January Guest Blogger – 2015

Firstly, if we haven’t said it already, Happy New Year! What a great time of year to make some resolutions – everything from being kinder to yourself, to finding a new job; from taking up a new hobby to being more productive at work;  from looking after your health and fitness regime; or making it your business to get to this year’s Forum (well we had to get a shameless plug in somewhere!!!) – it’s certainly true that a good beginning is half the work.

The festive season certainly gives you the opportunity to reflect on where you are at in life and your career, and with that in mind we asked Siobhan to cover a timely topic and write about getting your career on track, researching potential employers and the importance of finding a company culture that matches your values, goals and personality. Happy reading!

Finding the right company culture could make your career  

  Siobhan Kelly pic

Siobhan Kelly, Cpl Office Support

“When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” John Lennon

For those of you who’ve met me, you will already know how much I focus on finding the right cultural fit between an employee and their potential employers. I don’t just say this because it’s a buzz word or the “In” thing. I say it because I lived it and I know first-hand how making the wrong choice can impact every area of your life.

I worked for a company whose culture was completely at odds with what I needed to be a successful recruiter – and a relatively happy human being. It was glaringly obvious from the start but I thought “It will be grand…I’ll manage, maybe it will change..” Well it wasn’t grand, I didn’t manage and it certainly didn’t change.

I was constantly anxious and second guessing myself, that stress started to affect my mood, my ability to think clearly, and ultimately my overall performance in a job that I loved.

Making a change

Thankfully I made a change, I moved to Cpl and for me, it’s perfect. My energy levels are higher, I’ve rediscovered a passion for my career and I actually know what a work-life balance is, as opposed to reading about it in Linkedin articles.

If you are working within a business whose culture is affecting you adversely, change it, or even better, make it part of your research before you join a new company.

Find your perfect company culture

Culture covers so many different aspects of a company it would take another 16 blogs to make a dent in the topic. What would be a dream job for one candidate would be an absolute nightmare for another. You almost need to do a stock take of your own career priorities and tailor your research accordingly.

A simple tip is to find companies that make training and development a priority for interested employees. It shows they not only value their teams, they empower them.

Use sites like Glassdoor.com as part of your research. Some of the reviews are a little biased so don’t believe everything, just pay attention to any common threads that may appear.

LinkedIn can also be a great tool. You can check current employees length of service within the company, whether they’ve been promoted in their role, received training or more importantly if there is a high turnover of staff.

The choice is yours

The job market in Ireland is improving at such a staggering rate, Cpl have launched a campaign to bring 3000 Irish people home from abroad to fill the roles available. There is absolutely no reason to stay in a job that makes you unhappy, unsatisfied and stressed.

The role of a PA/EA will always be challenging, there will always be problems to solve, or Directors who need assistance, that’s the nature of the beast.

You now have the choice to work for a company that supports you as a professional and an individual, trusts in your skill set and ultimately, a company, where you, and the work that you do matters.

Take it from someone who knows, it can change your life.

If you are looking for career advice and thinking of changing your role, Siobhan would be delighted to help you. You can contact her at siobhan.kelly@cpl.ie or phone 01 6146172

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Business Case Request Form – Early Bird

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Update on the 6th Executive PA, Secretary & Admin Forum 2015

Plans are well underway for the 6th Annual Executive PA, Secretary & Admin Forum and we are in discussions with a variety of new speakers and partners for the event, so watch this space for more details!

The Forum will take place on Thursday May 21st and Friday May 22nd 2015, in the Radisson Blu Royal Dublin, Golden Lane in Dublin’s city centre.

Take a look at the line-up of speakers and workshops we have confirmed to date – along with our Early Bird rate which is available until March 30th 2015:


The Forum is a wonderful opportunity to network with your professional peers, to learn from each other and feel part of Ireland’s largest and growing community of EAs & PAs, Office Managers and administrative support staff in Ireland today.

