My name is Chandra Severin and I am the executive assistant (EA) to the CEO and Publisher of The Globe and Mail. I have worked as an EA off and on throughout my career, but after working in the fashion industry for years and having my second child, I decided to come back to the role of EA. One of the main reasons is that I have always found the role to be both challenging and rewarding with endless room to grow and learn. The EA role puts you in a unique position where you get to work closely with decision makers and be privy to a lot of information. It is the perfect role to learn about an industry and gain new skills every day. But what I love most about my role as an EA is that I am treated as a trusted advisor and partner to my CEO and it’s up to me how far I choose to take my career.
- How do you lead by example?
- I try to lead by example in everything I do. I am an extremely motivated and ambitious person who enjoys taking on new tasks and getting people involved. I truly believe everyone has something to offer and we do better as a team where everyone gets to contribute. I always come to the table with ideas and suggestions and am more than willing to take the lead and get people excited about a project. I also ask a lot of questions and listen to what the people around me are saying. I am willing to admit when I don’t have the answers and ask for help when needed. However, I am also willing to make the tough decisions and try to do so with diplomacy and tact.
- How do you build strong relationships with internal and external stakeholders?
- Talking and getting to know people has always come naturally to me. I have a genuine interest in people and in building relationships and expanding my network. One of the key skills that helps me build strong relationships is my confidence and willingness to learn. I understand that relationships are two-way streets and that I will only get out of them what I am willing to put in. When speaking with internal or external stakeholders I do my best to listen and speak with respect and confidence and try to understand what the other person is looking for and how I can help.
- Why is individual branding important?
- Having a unique and strong personal brand is vital to me both personally and professionally. No matter the industry I work in, I am always conscious of what my brand says about me and how I stand out from the crowd. My personal style and work ethic are unique to me and I try my best to be authentic in everything I do. I never try to blend in or fade into the background, but prefer to stand out, speak my mind and show the confidence I have in my skills and myself.
- What best practice do you feel other EAs would benefit from adopting?
- I think one of the key things an EA can do is to attend as many company events as they can. I like to know all I can about my organization and believe constant learning and growing can only help me. Attending company events, whether it’s a social event, seminar, course or fundraiser gives me an opportunity to meet people from across the organization and let others get to know me as well. As an EA, you are a representative of your CEO, but you are also a contributing member of your organization. The more people you know, and the more you understand about your company will only benefit you and make your role as an EA that much easier.