the top three – tucked away in Lisa’s list was the support of other VAs, showing that remote working still requires the backbone of a like-minded team, which, for Lisa, comes in the form of PA Business Support.
Even just scooping the inaugural VA of the month title gives Lisa a sense of belonging to a wider team with common ground for support. She finishes:
“I know there was going to be a team member nominated for VA of the month but was shocked and absolutely delighted for it to be me. I enjoy the direct interaction and understanding I have with client, but also take pride knowing I am making a difference to Sophie, Sabina and the rest of the PA Business Support team.”