Admin Spotlight – Madelaine Zahr

Name: Madelaine Zahr (aka Mads)

Job Title: Executive Assistant Business Partner to Country Manager 

Company: Pinterest 


AA: Hello Madeline and thank you for participating in the Admin Avenues ‘Admin Spotlight’ series.

MZ: I love reading these from other admins, so it is a joy to be a part of it.

AA: So let’s jump right in. How long have you worked in admin?

MZ: I have been in various admin roles for almost 15 years!

AA: What did your first day as a career admin look like?

MZ: I dropped out of school in year 10. School was not my thing. I only ever wanted to be a vet but that didn’t happen. I landed my first reception job from the local newspaper with no skills or experience. I was answering phones, lots of data entry, and buying staff lunches every day. I’m still grateful someone gave me a chance with no experience.

AA: What has been your career highlight to date?

MZ: 100% the opportunity Pinterest has given me to do what I love. I am seen for my role as an Executive Assistant and treated like a true business partner. My fingers are dipped in all the pies here in the Sydney office including workplace, morale, events, marketing and also the admin side of things. Another highlight was opening our new office last year. I was heavily involved with this project. It was a huge highlight for me! 

AA: How does your role as an Executive Assistant to a Country Manager in a global organisation differ from your previous role as a Personal Assistant to a Director in the event industry?

MZ: It is a whole different ball game. Dealing with lots of direction from lots of different angles, and managing MANY different global stakeholders is the main difference. But I love it as I am a true people person and I get the opportunity to meet new people across the whole global business. 

AA: What skills do you possess that you believe are crucial to your role?

MZ: Always being on the ball and a couple of steps ahead, being a people person and the art of improvising.

AA: What are 3 items you can’t work without?


  1. Calendar
  2. Notepad 
  3. A clear office environment…. I can’t function in mess

AA: What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of your position as an Executive Assistant?

MZ: I feel privileged to have a seat at the table in all things here at Pinterest Sydney alongside Melinda who is a fabulous leader and supporter to me. I am very grateful for our relationship and to be involved in many conversations and decisions that are made to continue to make Pinterest Australia successful. I think that is the most rewarding part. 

AA: It looks like there is an amazing culture at Pinterest. Do you have a good crew of admins that all support each other?

MZ: We have an amazing culture echoed from the top at HQ, but I am also grateful that I have been able to be very hands on with building the culture locally since I started. We just recently launched a culture committee co-led by one of our amazing sales managers. This is working on things like our first Pinterest friends & family day which was so exciting.   

AA: What’s your admin superpower?

MZ: I’m a quick thinker and reactor. It may not always benefit the situation… but I pride myself on it and I love to put out fires quickly, who has time to wait? 

AA: What do you consider to be the most difficult part of your day?

MZ: Is it weird to say there isn’t one that comes to mind? Juggling the school drop off and pick up can be challenging and squeezing work and life into one day is sometimes a handful, but we make it work.

AA: Can you recommend any helpful books, programs, or podcasts that you love?

MZ: I must admit I am not a big reader, but my favorite book is ‘Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff’ by Richard Carlson. I did see that the new free membership on Admin Avenues has some great recommendations. I’ll have to properly check them out. 

AA: What motivated the career change from working in retail to working in admin? 

MZ: Retail was just a job filler. I had no idea what to do with my life. I didn’t know that having a career as an admin was possible. It all worked out as it was meant to. I’m in my dream role and career today. I think everyone can benefit from the skills you learn in a retail/customer service job though. It’s great training. 

AA: Do you think / feel it was an easy jump or did you do some training to move into an admin career?

MZ: I was in the right place at the right time, with the right people supporting me. I learnt a lot at my previous role at LinkedIn in the admin and events team, which I was in for almost 5 years. So many transferable skills for Pinterest to be able trust me and take me on in this EA/BP role.

AA: Do you think that your customer service background and experience gives you any unique insights or abilities in your Executive Assistant role? 

MZ: Absolutely, customer service is #1 no matter who you are working with or what stakeholder in any role. I pride myself on this and learnt a lot from previous roles. Customer service is gold.

AA: Do you have any tips that you would like to share?

MZ: The life of an EA is so fast paced with lots of juggling. It can get overwhelming. But I always ask myself when feeling overwhelmed, will it worry you in 12 months’ time? The answer is always no 🙂 

AA: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?

MZ: Never forget to stop and appreciate how far you’ve come.

AA: What advice would you give other admins thinking about changing careers / companies / employers?

MZ: Give it a shot, what have you got to lose? It is an amazing industry. I have met SO many talented folks in this career and it has a wonderful community.

AA: What are your top tips for keeping your resume up to date and job-ready?

MZ: I must say, I am terrible on the resume side of things, but Canva would be my go-to. Something unique and true to you and keep it to 1 page. I always keep my LinkedIn up to date as well as I am very active on it.

How can our admin readers connect with you?

You can reach on my LinkedIn account here!

Thank you so much for your time Mads. We so very much appreciate your time to speak with us about your career journey.

You’re very welcome!


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