Admin Spotlight – Candice Burningham
Welcome to our first ‘Admin Spotlight’ for Admin Avenues!
We want Admin Avenues to be more than just a place to find new jobs. We want it to be THE go to website for admins to find providers of information, courses, masterclasses, tips, advice and more. We want to showcase Australian admin talent and get them to share their journey of how they got to where they are and any advice they can give to the admin industry.
We will be interviewing people at all levels of admin from all over Australia. We hope you enjoy these spotlight insights. Please feel free to share with your peers and feedback anything or anyone you think we should feature.
So, who is better to kick things off than our Founder Candice Burningham.
Who is Candice Burningham:
As a career Executive Assistant, I was responsible for delivering executive and operational support for presidents, CEOs and founders of some of the top media, entertainment and design companies in Sydney and London, UK including:
- Kelly Hoppen CBE, world renowned Interior designer, author, proprietor, entrepreneur and Dragon on BBCs Dragons Den
- Deborah Turness, CEO of BBC News, former President of NBC News International (the first ever woman to be president of a network news division in the USA)
- Michael Ebeid AM, Former CEO and Managing Director of SBS
- Jeffrey Browne, Collingwood AFL President, former Managing Director of Channel 9 and Chairman of HSV Racing
How long have you worked in Admin?
Two decades – eek! My first admin job was in 2002.
Did you always want to work in admin?
No. I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was always organised, but I was too busy having fun in high school to think of a career. I never went to university. When all my friends were in uni, I was off living in Canada and the UK travelling around the world and working odd jobs here and there. Before I left, I obviously needed to save some money, so I got a job as a receptionist. The Office Manager of the firm left a few months later and they offered me the opportunity to take on the extra responsibility. I jumped at the chance and took to it like a duck to water as they say. I was then asked to take on the 2 directors diaries to manage their meetings, and that’s how I fell in to my career in admin. I’ve never looked back!
What was your first real Executive Assistant job?
It was at a company called Genworth Financial. I was a receptionist and a new COO started at the company and he needed an assistant. I applied for the role and he gave me a chance of proving that I could jump straight in to c-suite level assistance. His name is David Hampton and we worked together at 3 companies. We are still very dear friends to this day. Without David taking a chance on me, my career wouldn’t have progressed they way it did.
How did you get to work in the jobs your worked in?
Honestly, there was no secret or method or advice I can give. I was in the right place at the right time and I “matched” with the people I worked for. When I changed industry from Banking/Finance to Media. I had quit my job to go travelling again, replaced myself in my role (so I was jobless) and then – the GFC hit! Everyone told me to stay in Australia, so I did. I had to find a new job. A friend of mine that I had worked with in another banking institution told me about a job at Channel 9. I went for the interview and got along well with the bosses that they rang to offer me the job in a matter of hours after my interview. I feel like it was just meant to be. I was meant to get out of Banking/Finance and move in Media where I spent the rest of my career as an EA. In my personal opinion, you need to have the skills to operate at a c-suite level of course but there are plenty of candidates who are skilled to do the job. My advice is to be your authentic self. They are looking for someone who can do the job but someone who’s going to work well with them. Be a team. Feel supported. That’s how I have got the jobs I have got. If you ask any of my previous employers, they would tell you I always had their back 100% and they could whole-heartedly trust me. If you can provide that kind of security and ease for your executive, you’re going to go places.
What would you say was your most challenging role in admin?
That’s hard to say as each role has its complexities but…I would say working with Deborah Turness who was the President of News International for NBC Universal. It was my first EA job that I had to work virtually as she was barely in the country during the week. Her diary, travel plans and calendar schedule was a constant game of tetras and pivoting. This job is where I learnt you shouldn’t just have a plan B and C, you need a plan D too! Deborah was wonderful though. She was always so grateful and easy to please. If there was just a cup of earl grey tea in the room – she was happy.
What skills do you possess that you believe were crucial to your admin jobs?
My main skill was that I am a born organiser. I always had things mapped out, planned and looking forward. I also always kept up to date with technology. When new systems were introduced, I didn’t shy away from learning them, I jumped in and said “show me”. I am best to learn when someone physically shows me once, then I have it.
What are your biggest weaknesses?
I am not a good listener. Yes, that’s hard to admit but i’m not. I am not an audible person. I always ask people to email as I take in words on screen/paper easier. I am a red colour personality. I want things now, now, now and never accept no for an answer. This is good for getting things done but it also limits me in things like delegation. I am always worried that people won’t do as good of a job as I would so I just do it all myself. This isn’t smart and I recommend if anyone has the same issue, get some tools to stop this as you will take too much on and risk burnout.
What would you consider to be the most rewarding part of working in admin?
When I worked in corporate, we always had a team of assistants that all worked together. If someone needed help and the others could, they would jump-in. We made friendships that have lasted a lifetime. The community of admins is very special core group to be a part of. I feel really lucky to still be part of this industry.
What are some tools you can’t live without?
- my laptops (yes plural, I have 2 with me at all times)
- my mobile phones (again yes plural)
- A scribble notebook. I tend to take things in easier if I write them down. I also have a terrible short-term memory. I can easily forget a name as soon as someone says it. It’s so embarassing
- A snack. I always keep a snack in my handbag and laptop bag. If I get hungry, I can’t concentrate. A muesli bar will get me through. I just need something.
- My “emergency kit”. I got the idea from Pinch Provisions. I liked what they had but I wanted to build my own to add paracetamol, stain remover wipes etc.
Do you consider yourself a mentor?
No, I don’t consider myself a mentor or an expert in anything. I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But, I’ve had a lot of life experience and if I can impart some advice or knowledge to people, and that helps them, then I’m here for that. I consider myself more of a advocate for the admin industry and an connector to introduce jobseekers with recruiters or companies I think they would match with. That sounds like I’m a “match-maker” ha-ha. I guess I am in a business sense.
Any tips you’d like to share with your fellow EAs?
Work with industry professionals. There is SO much free access to people who can help you in your admin career. As a matter of fact, we’re creating a page on Admin Avenues to list all these providers who can offer admin specific recruitment services in your city, industry experts offering courses, masterclasses, networking opportunities and more. My other piece of advice is network! Connect with other admins and create relationships. Meet up out of work and have a chat about life in admin. Talk about salaries, talk about things you’re struggling with. You will find that we all face the same worries in this industry. Sometimes you just need to talk it through and know that someone truly understands what you’re going through.
What do you do when you’re not running your businesses:
I do the usual, catching up with friends, I love to watch a show or go to a concert. I am also a long-time supporter of UNHCR Australia (The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) and Ronald McDonald House. I’m a proud LGBTQIA+ straight ally and also support the Pride Foundation Australia. I don’t just sit behind my computer or donate money to support, I like to volunteer, do charity drives and get in and help on the front line where possible. I love to give back. It gives you such a sense of satisfaction when you’re able to do so.
Why did you create Admin Avenues?
I am a huge admin advocate. I want to impart my knowledge, network and experience to bring up the next generation of administration professionals so that they understand that administrative staff are vital to business and that there’s real power and money in these roles. It’s a career that can take you around the world. It’s a niche skill that companies in every country require. I am passionate about helping my clients and my community. I know first hand how it feels when you get that job you’re so excited about and also the excitement you feel when you have placed the perfect candidate. It’s a great feeling!
What are you social channels if people would like to follow you?
Want to be featured on the Admin Spotlight?
We’re always looking for admins to share their experiences, advice and tips with our admin community. If you would like to be featured, send us an email at [email protected].