Con questo speciale JOB news accogliamo un ospite internazionale. Le nostre International Ambassadors, Carla Stefanut e Daniela Fasano, hanno intervistato l’EA, Expert Trainer e motivational speaker e coach Laura Belgrado. Leggete la sua storia e venite a conoscerla di persona al Secretary JOB di Milano!
Shall we start with a little back ground: where are you from, your experience and current role.
I was born and raised in Belgium in a town called, Wemmel, about 2km away from the famous Atomium in Brussels. Since childhood I was fascinated by languages and travelling and without realizing I have been networking since childhood, always keeping track of people I met and what they could possible mean to me in the near future be it for my hobbies or later on for my career. I studied Business administration and Languages but my career started off in Travel & Tourism working at the Sheraton Brussels in international sales. Four years later I was on a plane to Orlando, Florida, where I was offered a job as U.S. Representative for the biggest (at the time) Belgian Tour operator specializing in travel and organized group travel to the U.S. I was 23 at the time and it was the start of a great adventure.
It was not always easy but I have learned so much along the line and spent a total of 9,5 years living in Orlando but travelling all over the U.S. and Canada as a Tour Manager and going to large Travel fairs to negotiate new Hotel and Vendor contracts. In 1997 my husband and I returned to Belgium.
My career continued working for a Belgian Destination Management as a Senior Account Executive organizing large scale Conferences and Incentives. I became tired of the Travel industry and decided to leave my job without really knowing where my next opportunity would be. I was approached by a recruiter, offering me a Role as Executive Assistant at Microsoft Corp. in Brussels. At first I was quite worried the job would be too boring and not challenging enough. Well, the job changed my life forever in the good sense. Being an Executive Assistant in a global corporation allowed me to implement all my experience as event organizer and project planner and it was the start of an incredible career change and I discovered that this was possibly the coolest, most challenging and exciting job I had ever done. I started to speak at conferences as an EA and that is when my passion for my training & coaching started to grow. I took the opportunity to start my own consultancy and started to write and create my workshop & training materials doing a lot of research and spending time to think what we as Assistants really need as far as training & coaching is concerned. It was definitely very difficult to survive as an independent but I never gave up and kept my focus on the positive and finding ways to survive and move forward. In January of 2015, I was offered a contract job at Mars Belgium working 12 hours a week as EA.
I needed stability again in my life as I had a few very difficult personal years both health and financially. But the most important reason why I was so excited to step back into a full time EA role was to continue improving and innovating my Trainings and Workshops that I continue to do. That was the deal I made with my current managers and they are very supportive of my quest to continue my passion to create awareness around our Role as Assistants but also to share my experience and knowledge how we can develop ourselves further how we can feel empowered and realize what a great job we have as EA/PA.
In which occasions an EA may happen to speak in public?
There are many opportunities for the EA/PA to speak in public including speaking during Team meetings, your Personal Development Review, is also a speaking opportunity that is often forgotten about how important this is. When working with a global team or a team that does not see each other very often, the EA can take the opportunity to address the team during the team meetings. Many Assistants I know started speaking in Schools for students studying to become the next generation of EA’s and PA’s – this is so exciting and rewarding to do to empower the young students and to make them realize what a great career lies ahead of them.
Why do you think is important for EA to strive and master public speaking?
It is important for any EA/PA to strive to master public speaking because it is becoming more and more part of our Role – communicate to our colleagues, teams to our Managers in the form of speaking be it during Team meetings or at events. It is a moment where you can prepare for and take the opportunity when everyone from the team comes together to present them what you are ‘doing’ and working on as an EA/PA. You can resolve many outstanding communication issues by thinking about it putting it on a short clear PowerPoint moreover, presenting it to your team & managers. I guarantee you that they will look at you in a different light, as we often are invisible in our Roles as to what we do. Public speaking at events for Assistants or at schools will allow you to grow within your Role regardless of the years of experience. I have encourage many Senior Assistants to start Public Speaking to share their incredible knowledge and years of experience which comes to value so much more when they share it.
You are an internationally recognized speaker in training events all around the world. What do you think are the most required skills for EA in the global economy?
Executive level Communication skills are so needed for the EA. We need to work on development our Communication skills using our experience, knowledge but also to become more Assertive to state ‘this is who I am, this is what I need and these are the skills I have’. Be more prepared when approaching your Managers or when you work on your personal development. Take time and get help or support to prepare for your next Personal Development review as our future goals and objectives are so very important for our Managers and HR department to realize and see that in our Role of Assistants we also continue to learn and grow and we require adequate training as well.
And how do you see the future development of the role of EA the global economy?
The skills we now really need to focus on more is to be more of a strategic Business partner to our Managers. The Role is changing rapidly and we need to continuously learn and grow. Technical Skills and knowing Social Media are also key in today’s role as EA’s. Travel management will become less and less as we are getting newer and more efficient Applications that towards the future, they will be able to book their travel quite easily just via their Application. So we need to start ‘today’ to re-think our Ways of Working and the skills we need to enhance to keep our Roles effective.
The Role of the EA/PA will not disappear but it will become very different – they will require more and more highly developed and skilled Assistants to function as business partners that help the Manager(s) think in a more efficient way towards their business goals and objectives.
Una testimonianza che ci spiega bene cosa significa essere assistente al giorno d’oggi e un percorso lavorativo intenso che l’ha portata a ricoprire il ruolo che più ama e che le ha cambiato la vita.
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