For any further information, please contact aisling@zoomin.ie

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Behind every great leader is an even greater support network, and Santa Claus is no different. In this week’s Tuesday chat, Aisling speaks exclusively to Noelle Holly, Santa’s long-serving Executive P.A.  Just press play on the left of the bar below to hear what she has been up to and her tips and advice for Ireland’s P.A and office support professionals….



Booking Form 2015

Click here to download

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December Guest Blogger – Rosanne Reilly

We are delighted to have Rosanne Reilly as our Guest Blogger for December. Rosanne has had a fascinating career to date which she goes into detail on below. She will also be speaking at our 2015 Forum – have a look at the updated flyer here – and don’t forget the Early Bird rate is available until March 30th 2015!

                    WHAT’S YOUR STORY???……               Rosanne[1]

My name is Rosanne Reilly, I have been a Global Office Manager and Personal Assistant in the corporate and private world for over 15 years.
I’ve worked for celebrities, ultra high net worth individuals, small companies, large companies, national, international, global corporations, private individuals and families. I’ve had so many ups and downs over the years it’s been a real roller coaster experience and it’s not over yet. I’ve been promoted, let go, made redundant, and thought people and companies could not live without me, but I learned the hard way that they could, and life moves on very quickly.
I’ve had about thirty five different jobs to date from cleaning airplanes, promoting a micro-brewery to working in a call centre and many others. I’ve had my own company which failed, tried and then I tried again and luckily things seem to be going better this time around, and I continue to try and live the dream of having my own successful Concierge Personal Assistance business in Ireland someday. I have learned some valuable lessons including that sometimes it’s ok to give up and walk away from something that no longer serves you – to follow a new path and sometimes you should just take a break and keep trying, and know that there’s nothing wrong with changing your plans.

I’ve been put on a pedestal, lead, followed, failed, succeeded, made mistakes, built a career, moved and changed over the years, some people love me and think I’m the best office manager ever, some people hate me and think I’m the worst office manager ever.
People will love you and people will hate you and none of it will have anything to do with you at all. It’s none of your business what other people think of you – it’s only important how you feel about yourself that counts. Never be afraid to seize an opportunity or let anything hold you back. Everything will be ok in the end and if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.

I’ve worked with some amazing people and some not so nice people. I’m not great with complicated maths or budgets but I am great at information gathering and I’m great with people, I have no idea how I have managed to do so well in life so far but it probably has something to do with my strong work ethic and my resolution to never ever give up trying my best. Everyone has talents they just need to bring them to the forefront, and my advice would be: don’t be afraid just because you think one aspect of a task may be challenging – you can do it! Believe in yourself and show up; putting your best effort in makes all the difference.

I hated school and was never very good at it but somehow I ended up with a great job and for the most part doing a great job. I get stressed, overwhelmed, and find it hard to manage a work life balance. I’m trying to do a Masters but sometimes feel too tired to get any work done. I have really let relationships suffer because of work. I’ve been burnt out, put on weight, lost weight, put it on again, and I have a mixture of very high self-confidence & no self-confidence at all. I don’t like to read or speak in public, I’m terrible at grammar, I can’t spell – thank goodness for spellcheck and calculators or I’d be lost!

I am great at IT issues & winging things and making the impossible happen on a daily basis. Where there’s a will there’s always a way. There is nothing in this world that is impossible and if you believe that, then anything is possible. People around the world are doing impossible things on a daily basis and if they can do it – you can do it. I totally believe in myself some days and not others – some of my bosses love me and think I’m a genius, some of my bosses hate me and think I’m a total idiot. You can’t please everyone.

I need to learn the word NO! But after many training courses on assertiveness I still find it hard. I did pick up a good phrase recently that seems to work quite well “What is the need right now?” – seems to work so far anyway.

