60 seconds with Anne-Marie Honeyman Tafa
Anne-Marie is an Executive Assistant based in the RRI.
In this interview, Anne-Marie gives us an insight into the many different aspects of her role working with three PIs, talks about her career path so far, and tells us what she would do if money was no object…
Can you tell us what your role entails as an Executive Assistant?
I work with three Principal Investigators (PIs); Professors Kate Vallis, Nicola Sibson and Dr Alistair Easton, co-ordinating their diaries, booking conferences, arranging travel, visas, insurance, preparing itineraries, booking meetings/rooms and so on. I am a reference point for their offices and coordinate with internal and external sources on their behalves. In addition, I help with admin for their scientific teams including personnel matters, visitors, PDRs, completing the Researchfish and Symplectic database information and provide grant application support.
As well as the ongoing administrative tasks above, I supervise another Personal Assistant (PA) in the RRI, overseeing their training and workload. I also organise lots of internal and external meetings/symposia and support one-off projects my PIs are working on. This year I’m organising a small international symposium. In a nutshell I try to ensure my PIs have everything they need to do their own jobs and minimising the time they need to spend on administrative tasks.
What are the most satisfying and the most frustrating aspects of your role?
The most satisfying thing is probably when the PIs acknowledge that they truly appreciate what I have done in terms of time saving by gathering information for them for something. It could be anything from the annual funder reports to ensuring they conform to the Act on Acceptance system or even that I’ve anticipated their travel needs well in advance and given them lots of options so they can plan well ahead. Simple but time consuming tasks which they don’t have to perform, it means they can concentrate on what they call the important stuff!
Frustrating aspects would be when they have to change their plans and you’ve spent a long time organising things, but it’s all part of the job, you have to be able to react to their evolving priorities and schedules.
What’s currently at the top of your to do list?
To create some new record keeping systems. The PIs get asked for what seems like the same information many times throughout the year but it’s always in a slightly different format or has one or two different questions. Anything we can do to help provide this information quickly is really time saving so I’m looking at that and also effective cross cover between PAs.
How did you get to where you are today?
I went a very roundabout route! I always wanted to be a teacher but the training made it clear that wasn’t going to be my future. I was doing an English degree alongside the teaching so I transferred all my teaching modules into a communication studies minor and finished that way. My first job was in quality assurance and regulatory affairs and I was doing some company training one day I got head hunted to run a recruitment agency. From there I started my own recruitment company and ran that for a while but I missed working in a big organisation so I started looking for PA work. I’ve worked in and around the University and Colleges since I was 16 and I’ve been with the Department for 11 years this August.
What inspires you in your work?
I’m usually inspired by making improvements in other people’s working days, whether it be training or system improvement or just a smooth diary week for my PIs. I really enjoy seeing other people enabled to do their jobs because of something I’ve done.
If you weren’t an Executive Assistant, what would you like to be doing?
If I wasn’t an Executive Assistant and money was no object I would love to run a small luxury cabin business on a lakeside with boat rental and bike hire.