A BIT ABOUT – Paula Harding
Paula Harding is an Executive Assistant at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) supporting the senior management team. Paula is also the direct support of Professor Phil Hadfield, Dean of Education who has responsibility for the strategic development of LSTM’s teaching and learning portfolio. Since leaving school in 1990 Paula has progressed from her first role as an office junior to an ambassador of the EA/PA profession. Passionate about encouraging EAs and PAs to discuss their roles and share their knowledge and network, meetingsclub was delighted to spend Time With Paula to find out more about this “Stop-over Scouser.”
How did you become an Executive Assistant at the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine?
I had resigned from my previous role with no job to go to. I originally thought I would have a few weeks off before going back out to look. I had a call from Amy Shillcock of Hays Recruitment who advised me that a temporary role had come up. I wasn’t sure if to go for the interview as I had holidays planned and I didn’t want to mess the client about. However, they confirmed my holidays would be ok and asked me to still go for the interview. I was obviously successful and started working in a temporary capacity. The role I had was extremely interesting, a true PA role as I saw it, and I absolutely fell in love with my profession. In that role I realised that I was good at my job and that I was going to make myself the best assistant that I could. I’m very grateful for that opportunity. I was taken on permanently about 2 years ago and I now manage the Dean of Education.
Who has inspired you most in your career?
It was a lady called Angela Hill. Angela was taking on more of a Project Manager role and her organisation needed to backfill her role. I joined as a temp and I quickly realised that I had a lot to learn from Angela. She spent a lot of her time mentoring me and showing me how she did things. Still today I use techniques that she taught me. I honestly don’t think I would have grown into the PA role without her guidance.
What has been your proudest business moment?
It is the growth as a PA that I am achieving now with the Dean of Education. He really uses me as a strategic assistant and values my contribution. When it works like that it becomes a real partnership. I have held many temporary roles throughout my career and I once worked at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. I often think back to how lucky I was to have had that opportunity. It was similar to my current role in that I work with people who save lives, I don’t think you can get any prouder than that.
If you could work anywhere in the world where would it be?
Honestly, it would be Liverpool. Apart from the Isle of Man, where I was born and grew up, but Liverpool has my heart and I’m proud to be a “stop-over Scouser.”
What are your favourite business use APPs?
Ah, technology! I’m not really a techie to be honest. I love to use an app if someone has told me how it works and what to do etc. However, I’m never the first to be using an app. I love having connections who are techies and I’m quite jealous of how they find it all so easy. When I started work, I didn’t have a PC, I had to use a telex machine and I found that quite cumbersome. We would use a PC to log our workload and you would have to go to the printer room to collect your documents. Funny now to think how things have completely changed. The internet is a game changer isn’t it. So many things we do rely on being able to Google everything. Google is definitely my friend.
Is there a piece of advice you would give your teenage self?
I would tell myself to chill out! To stop worrying about everything. Life would change and I would just need to get on with it, learn and grow.
Name the three items you’d bring to a desert island?
My family/boyfriend (ahhh)
Pen and paper
Is there anything on your bucket list that you haven’t yet done?
I haven’t got one, I like to take each day as it comes. What I am doing is getting myself organised this year. I have lots of ideas and I never seem to be able to get started on them due to being disorganised. I like the idea of a bucket list and maybe I’ll build one as I get more organised. For now, I’m building my foundations.
What would be your last meal?
My Mum’s Sunday dinner.
I just don’t have a favourite book. What I do love is to flick through books and pick out bits and pieces. I get bored quite easily. That’s why I love googling articles on the internet and the articles people share on LinkedIn. Bite sized learning. I always recommend ‘Who Moved My Cheese’ and the follow up book ‘Out of the Maze’. That is probably because they are short reads and I can manage to finish those two. I’d love to write a book, I have so many ideas. Again, due to being disorganised I haven’t got anywhere with it. Maybe I will in the future?