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Hi, I'm James.

Executive Assistant in the Leadership Support Centre and painter, Cardiff

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My journey so far…

I was born and bred in Bridgend, which is close to Cardiff. After studying History at Cardiff University, I was a lecturer for a while, before becoming a student support officer. I really enjoyed working with people in that pastoral role, but soon realised I wanted to do more. I’d heard about a charity for disabled children in Wales that was struggling to stay afloat, so I made the decision to leave my job and volunteer as a fundraiser. With the support of a team, we turned the charity around, and helped them to avoid closure. Once they were back on their feet, I was made business development officer.

I absolutely loved my job there, but unfortunately I had to leave when my father became unwell. He was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer and needed a full-time carer at home. It was really challenging because there isn’t a lot of support for carers. You get sent home from hospital with a few leaflets and have to try and make it work. After two years he started a new medication and his condition began to stabilise. He no longer needed as much care, so I started looking for a job. When I discovered Deloitte, I’ll admit I’d never heard of them. But after reading up on the firm’s values, I knew I’d love it. I was really attracted to the ethos around diversity and inclusion, as well as the support they give to charities though the 5 Million Futures project. I was delighted to get the role of Executive Assistant in 2021.

I’m passionate about mental health, wellbeing and helping others. I support people through my work as an Executive Assistant and my role as a wellbeing advocate.

Work that matters

In my current role, I provide support to a dedicated group of around 12-15 directors, looking after everything from diary management to travel support and much more. It’s something I’ve always relished in my previous roles, so I knew I’d have the right transferable skills for the job. I love being able to work across all areas of the business with some incredibly talented and lovely people. For me it was an opportunity to carry on helping people, which has always brought me a sense of purpose.

Outside of my main role, I’m also a buddy for others joining Deloitte. I found it really helpful to have that support when I first joined, so I’m glad I can now offer that back to others in return. I also run training sessions for other EAs and I’m part of an internal mental health committee, which looks at ways we can support the wellbeing of our wider executive assistant community. There’s so much support available for mental health at Deloitte, from online hubs, online tools to a 24-hour support line. I use our committee to raise awareness about what we offer and encourage people to make use of these services, if and when they might need them.

As well as the amazing people I get to work with, I enjoy the variety and flexibility of my role. We have a hybrid working model, which gives me the chance to balance my career around the additional support that my dad needs at home. I’ve had the opportunity to grow in the direction I want, which I also really appreciate. Everyone is recognised for their hard work and encouraged to learn and try new things.

Highlights from my week

Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday
I attended a training session for a newly revamped system we’re going to start using. I’d previously found it difficult to get my head around, but the training showed just how useful this new tool will be.
A director had a last-minute flight cancellation and needed to get a new one very quickly, which I arranged. It’s good to know I can help them out in a tough spot.
Every Wednesday our team goes into the office which I really enjoy. I like that I can work from home and help my dad out, but it’s also nice to have some face-to-face time with my team and get to know the new joiners.
I ran a training session through the EA Academy for the new intake of executive assistants. It’s such a great experience, and I enjoy meeting and talking to people from across different UK offices. Each time I deliver the event I get valuable feedback, and I really enjoy customising it to make it better for the next time.
I got to speak to my ‘buddy’ in another team. It’s amazing to see how quickly he’s developed in his role. I finish on time, giving me plenty of time to pack for the Muse gig I’m travelling to this weekend.

My weekend looks like

Outside of work, I’m an avid painter of landscapes. It’s really relaxing, and always handy when you don’t know what to give someone for a birthday gift. I don’t sell my paintings so it’s just a lovely escape - I don’t have to worry about how they might turn out. When I’m painting, I find the rest of the world just melts away. I also love exploring ancient ruins and National Trust sites on the weekends. I think that stems from my early career as a history lecturer. And who doesn’t love a gift shop?

3 things I've learned

Always be kind to yourself and remember your wins

You can have a day where you did 50 tasks, 49 that went well and one that went badly. In the past I’ve been guilty of being too harsh on myself. I think it’s really important to celebrate our wins and elevate them above the things that might have gone wrong.

Never be embarrassed to ask for help

It’s easy to worry about bothering people when they’re busy, but in reality they’re there to help. Whether it’s help with your wellbeing or a work task, my advice would always be to ask. Embarrassment around mental health sometimes stops people asking for help, but it’s one of the bravest things you can ever do.

Always look for the next steps

If you’re enjoying your work, it’s good to expand on things you’re passionate about. I love teaching so I spoke to my people leader and now I am delivering training to other EAs in the business. We spend so much time in work, it’s important we enjoy what we do.

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James' documentary recommendation

Paul Merson: Football, Gambling and Me

"I really enjoyed this documentary because it gives such an honest account of addiction. The programme showed that despite being an incredible footballer, Paul Merson was deeply unhappy and experienced problems with drinking and gambling. Documentaries like these prove that mental health challenges can happen to anyone, no matter how much money and success you have. It’s always brave to speak up about it, and this documentary emphasises that."