Interview with Nona Henti, the Workshop’s Facilitator
MD: Tell me about yourself and how the idea of this workshop cropped up!
NH: I am a graduate of foreign languages and I have a long experience of working as a personal assistant in a multinational corporation. Not only did I enjoy every minute of it, but it brought me full satisfaction and rewarding appraisals. Throughout all those years I strove to excel in my job and every time I encountered small issues I had to deal with them by myself as I discovered there were no specialized books or training for this job. Therefore, I had to read a lot of books and make a lot of research that I put into practice and kept in my mind and archives. This is how the idea of this course came up, based on the desire to share all my knowledge and experience, but mainly with the aim to help others improve their competencies and performance. Actually, the title of the workshop is “Personal Assistant – how to excel in your job?”
MD: What do you think are the top 10 challenges the Personal Assistant encounters at work?
NH: I would say there are probably more than 10, but the main challenge is time management, prioritization. The workshop addresses this issue and many more others.
MD: Which are the main aspects you are focusing on during your workshops?
NH: The workshop deals with several important aspects such as redefining and analyzing the competencies required for the job (managing regular tasks – phone calls, emails and correspondence, receiving guests, organizing event, office etiquette, dress code, language, communication).
Besides, it focuses on time management, prioritization, persuasive communication through social styles, managing upwards, becoming a factor of influence.
The workshop is an intensive educational experience, active, participatory, and allows everyone personal attention and the chance to be heard. It contains varied activities and exercises, with supporting materials (examples, statistics and quizzes).
MD: Are there skills that cannot be taught / learned? I mean, are there also natural traits you have to be “born” with to do the job at its best?
NH: A personal assistant should be energetic, patient, calm, well-organized, communicative and discreet. Not everyone has these ‘qualities’, but most of them can be taught or acquired with time and through experience so as to become a second nature and a basis for new ones.
This workshop enables the assistants to analyze their qualities and how fit they are for the job, but also gives them hints about how to improve or ‘educate’ their personal character traits.
MD: Why do you deliver your workshops on-site?
NH: Not only for the comfort of the trainees, but mainly because it is a good opportunity to analyze their working environment which is an important factor of well-being and achieving performance.
MD: What one foremost advice do you have for a Personal Assistant? What about one main advice for the Executive with regard to her/his professional relationship with her/his Assistant?
NH: Throughout the ups and downs of the job, a personal assistant should keep in mind the reasons why she/he was chosen for the job. This means the boss trusts in her/him and values her/his qualities. Therefore, they should keep up the good work, the good trust, and strive to improve.
On the other hand, a boss should inspire trust, admiration and respect. There is, consequently, work to be done on their side too!
MD: How would you sum up the contents of the workshop?
NH: The subtitle of the workshop is “Personal Assistant between A thing worth doing is worth doing well and Nobody notices what I do until I don’t do it”.
Cover Photography © Flavia Dobraca