Real EAs of Wellington: Episode Five – Chantel Abbott
We’ve been a while between episodes here on the Real EAs channel, these talented people are just a bit busy doing awesome things! However the wait is over and you can expect to see a few more of our local executive support stars profiled on the Madison blogosphere in upcoming weeks. In this week’s edition, I had the pleasure of talking to Chantel Abbott.
Chantel, tell us about your pathway to becoming an Executive Assistant (EA)?
I started off my career at the age of 19 in a small diamond mining town in Namibia. I was fresh out of completing a diploma and I got a temporary assignment as EA to the Chief Financial Officer for a month. While I was working there, the position of EA to the Chief Executive (CE) came up, but the CE, Keith, happened to be on leave and the person acting in the position thought I was too young. When Keith returned from leave he thought I would be a good fit and gave me the job! I did veer off the EA pathway for a good number of years, where I did market analysis and marketing, but I missed the role way too much and I’m back in the saddle again.
What’s your funniest or most embarrassing moment as an EA?
I was accompanying the CE and our company Chair to one of the diamond dredging ships out at sea. We were in a small helicopter and when we landed, my shoe got stuck under the seat while I was trying to disembark. I had both the CE and Chair trying to rescue me from falling on my face while I dislodged my foot. Not very graceful!
What’s been the biggest challenge in your career?
There have been two – my first role as an EA had me proving from day one that an inexperienced 19-year-old could do the job well, with a team of nine (older, more experienced) PAs looking on. The other was juggling two small children with a full time EA role and getting my degree part time.
Who do you admire and why?
It’s not one person, but an organisation, and that would be Greenpeace. Without the people who work for this organisation fighting for the rights of animals and our environment, there would be less awareness across the globe. While most of us believe and support these causes from the comfort of our couch, Greenpeace activists are the ones actually out there doing something, and sometimes even putting their lives at risk.
If you could do any other job in the world, what would it be?
It would be something in the medical field, possibly research.
If you could rewind 10 years and give yourself a piece of advice, what would it be?
Remain calm. If the wheels start to fall off, just focus on what you can do to set the wobble straight and don’t let anyone ruffle your feathers in the process. If panic sets in, it makes it difficult to get things back under control.
What’s the best piece of advice that’s helped you in your career?
Don’t have regrets and, also, choose the path less travelled. I deviated from my EA career twice – once to do marketing and once to do credit insurance. Each of them gave me tools that I have been able to bring back to my EA role – try anything once.
What’s your favourite piece of work wardrobe?
My black blazer, which I keep behind my office door. Very convenient if I have to dress up my outfit for a surprise visitor.
Where is the best place in Wellington to get a coffee/drink?
A glass of cold Sav Blanc anywhere along Queens’ Wharf.
If you were not living in Wellington – where would you be and why?
I would be in the Coromandel running a B&B. I love people and what’s not to love about the Coromandel?