Charlotte Wood is an award-winning Executive Assistant with professional services giant JLL, who was voted PA of the Year and Ambassador of the Year at the 2015 London PA Awards. We spoke to her to reflect on her role, achievements, and what advice she would give to ambitious PAs looking to get ahead in their own careers.
How did your career path evolve and lead you to where you are today?
I joined JLL as Team Secretary in 2008 and worked my way up. I pride myself on never turning down any opportunities that come my way and have always pushed myself to achieve more. This has definitely paid off, as today I am an Executive Assistant for both the EMEA CEO and Global COO of the Corporate Solutions business at JLL.
What are three things which excite you the most about your role?
1. I enjoy working with a talented and highly diverse team – from support staff to leadership – which is made up of people located around the world all of whom have different skillsets, ambitions and visions. On a daily basis, I get to talk to people from Sydney, Singapore, Dubai, Warsaw, Chicago and, of course, London. The different time zones definitely keep me on my toes, with regular global meetings, workshops and strategy sessions.
2. Working closely with industry leaders who are leveraging the most cutting-edge technology to transform real estate and JLL as a business is also highly exciting. I am a big lover of all things tech, so it is great to see how new ideas and digital innovation merge at JLL.
3. No day is the ever same. I feel I need to keep learning new ways of working smarter and more efficiently, that’s where the real value comes in.
What achievement are you most proud of, so far, in your career?
Winning the Ambassador of the Year and PA of the Year at the 2015 London PA Awards was obviously a huge highlight, and easily one of the proudest moments in my career.
I am also a member of JLL’s UK Charity Committee. We partner with Crisis Group, who provide vital help so that people can rebuild their lives and are supported out of homelessness for good. The UK Charity Committee plays a huge role in Crisis’ fundraising and volunteering opportunities, encouraging and enabling JLL’s employees to be part of it. Previously we partnered with Starlight, for whom we raised more than £650,000 over two years. It’s great that we have the opportunity to support and contribute to these great charities, and I’m also very proud of my role in that mission.
What does a typical day in the life of a JLL executive assistant look like?
Throughout the day, I have to effectively and efficiently multi-task. I always have my phone in one hand to keep up with emails and calls, and at the same time, I need to be able to manage my day-to-day task list. It can be hectic, but I wouldn’t change a thing.
Most days, there is an event to arrange or a project to manage, on top of more traditional PA support. Whether it be a global conference or a networking event, PAs are taking on more managerial responsibilities, and gaining greater traction across the industry.
Earlier this year, I was also involved in merging two of JLL’s major departments from our offices in the West End of London to our newly redesigned workspace in Canary Wharf. We were committed to our offices showcasing what we can help our clients achieve. To help this become a reality, I was involved in and supported plenty of site visits, design and budget meetings, as well as staff town halls.
Do you have any advice for the next generation of aspiring PAs who are just starting out in their careers?
My key piece of advice is to never say ‘no’ to an opportunity to help, contribute and add value to the organisation.
I also always try to focus on finding solutions and solving problems. Sometimes the best things that happen come from something that had initially not gone as expected.
Finally, even after 10 years at JLL, I set myself the objective of meeting someone new within the organisation once a week. I find I learn the most from my colleagues. Not only are they a vital resource for knowledge and best practice, but it’s also essential for me to build and develop a collaborative network.
Contact your nearest PA & Secretarial office today to find out how we can help you take the next step in your career.