Along the way I have become a people manager which was unexpected, and I’m learning something new about people each day. It’s not easy, people are complex and every person is so different but people are the most important asset in any company. I do my best for my team every day, I really try to support people in their daily work, I think it’s so important to thank people for all their hard work frequently and try to keep them motivated. I think it’s imperative to have humility and try to see things from other peoples point of view. You end up managing people of all ages and I think it’s important to try and always show respect to people of any age or level regardless of your position. As long as the good times outweigh the bad, I think you’re doing well and it’s important to get constructive feedback often on how you can do better. I try extremely hard to be a great people manager and I hope one day I can tell myself that I am. A good term I learned recently at training is “we are all equal in humanity but not in responsibility” – I like that one.
You should always play the role of the encourager – the world has enough critics already.

I think I’m a workaholic which I definitely get from my dad, I get my determination from my mother. I work to live & live to work which is not a good thing, there is much more to life than work and there has to be a balance, I really need to work on this. It’s my new year’s resolution for 2015. I’m beginning to think work life balance is a myth but I’ll keep working on finding balance and I’ll let you know if I find the secret to balancing it! My family, friends and fiancé are often left waiting on me to finish work – I really need to start prioritising them ahead of work, work doesn’t love you back like they do.

I’m not exactly sure how I ended up where I am today but I’m really enjoying my current role working as a Personal Assistant / Office Manager / Events Coordinator for a large global organisation. I think it might have been a mix of not knowing what I wanted to do with my life, getting a random reception job in a hotel and really liking that job. I got a lucky break too and went to work in an IT training company and as part of my package, I could do all the training courses for free. So I did them all.
I believe education and travel are the only thing you can spend money on that actually make you a richer person. After that I wanted to earn more money and decided I liked the idea of being a Personal Assistant. I thought it looked like a pretty cool job, with good money and access to lots of different opportunities and it just kind of evolved from there. I worked in Property, Construction and then I decided I wanted to be a Private Personal Assistant and jetted off to the Caribbean. It’s difficult living away from home and family, so I ended up coming back home to Ireland but it was amazing to cruise around the Caribbean and visit private islands and be involved in all the amazing activities that the UHNWI liked to do on a daily basis. Almost straight away when I returned home, I got the opportunity to work as a live-in Private Personal Assistant with a HNWI based in Mullingar in a private estate hide away with helicopters, race horses and private jets. I met friends from all over the world that I will have forever and had some amazing experiences.

I have dealt with some of the world’s most influential private and corporate professionals and I’ve learned that having lots of money is amazing but it can’t buy you love, health or happiness. Great wealth comes with its own set of responsibilities. Some people definitely manage it better than others. I have also learned that things are great on the way up but can very hard on the way back down.

One former boss in the construction and world rallycross areas advised me that it’s very difficult to make your first million, but after that it becomes much easier to increase your wealth and that you can only sleep in one bed, wear one suit, be in one house or drive one car at the one time and once you’ve purchased all that stuff, it becomes harder to spend your money. A lot of things come free to those that can afford them.

I had a lot of other weird and wonderful jobs in between such as working for lords, dukes, government officials and people in the music and television industry through my private concierge company and other concierge contracts. I am now working as an office manager in a global pharmaceutical centre of excellence which is fantastic – the people are great and it’s a really positive and wonderful place to work. I have a lot of different responsibilities so it’s a really interesting role.

Your dreams don’t have an expiry date, its ok to stop, take stock and keep striving towards what you want in life. We must always be aware that we have the ultimate power to define who we are, our past does not determine our future so don’t be afraid to go after what you want in life. Aim for the stars and don’t set the bar too low. Make a conscious effort to surround yourself with positive and encouraging people.

Try to stay motivated by having a dream and loving your goal and have passion and enthusiasm for it. Have a plan, follow it and never give up.

Real life is often stranger than fiction and I wouldn’t change any of it for the world… You still have a few days to finish your book for 2014 – make it a good chapter.

I know all the ways not to do things 😉 So if anyone ever needs any advice, I’m here to help!

My story is not finished yet and I have lots more failures and successes to come, so watch this space….


Now…What’s Your Story???

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APAI’s First Networking Event!

Administration Professionals’ Association of Ireland (APAI) first networking event!

