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In 2018, Karine Green joined Magrabi Retail as an Executive Assistant to the CEO. Since then, she has grown into the role of a Business Manager providing personal and corporate support to the CEO and business support to the CFO. As you can imagine, the range of work Karine manages daily is hugely varied, from managing personal travel-related and social engagements to office management, board agendas and meeting minutes, to name a few.
Komal Pamwani, a Senior Consultant responsible for recruiting Secretarial and Office Support positions in the Middle East at Michael Page, interviewed Karine to understand the factors critical to her career progression and how she successfully navigates multiple senior stakeholders, different priorities and wide-ranging tasks, on a daily basis.
Karine: I generally try to split my day into three parts: I spend the first part of the day ‘fire-fighting’, completing quick or urgent tasks, basic admin work, checking my inbox, making calls and managing diaries. In the second part of my day, I focus on work that requires more planning and concentration. And for the third and final part of my day, I look at ‘future’ tasks such as logistics, following up on tasks, checking and firming up plans, etc.
Final third – looking ahead – checking all plans, diaries, logistics, tasks etc etc for the next day and next couple of days, reconfirming, following up, double checking etc
But I always plan my week with contingency time; often things come up that can take over my whole day or entire morning, so I’m constantly rejuggling and reprioritising my workload, based on the changing needs of the CEO and CFO and the company. And I always work from a to do list!
Karine: To be successful in this role, you must be flexible, it’s pretty much 24/7 role, but there is also give and take. There are days, evenings, and weekends where there is constant work, but then there is also quieter period, so there’s a nice balance. Having just returned from maternity, I need to factor my child into my days. My line managers and the organisation have been amazingly supportive, allowing me to work flexibly from home and the office. Of course, I have to be available at the right time to perform my role effectively, but I can manage my work around my home life too.
Karine: I’ll give you my top four most important skills!
Karine: I think upskilling and learning is important for any role, so you can continually improve what you do to provide the best level of service and performance. In the wake of the pandemic, the talent market is virtual and global, so the competition for jobs will always be high. Your PDP should be built around your long-term career aspirations and what you discuss and agree with your Line Manager - some view the EA role as a stepping-stone to a larger role, others want to excel at it and become top of their game. I learn something new every day in this role, I’m always keeping a list of how to do something better next time, creating standards and blueprints for the future.
Karine: My performance is measured as part of the annual performance management cycle - the objectives set at the start of the year, and performance against them assessed mid-year and end-of-year. A % is based on company performance, but majority on the tiered rating system of self-assessment and feedback from my Line Managers. Personally, I consider in-the-moment feedback just as important and valuable.
In terms of communicating results more widely, a big part of the EA role is to work quietly behind the scenes, making everything happen seamlessly and smoothly; if I am not performing well, things would grind to a halt, and mistakes and underperformance would be obvious, therefore I think efficiency and success is inherent in my day-to-day performance and at key moments.
Karine: This role is a critical gatekeeper role, balancing the needs of the senior leadership team (SLT) with the priorities and availability of my Line Managers. Without this role, there would be a huge bottleneck of requests and scheduling, and the volume of requirements would outweigh their capacity. I’m constantly balancing priorities (both business and personal) with urgency, importance, and capacity and so it’s a constant juggling of time and tasks, and assessment of how to make the impossible possible. But, as I mentioned earlier, it’s about building relationships with team members, outside networks and SLTs, so they can approach me, feel they can work with me and that I’m doing my best for all parties to make things happen. Being honest, having the courage to say no, and challenge the norm/think outside the box, are some of the other factors that can determine your success. To summarize:
You can also watch the interview with Karine Green which is featured as part of our Successful Journeys – Middle East series.
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Michael Page International (UAE) Limited, Registration No. 0207 a DIFC registered company. Al Fattan Currency House Tower -1. Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)., Office No. 202, Dubai,