In our first ever VLOG, Rebecca and Alisa are sharing their journey transitioning from EAs into their management roles here at Baringa. We'll hear what management means to them, the challenges they have had to overcome and their most memorable moments. Please see below an overview of their answers from the VLOG.

1. Tell us a bit about yourself, your career and how you ended up at Baringa?

Rebecca: I was born in New Zealand, however my family relocated to Perth in Western Australia while I was a teenager. I decided not to go to university but finish school a year early and start working as a Junior Receptionist. A couple of years later, I completed a Business Administration traineeship, moving into various other Administration Assistant roles. I got to a point where I had been working for about ten years and suddenly wanted my ‘gap year’ and to go travelling. I had always loved the idea of London and Europe, so moved over and have been living here nine years now. When I moved to London, I was also looking for that next step in my career and that’s where I started my first role as an Executive Assistant (EA). I have been with Baringa for just over three years.

Alisa: I was born in Russia and moved over to Germany when I was two months old. I played tennis professionally from the age of six and once I finished my degree in ‘Business Management’ at the age of 18, I was planning on moving to the US to pursue my studies and play college tennis. In 2014 I decided to move over to London to gain some business experience before I would leave for the US. My first job was a Personal Assistant to a HNWI for four years. I immediately fell in love with the city and didn't want to move to the US anymore but decided to move to Germany for a year to start my Open study in Psychology. It was there when I was quickly approached by two psychologists to become their assistant at their clinic. In 2019, I decided to pursue my career as an EA in London and started my role at Baringa in April 2019. I have been at Baringa now for 3.5 years.

2. What made you step into a management role?

Alisa: When I transitioned from the EA into the Senior EA role at the end of 2019, we were starting to move into our new office space in 62 Buckingham Gate. During the pandemic in 2020 in the early stages of the move, I was asked by my manager if I would be interested in helping on different testing and facility matters. I was very happy and excited about this new opportunity! Since then, I have always been involved in different office matters. I quickly realised that this role would be the next step in my career to become an Operations Manager. 

Rebecca: While I was in my Senior EA role, I had a lot more exposure to the operational and strategical side of the EA world, especially as I was assisting with all our EA Recruitment. I found myself getting more excited and passionate about some of the additional tasks and initiatives I was involved with, rather than the diary management. I have always been a people person, so working in a role which is solely to do with people and mentoring, coaching and leading a team is enjoyable to me, and that’s how I ended up applying and stepping into this Management role. 

3. How are you finding the transition from an EA to full time Manager?

Rebecca: I am enjoying it! There is so much variety in my day, I’m involved with lots of projects and operational initiatives. Being an EA myself has helped me to understand what this role needs and where it can go. I know I’m not supposed to say this, but I don’t miss the diaries at all! That was the one thing I was worried about, having been an EA for so many years, how I would find the transition and move away from the diary management, but it’s just come as a natural next step. 

Alisa: It’s always a little bit challenging in the beginning due to the change of your team and also the variety of tasks and responsibilities that you have to implement. However, I have been enjoying it since day one and fully embracing all the different challenges and opportunities that come along with the role. 

4. What do you see as the biggest challenges in the role?

Rebecca: As an EA not only do you have to be proactive and think ahead, but you are mostly reactive to what's happening in the diaries at any given moment - there are always lots of emergencies happening – cancelled meetings, clashes, last minute lunches to order. In this new role I am already noticing it’s less about taking a reactive approach to the day to day but looking at the bigger picture and wider impact. I feel the biggest challenge for me is learning to work slower and more strategic when I’ve come from being in reactive roles most of my career. 

Alisa: The biggest challenge for me is to balance the strategic growth that Baringa has seen over the past year and the office space issues which we are currently having. We will be supporting our employees as much as we can and will be bringing out new ideas in the future for additional office space. 

5. What do you enjoy most about the role?

Alisa: I have been really enjoying working closely with the Front of House and Facilities Team to run the office, but also with the wider teams from different business units in order to implement different projects and ideas around the office.

Rebecca: It’s the people I work with. I don’t think I would have stepped up into this Manager role if it hadn’t been for the incredibly talented and supportive team of EAs I've been working with here.

6. What type of behaviours or qualities do you believe are key for a leader?

Alisa: I believe it is very important as a leader to listen to your team and for you to help them achieving their goals and objectives. You really need to focus on progression in their career. Additionally, it is very important to stay calm in difficult situations and be there for your team when they need you the most. 

Rebecca: I believe a great leader is someone who leads by example, showing people what to do, rather than telling them. The qualities you need in a leader is a person who is good at communicating, are approachable, personable, authentic and a great listener.

7. Those who work within the EA community develop really important soft skills, how important do you think it is to continue to develop and work on your soft skills when you are leading a team?

Alisa: I believe communication is key. Since I stepped into the Operations Manager role, I have been more aware of the wider business and the important requests from multiple stakeholders. Therefore, for me it has always been very important to self-develop this skill. 

Rebecca: I agree, communication is key. You need to continue to be being organised, proactive and resilient. It's important as a manager to continue to own your own personal development, whether it's by listening to different podcasts, reading leadership books and having a management community around you to bounce ideas off and lean on for support.

8. What has been your most memorable work moment?

Alisa: For me, I really enjoyed being part of this vlog. I have never done anything like this before, but I’m also very proud of the Client EA Network that we have built here. I have been part of it since I was an EA and I'm very happy and excited about all the different events and fantastic initiatives that we were able to implement this year.

Rebecca: I agree, creating this vlog is a memorable moment, and something I haven't done before. That’s what I love about Baringa, it’s the opportunities we are given, we get to own our own Personal Development and grow both professionally and personally.  

9. What have been some of your favourite leadership books or quotes?

Rebecca: I once heard this great quote, by John Maxwell, "In order to Lead others, you first need to Lead yourself". 

I feel as leaders we constantly need to be checking in on ourselves and where we are at. In your personal life - are you eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep? In your work life - how is your time-management, are you meeting deadlines, what quality of work are you producing? Are you helping others and being a team player? If you can lead yourself well with these few examples, you will have a better impact when leading, managing, or coaching others to do the same. Again, I think the most effective leaders are those who are role models and doing it themselves, rather than telling others what to do.

Alisa: I totally agree with Rebecca, it’s so important to be in the right Headspace as a Leader.  You must be able to help them progress and achieve their objectives. I can recommend a book on resilience which I enjoyed; it's called GRIT by Angela Duckworth.

Thank you for taking the time to watch and read our latest episode. We hope you’ve found this BLOG insightful!

About the authors:

Rebecca Holliday

Rebecca is the EA Manager within the Baringa Enablement team and has been working as an Administration professional for almost 20 years. She is passionate about people and seeing others reach their full potential.

Alisa Kourkine

Alisa is the UK Operations Manager within the Baringa Enablement team and has been an administration professional for almost 10 years. She is passionate about stakeholder management, leading teams, and organisational psychology.

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