There was huge excitement at Bon Appetit in Malahide on the evening of Thursday November 20th as some of Ireland’s top P.As and E.As attended the first networking event and launch of the Administration Professionals’ Association of Ireland (APAI). Despite heavy fog and a suspended train service, guests arrived in twos and threes, ready for an evening of learning and networking, at Bon Appetit’s beautifully restored Georgian Townhouse – the perfect setting for such an occasion.

Untitled   apai logo   Crowd shot 3

On arrival, guests were greeted with a glass of bubbly and some delicious tapas, before settling in to hear all about the incredible progress of the APAI to date. Rosanne Reilly of Mylan, a driving force behind the Association and one of its executive members, welcomed everybody to the event and gave an overview of the goals of the Association. She outlined the objectives of the APAI, whose main mission is to highlight the important work of administrative professionals in Ireland.


IMG_0025[3] Rosanne Reilly Crowd shot 1

Rosanne outlines the objectives of the Association

Some of the APAI’s main objectives include offering mentoring and practical support for colleagues who are new to the profession or working in isolation; setting up career clinics where people can go for career advice; creating tailored and accredited training programs, and providing networking opportunities for members. Turnout was excellent with PA’s from well-known companies including, PwC, Oracle, Boston Scientific, BNP Paribas, Bord Gáis and Ulster Bank in attendance.

Chris Gilson  - Mairead Smith    Fiona Kelly  Natalie Egan   Sian Power - Jacqui Quigley

        Chris & Mairead                   Fiona & Natalie                     Sian & Jacqui

This was an excellent networking opportunity and sponsors Killarney Convention Centre provided a learning element to the event. Noretta Brosnan – who is Digital Marketing Executive for the Convention Centre – led a workshop on LinkedIn with special emphasis on the tools relevant for PA’s and Administrative professionals. Noretta gave everyone great tips for making the most of LinkedIn, advising on the importance of having the right image, giving guidance on making connections, and the benefits of listing all and any achievements you have (be they professional or not). The talk was a fantastic addition to the evening and a great motivation for guests to update their profile and get connected and networking online!

Crowd shot2   clio

      Noretta giving her Linked In talk!                                    Clio O’Gara

Killarney Convention Centre was one of the sponsors at our Executive PA, Secretary & Admin Forum earlier this year and Clio O’Gara, Chief Marketing Officer, re-iterated their commitment to supporting the new Association. Once the LinkedIn talk had finished, guests were treated to some delicious hot tapas and drinks and continued to network into the night.

Fav crowd shot!   IMG_8797  Food4

The team at Bon Appetit were delighted to support this initiative particularly with so many local companies involved. Guests went away happy with a goodybag sponsored by Killarney Convention Centre with lots of treats for the festive season. It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and we very much look forward to the next one!

Bon Appetit would like to extend their congratulations on the excellent launch of the APAI in November. They have a fabulous offer for our readers to enjoy a 5 course surprise tasting at only €70 per couple in Cleaver East by Oliver Dunne! This is available Sunday to Friday in January and February from 6pm. Some terms and conditions apply.
The offer can be booked via info@cleavereast.ie or by calling 01 5313500 and quoting Zoom In’s P.A Offer. They would be delighted to have the opportunity to quote for any events at either of their two restaurants Bon Appetit and Cleaver East.

KCC Logo (unflattened)

A note from Killarney Convention Centre:
Congratulations to the team at the APAI on an excellent launch. We were delighted to be able to sponsor LinkedIn training on the night to support your professional development objectives.
Killarney Convention centre were delighted to receive Best Business Hotel in 2014 for The Brehon hotel which supports our objectives to exceed the needs of our business travellers and bookers and we hope to welcome you to Killarney in 2015.

For more information see www.apai.ie, www.killarneyconventioncentre.ie, www.bonappetit.ie, or contact aisling@zoomin.ie

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Video of the Executive PA, Secretary & Admin Forum

Exec PA, Sec & Admin Forum


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November Guest Blogger – Natalie Egan

November 2014 Guest Blogger

Natalie Egan, Executive Assistant, Oracle


Often people I meet in my personal life comment on my efficiency.  Usually I smile and tell them that it’s an occupational hazard.  As an Executive Assistant with a career spanning 14 years (and counting!), it’s not surprising that my organisational tendencies overflow into my personal life!

