In celebration of International Women's Day we wanted to shine the spotlight on some of the wonderful creatives we have amongst us here at UKFCP.
People with different backgrounds and experience make up a collective hive of extraordinary ideas and are what make an organisation flourish.
Nicole is our National Support Centre Deputy Team Leader for Community Outreach since January 2021. She has been assisting our Southeast and East Asian communities in Scotland.
In addition, Nicole is also a very creative entrepreneur from Singapore and a third-year MA Linguistics & Social Anthropology undergraduate at University of Edinburgh.
Having embarked on various creative roles & internships, The Inkwell Collective is Nicole’s first solo venture into the industry.
Can you tell us a bit about what you have been working on this year?
Established in January 2021, I've been spearheading a digital-first content marketing agency, with a focus centered on elevating creatives & ethical brands with powerful storytelling.
What inspired you to start this creative venture?
I've always enjoyed roles which allowed me to create content— regardless written or graphic, especially when it meant I could provide a voice to others who might not have one. In the midst of the pandemic, it suddenly dawned on me that I could harness the resources & time I have to build something concrete out of my passion... and I did.
What has this challenge taught you about yourself?
While I admit it isn't an easy task juggling many commitments at once, I think the enjoyment & autonomy I receive from working with like-minded, empathetic clients truly overrides that. I've had the pleasure of meeting many amazing individuals along the way and hearing their stories— some of which have extremely inspiring motives behind their startups!
My Lee Pratt
My Lee is Executive Assistant to our Chair. In her successful career, she has been a highly regarded executive assistant and in different managerial roles. My Lee has recently joined UKFCP to contribute further to the society via this meaningful way with us.
Having worked closely with industry leaders over the years, with her Vietnamese background, My Lee is also passionate for supporting future generations of Southeast and East Asian professionals.
Why did you become an Executive Assistant (EA)? What has been most challenging for you and how have you overcome them?
I love being an EA because no two days are the same. I have done other management roles but I have reverted back to what I love doing the most!
I love the flexibility to plan my own workload, as long as the job gets done, the responsibility of supporting the board and the level of knowledge and skills that I have achieved that can be used in different business areas, also being able to work in any industries that I want which I am really grateful for.
Most importantly, making a difference and adding a value to someone’s work-life.
As for what has been most challenging for me, I would say … dealing with difficult / awkward people! With my experience, I have learned not to fly off the handle!
Most of the time, I would pick up the phone and speak to that person directly! Not to challenge but have a genuine conversation and also to make sure that he or she is OK as we don’t know what has happened and like everyone else, we all have bad days! This approach always works as I know that the person did not mean to offend.
What is your greatest achievement in your career?
When I was asked to be involved in a major, sensitive and non disclosure / confidential project on behalf of the CEO for British Telecommunications Plc over 12 years ago. I was recognised for my contribution and was invited to a celebration event which was held at the BT Tower in London which was a privilege as this icon building is not open to the employees or the general public as it can only gain access by special invitations.
At the event, I had at least two glasses of champagnes ( I don’t drink usually ) and would sneak off after a few hours to catch the early train home, that was about 2.30pm in the afternoon!
What do you think are the most important qualities for an EA?
My biggest top two would be –
1. Be approachable, treat everyone as equals and with respect.
2. High level of emotional intelligence - I strongly believe that this is super power! This power of anticipation requires an EA being able to see ahead and prevent issues that could develop into real problems and being able to solve them before they land on your Leader’s desk and also knows what her leader thinks.
What is it like being able to contribute professional skills for the benefit of the society through our civic society organisation (UKFCP)? What was it like working with our chair?
It is an honour to be able to help such a great society, to be able to add value and make a difference.
Our chair, can I narrow my list down to my top three –
1. Always smiles!
3. Very supportive
What are the similarities and differences from working as EA in a corporate environment?
There are more rules and with probably hundreds of processes in place in a corporate environment, there are also lots of hoops you have to jump through to get anything done. At a smaller establishment, it feels like a family.
Any advice for professionals who are interested in becoming EA?
Being an EA is not just looking after diaries and doing other basic admin work. You are also a Strategic Partner, a Professional Problem Solver and a Trusted Confidant.
To stand out as an EA, you have to be proactive. Stay up to date with the latest handy technology tools and have Advanced Microsoft Office skills. Widen your horizons via online courses such as Project Management, Data Analysis and participate in conferences, add value where possible.
Observe your own Leaders’ skills and qualities and also learn how they operate. Don’t tell them! Not many people have the privilege of working closely with their Leaders and one of the joys of being an Assistant is that you see leadership in action at very close quarters so take advantage! Network and add value! Work collaboratively with other Assistants and colleagues, be willing to share your knowledge and successes will help build your influence.