Admin Spotlight – Rachel Hall
Name: Rachel Hall
Job Title: Executive Assistant to the CEO and CFO
Company: St Philip’s Christian Education
Admin Avenues: Thank you so much for joining us for this month’s Admin Spotlight Rachel.
Rachel Hall: I’m delighted to have been invited, thank you.
AA: Lets jump right in as we have a lot to talk about. Let’s start with how long have you been a career admin professional?
RH: I have been in this career for 19 years. That blows my mind.
AA: What did your first day as an admin professional look like?
RH: I started with a work placement for my Certificate II in Business Administration while in Year 12. I was shadowing the receptionist role. Everything was very manual. I remember nervously answering the telephone, and taking handwritten messages, sorting and opening mail, again handwritten recording of these, front desk customer service and sorting of paper based files. I even remember having to read through physical copies of various newspapers looking for articles relating to the Aged Care industry which I was in at the time, then cut them out and photocopy for our Board of Directors information.
AA: From your first day to now, how has your definition of the admin role changed?
RH: The admin role has developed into so much more than a process role. It is an integral relationship building role. As you, regardless of your level of responsibility, are the face of the company. And your initial interaction with a client, colleague or stakeholder can have a huge impact either positively or negatively on your executive and the organisation.
AA: How does your role as an Executive Assistant differ from your previous administrative roles?
RH: The Executive Assistant role is an extension of my other administrative roles. It is looking beyond what your direct responsibilities and to do list is, and working out how you can use your skills to help your Executive and team to be the most effective that they can be. It’s learning to shine through others successes.
AA: What motivated the career change from Aged Care to Education?
RH: Family life balance and the right opportunity at the right time. I had stepped out of my EA role when I started my family and was working in another part time administration role within the same company. I wasn’t unhappy in Aged Care or particularly looking for the change, but the opportunity arose as my eldest was starting school for me to step back into the EA level role, which I was ready for. Being that it was in the Education sector, I thought it would be a good balance of the EA role, but not as demanding timewise as a corporate role has the tendency to be. Both industries are very relational and about supporting individuals and their families, and I really value being able to be involved in businesses with this mission, vision and values.
AA: You were the 2023 recipient of the Australian Institute of Office Professionals (AIOP) Administrative Award of Excellence in the category of Office Professional! How did you feel when they called your name out?
RH: I was genuinely so surprised. (A moment which I am so grateful you caught on camera). Having heard the incredible work that the other finalists had been doing, not only in their own careers but in highlighting the administration profession through various podcasts and platforms, I felt thoroughly underqualified to have even applied let alone win. Imposter syndrome had certainly set in for me in that moment.
AA: You’ve since gone on to take over the role as NSW President for AIOP – congratulations! This is a huge role that I’m so excited you’ve taken on. We can’t wait to do some joint in-person events and get admin in NSW (both CBD & Regional) networking again. With all of this on your plate, how do you manage to keep the wheels turning?
RH: Thank you. I am really excited to be able to step into this role and I look forward to seeing what I can bring to the NSW division and how AIOP can continue to equip and encourage admin professionals across the country.
I am not always sure I do. It’s a bit like those street performers spinning plates on poles, you can keep them all spinning, but you have to keep your eye on them, sometimes one will start to slow and you need to give it more attention, and then move onto another. But it is impossible to maintain on your own. You have to build a team around you. Being a successful EA or administration professional at any level is not a one person show.
AA: What are 3 items you can’t work without?
RH: My notepad (if I don’t write it down it didn’t happen); My calendar (and everyone elses); My phone
AA: What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of being a career admin professional?
RH: To expand upon the plate spinning metaphor above, being a part of a successful team. Being a part of a team that can support one another, build each other up, and move in a common direction to achieve great results. Whether it is a large scale event, or the day to day tasks. Any role that you have is only what you make of it. Be humble, caring, supportive and loyal and this career can provide so much more than a paycheck at the end of the week.
AA: What’s your admin “signature skill”?
RH: Anticipating the needs of my Executive team, or if I have missed something, finding a solution on the fly without being visibly flustered (hopefully). Think of a duck, paddling frantically under the water, but gliding along the surface. The way that you get things done may not always be pretty, but the end result will shine.
AA: What skills do you possess that you believe are crucial to your role?
RH: I have two competing strengths that I think really help me. Consistency and Adaptability. I like to work along the lines of ‘If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it’. But if it does brake, at the most inopportune time, let’s find a creative way to fix it or even make it better.
AA: Can you recommend any helpful books, programs, or podcasts that you love?
RH: For EA’s in the education sector I would recommend connecting in with ‘EAs in Education’ set up by Kristine Niven.
‘Assist with Impact’ Podcast by Liz Van Vliet
‘The Leader Assistant’ Podcast by Jeremy Burrows
AA: What role have you owned, or what experience have you had, that helped shape your career?
RH: When I was completing my Certificate II in Business Administration while at High School, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a career. From that work placement though, I was offered casual work, which led to a full-time position, which then over time led me to work my way up to PA to the CEO. Take the opportunities that come your way or if you can, put yourself forward to learn new skills and take on additional responsibility. It isn’t always about the degree that you have, but your willingness to learn and grow in a role that will progress your career.
AA: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
RH: I love Liz Van Vliet’s analogy of the career spider web rather than career ladder. We often think that unless we are moving forward we aren’t progressing. But sometimes that sideways step, or even perceived backwards step can still lead to your career goals and new opportunities.
AA: What advice would you give other admins thinking about changing companies/employers?
RH: Don’t burn bridges. Always try to leave a role on good terms wherever possible. Our networks are so valuable, and you never know how paths could cross again in the future. You don’t want your past actions to be the roadblock to your future.
AA: What are your top tips for keeping your resume up-to-date and job-ready?
RH: As significant things come up, such as promotions, completed studies, awards etc update your resume at the time. That way when you do want to pursue a new role, you are not having to remember what you have achieved or learnt and you can focus on contextualising your resume for the position.
AA: How can our community connect with you?
RH: Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn HERE.