Personal Assistants: they are the heart of the organisation and arguably the lifeline of the Managers they’re supporting. From diary management, to making key decisions and helping others out – a Personal Assistant practically keeps the whole business afloat. Andrea Zick, Personal Assistant to the General Manager at OXO, shares what her role is all about and what a day in her life is like: “I am the one who is able to locate Nick about 75% of the time!”
Tell us about your background?
I actually have a background in nutrition. I did a Bachelor’s in Nutrition and Health, worked as a freelance nutritionist and had my nutrition research published. I also have a hospitality background: I did a Chef apprenticeship in Germany and worked for many years as a chef in the kitchen, such as at the Four Seasons Park Lane. I was also the Assistant Spa Manager in the Wyndham Grand Hotel and a Sales Executive in the Bulgari Spa. I then became PA to the General Manager at OXO.
What’s your job role all about?
I see myself as the extension of Nick, our General Manager. I am his ears, eyes, voice, hands, and maybe also mind at times. A few regular things I do include: compiling weekly reports for OXO, looking after the linen orders, reviewing Tripadvisor comments, managing our partnership and registration with the Sustainable Restaurant Association, dealing with alleged food poisoning cases, looking after the VIP card holders, coordinating relevant communications, suggesting new rewards, organising and taking notes at meetings, managing Nick’s diary, supporting the HR team with day to day staff requests, looking after any charity activities and working on projects. I pretty much do anything and everything as you can see!
What was the application process for Personal Assistant like?
After sending in my application through the Caterer (in which I announced that I would be “cracking” with a list of arguments), I had two interviews. I remember being 30 minutes early for my first interview (German style) and spending a while sitting in the bright and sunny bar at 10am on a winter's morning observing people. Everyone had a smile on their face whilst working and I instantly connected with the space. OXO made me feel at home and appreciated even before I had accepted their offer!
What does a day look like for you from start to finish?
When I get in at 9 am I walk the floor to say hello and get a feel of what’s going on, as well as sense the energy for the day. I also check my emails first thing and review social media/Tripadvisor feedback and news. By 11 am I send the linen orders to our suppliers and will have worked on various tasks. I may have meetings throughout the day and always have a lot of people coming to see me with questions and requests so no day is quite the same. I am also the one who is able to locate Nick about 75% of the time!
What’s the most rewarding and most challenging thing about your job?
Rewarding are the people I work with and the fact that I can be of value by helping them. I also like that some of the things I do really help to make a positive difference, such as sustainability initiatives, charity work and engaging staff. Most challenging is making colleagues get things done and to get them to digest/read/know everything I like them to know.
What skills are important to succeed in a Personal Assistant role?
People say being organised, but I would say a very good memory, creativity and the ability to connect with people are way more important!
What have you got planned in your role?
Creating a plastic reduction strategy for OXO and preparing another charity event along the lines of last year’s World Mental Day Walk.
Where do you see your career taking you in 5 years?
I would love to help Harvey Nichols become a more sustainable business and work for the business in a CSR role one day…