10 minutes with… Julie Monkley, Executive Assistant

How long have you worked at Smart Solutions?

I have worked at Smart Solutions for more than five years, joining the business in October 2012. Before that, I worked at Lloyds TSB for 13 years initially working part-time as an administration officer in the insurance department and rising through the ranks in the claims section. I then took a secondment for six months as a personal assistant to the finance director and I didn’t look back. I worked in that position for five years before taking on a new challenge at Smart Solutions.

What experience do you bring to the company?

The executive assistant to the CEO of Smart Solutions, Nathan Bowles, requires a variety of skills – it’s a very diverse position and I often find myself spinning quite a few plates at the same time, so to speak.

I pride myself on my high level of integrity – I’m fortunate to be employed in a role where I’m exposed to confidential and sensitive information, for example I attend the monthly senior management meetings, which means I am privy to company-wide information from finances, HR, client management and business planning. But the basics of my job are strong organisational, communication and time management skills, without which, it would be difficult to get anything done at all. I am also experienced in building positive relationships with internal and external clients.

Describe a typical day in the life of an executive assistant at Smart Solutions.

In this role, there are typical tasks, but never a typical day. Every day begins by checking my e-mails to ensure that the day ahead is planned, or at least as planned as can be. Some of the commitments I organise for Nathan can be very fluid and subject to last minute changes, which is to be expected, of course, when you’re running a £100 million turnover business with operations throughout the UK.

My daily and weekly priorities can change rapidly as it depends on whatever is going on at that moment in time, more especially if something is business and time critical. However, a typical example of day could involve planning large events, making travel arrangements or even developing a presentation.

Do you have a Smart career highlight?

I don’t have a specific career highlight where I can refer to a point in time, but I do consider the role that I have at Smart Solutions a highlight of its own.

I am involved in so many aspects of the business, it has really helped me to develop my knowledge base, from compliance and processes, to marketing and PR. I often have colleagues asking for my input or opinion, and I sometimes surprise myself in the answers I’m able to give and that is down to the level of exposure I have been fortunate to have working in this fast-growing business. I don’t pretend to know everything – far from it – but I have really enjoyed developing my industry knowledge, and it’s fascinating to learn about how some of the different sectors we work in, from waste and recycling to manufacturing, operate.

You have 140 characters on your work Twitter profile. Describe yourself.

Ultra-loyal, conscientious EA with a proven track record. Hardworking, friendly, and approachable with excellent interpersonal skills.

How do you deal with a challenge?

My view is very simple: it’s got to be sorted and I won’t finish until it is done. It’s a mentality that’s always worked for me. Strangely, I enjoy the unexpected things that come my way as they often require a response that encourages me to work in different ways.

When you’re not at work, what do you enjoy doing?

I love to be out with friends.

I used to regularly attend Royal Ascot but now I go to the ‘King George Weekend’ at the end of July – it still involves wearing glamorous outfits and hats and, of course, a little bit of horse racing too.

I find that, so long as I don’t listen to my husband, I don’t fare too badly on the winnings. I tend to go for the colour or the name, while he will study them intently – but, more often than not, it’s me that ends up with the winnings.

Tell us something people mightn’t know about you?

In 2011, I won the Welsh PA of the Year award. It was such a brilliant experience; just to be nominated was a fantastic feeling in itself, knowing that my work was recognised and that I was considered worthy of the title.

I was presented with a beautiful award and a weekend away in the London at the Crowne Plaza – we stayed in the presidential suite. As part of the prize, I was also funded to complete a £5,000 executive diploma course, which looked at different aspects of minute taking, excel and other software packages used in a personal assistant role.