Working with multiple Directors in a fast paced, multi-national company has definitely helped me to hone those skills over the years. Supporting one busy stakeholder can be a challenge but supporting multiple stakeholders with heavy workloads, hectic schedules and short notice deadlines is a constant juggling exercise!

In my experience, the only way to keep those balls in the air is with careful planning, setting and managing expectations and flawless communication.  In order for me to effectively support the Directors I work with, I have become a strategic Business Partner.  For me, this means planning ahead in both the short and long term in order to be fully in control of my own workload and to recognise and understand the goals and objectives of my Executives and team.

So that all sounds great in theory but how do I actually put it into practice on a daily basis?

Step 1 – Establishing a clear, effective communication channel.

Whether working with somebody face to face or remotely, clear and regular communication is absolutely key – it’s the foundation of every successful working relationship. This allows you to learn and understand the goals and objectives of your stakeholder and helps you learn how they like to work.

Step 2 – Setting and managing clear expectations.

Once you have established a solid system for communication, this gives you clarity on your Executive’s expectations of you and allows you to discuss those expectations proactively to ensure they are realistic and achievable. Doing this means taking personal accountability for your role and this is critical to your success.  Once you’ve made a commitment to a task or deadline, it’s absolutely essential to follow through.   I can’t stress it enough, always do what you say you will do!!  Of course, when things change, deadlines or tasks may need to be prioritised and reprioritised – as I said before, this is a juggling exercise! In my experience, once you’ve established a reputation for being dependable and in control, it will never be an issue to revisit and change deadlines.

Step 3 – Planning and Execution.

For me this final step is about how I manage my workload, the continuous flow of information from emails, calls and meetings and how I manage the Directors I support.  For many years, this meant endless handwritten to do lists and being a slave to my inbox.  But then I learned how to work smarter, not harder!!

My current system is about using all the available tools in Outlook to make my life easier and help me work in a more efficient way.  Using Outlook tasks to manage my time and actions means I’m no longer driven by an inbox which used to be full of tasks in progress.

Now I finish every day with an empty inbox.  Setting designated time slots for managing email helped to achieve this. Having email open all the time was distracting and made it impossible to complete my to-do list as I was being pulled in different directions based on incoming emails!  Having clear time slots for email meant I gave it my undivided attention and got through it much faster.

So what’s my number one recommendation for managing email?

Never use your inbox as your to do list.

Adopt the 4 Ds approach:  


Once I’ve read an email and decided what needs to be done with it, it’s filed in the relevant folder so it can be retrieved quickly or it’s deleted if I don’t need to keep it. If there’s an action which I don’t need to take care of now, I create a dated task with the relevant details included.  Creating this digital task list in Outlook was invaluable to me. Creating a series of colour coded Categories with matching email folders allowed me to quickly retrieve mails and tasks when needed – I use this approach both for myself and the Directors I support.

There are lots of ideas and opinions out there on how people can work in an organised way.  I can only say that nothing I’d ever tried before worked as well as harnessing the power of Outlook! I’d recommend to anyone needing to work more efficiently to give it a try…I promise that you won’t regret it!

Thanks to Natalie for writing as our Guest Blogger this month – we are very much looking forward to Natalie delivering a workshop on “Outsmarting Outlook for P.As” at the 2015 Exec PA, Secretary & Admin Forum – for more details on the workshop and Forum, click here 

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APAI Evening November 20

Killarney Convention Centre and Oliver Dunne’s Michelin star restaurant, Bon Appétit in Malahide have joined forces to organise a P.A/E.A skills talk and networking evening on Thursday November 20th in Bon Appetit, Malahide, Co. Dublin.

Following the recent initiation of the Administration Professional’s Association of Ireland, this is one of the first events in the Association’s calendar and you are invited to join us! Click here for more ..

Contact aisling@zoomin.ie for more details and to save your place at this free networking event!