Getting to know Claire

Claire Bartlett is a font of corporate know-how and experience, known best for her ability to work with directors of large teams looking to improve efficiency and profitability. Here she shares a typical day in her world.

Claire joined The Passionate PA in January 2018 after a high-flying career with an investment bank. She has proven herself to be an exceptional strategic partner with commercial focus; Business Development and Strategy are her forte. Meticulously organised and detail-orientated in everything (yes, everything!), Claire is known for her infectious laugh and can-do attitude.

Getting to know Claire

Alarm goes off at:
6.30am

Start the day with:
Coffee and checking Rightmove to give me a daily fix for one of my life’s passions – property! Then it’s reviewing the calendar for the day ahead. I always document the top three things that I need to achieve that day and try to get the most challenging one completed first. This gives me a sense of achievement and motivates me for the day ahead.

Where do you do most of your work?
Pre-Covid, it was an 80/20 split with the majority of my time spent face to face with my clients. Currently, its about 50/50 but I’m working up to getting out there more as this is when I can really get under the skin of my clients’ businesses and identify opportunities for improvement.

What sectors do your clients operate within?
Currently my clients are in management training and I also work with a fast-growing CEO and Managing Director level peer networking group.

Best part of your work:
Seeing the relief on my clients’ faces when I start taking the pressure off and organising projects and tasks for them. I love taking the lead when clients just don’t have the time. I also thoroughly enjoy bringing lessons from my prior corporate experience to the table and offering solutions they may not have considered before. Also, not forgetting the amazing feeling of being my own boss, deciding on the clients I work with and when and, also having that flexibility when I need it the most.

Worst part of your work: 
Finding a happy balance between being the greatest businesswoman I can be and the greatest mum too. I find it so hard to down tools at times, but it is so important to look after yourself to ensure you are the very best you can be. Champagne Friday’s help a lot!

Clients you add most value to:
Two of my current clients are looking to grow their business rapidly over the next few years and I am helping them identify and implement strategic initiatives to move them towards achieving their goals. This is the work that I really love and being part of their Senior Management Teams allows me to challenge ideas together with suggesting different approaches at times. Taking the lead with some of these initiatives greatly reduces the strain on my clients, enabling them to focus on what they are brilliant at knowing that there is a trusted pair of hands helping them along the way.

After work you’ll be:
Since Covid, I’ve taken a hard look at how I spend my personal time. I love nothing more than a walk on the beach with my family – you’ll often find us at Hengistbury Head enjoying pizza on the beach. I love to read, cook and have dinner with friends. Life is so precious, and I love spending time with people that inspire me and lift me up.

Why a franchise with The Passionate PA and not go it alone?
I didn’t want to go out and do this on my own as I love the support of Kate and her guidance and understanding of the role. The other Passionate PAs are invaluable not only in terms of support but in our shared knowledge and experience! I did not appreciate just how well-known our brand was until recently, this has opened so many doors which, had I gone it alone, would not have presented themselves.

What did you do before:
18 years in various management roles at JPMorgan including a four-year stint in Luxembourg. Working on major clients, I was a key player in retaining and turning client relationships around. Management experience, risk and compliance management… big job, fun at the time. But this is rewarding on a very different level.

Favourite drink:
Champagne!

Favourite location for a business meeting:
I really enjoy going to clients’ houses or offices as I believe this enables me to really get to know them and provides valuable insight into their lives. We can tell so much by what’s on someone’s desk or dining table! Otherwise, it has to be The Olive Branch in Wimborne or anywhere with a good, comfy sofa and a delicious lunch.

What are you reading?
“Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway” by Susan Jeffers.

Your guilty pleasure:
A monthly massage with the amazing Fran. Check her out on Instagram!

Favourite hobby/past time:
My new passion is on the water, on a gorgeous boat with a glass of bubbles. Failing that, a good walk at the beach or in the New Forest with my husband and boys.

Most inspirational/influential person in your career:
My Dad. One of the strongest, most intelligent, hardworking and honest businessmen I know. He built a successful company and survived a recession when most local building firms did not. He taught me integrity and respect, and to always go to bed with a clear conscience.

Favourite animal and why:
My cats. Love their independence and calming presence.

Greatest contact/supplier that deserves a plug:
Heidi Roper, View HR. Heidi is not only incredibly knowledgeable and amazing at what she does, but she is so much fun to work with and gets amazing results with the clients that she works with. She has true passion, and it shows.

Your business plan (in one sentence!) for the coming year:
To build strong, trusting, local relationships to ensure that I am the Executive PA of choice for Ringwood and the surrounding area.

You can find out more about Claire by clicking here! Or, pop her an email and make a date to get together for coffee (or champagne?).


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Getting to know Tanya

Tanya Woodland is such a friendly and resourceful person with exceptional experience as Head of Operations at national charities. Grab a coffee and take a couple of moments to get to know Plymouth’s Passionate PA…

Tanya joined us in May 2021 after spending two decades working in the charity sector. Tanya’s aim is to create a fulfilling business for herself using the array of skills and experience she has built up over the years. She understands business and the mindset it takes to achieve incredible things, despite all the challenges.

Getting to know Tanya

Alarm goes off at:
I set one as a safety net only at 7.30am but, I do not need one. We have a young puppy who does the job by 7am without fail!

Start the day with:
3 cups of tea.

Where do you do most of your work?
I am very cognisant that every clients’ business is different, so I am happy to work flexibly either from my home office or any other location. As long as there is tea and wifi, we are go!

What sectors do your clients operate within?
My clients are currently in the charity consultancy arena but I have an operations and retail sector background too. I am also experienced in people management and customer service so my skill set is hugely transferable – I am open to working with any sector if a client and I are a great match for each other. When you know, you know 🙂

Best part of your work:
Working with people who have the freedom to make decisions without any red tape – just a little different from my years with big charities.

Worst part of your work: 
Oh I don’t know. I’m finding working freelance is a joy, if I am not happy at work then I have the autonomy to change things. That is very liberating.

Clients you add most value to:
Entrepreneurs and business owners who need someone to partner with them on business development, ops reviews and event management. I’d love to offer my skills to small or start up charities and charity consultants. And property developers too – I have oodles to offer them!

After work you’ll be:
Walking my fur family on a local beach or on Plymouth Hoe.

Why a franchise with The Passionate PA and not go it alone?
It is an opportunity that allows me to realise my ambition to be self-employed, but as part of a trusted and recognised brand. There is tremendous support and mentoring from the outset and masses of camaraderie across the team. The onboarding process is thorough, the training is extremely comprehensive with an excellent e-learning platform. KateKate Chastey is literally an amazing franchisor; her passion is infectious and her desire for all her team to be a huge success is tangible from the minute you meet her… she had me at ‘hello’.

What did you do before:
I started my career in high street retail, progressing to regional management roles at Cancer Research UK and then into a Head of Operations role at a national animal welfare charity where I was part of the senior leadership team. It was a very rewarding and successful career, but now is the time to create something very different for myself.

Favourite drink:
A lovely glass of red wine, Rioja to be precise!

Favourite location for a business meeting:
Anywhere that overlooks the sea.

What are you reading?
I have about three books on the go, they range from easy readers based on falling in love in Cornwall to reclaiming your true self and finding inner peace.

Your guilty pleasure:
Celebrity gossip.

Favourite hobby/past time:
Live music – give me a festival, friends and a bottle of Rioja and I am one happy lady!

Most inspirational/influential person in your career:
I have never forgotten my very first boss, Mike Max, a regional store manager for BHS Retail. He was extremely influential in shaping my career. He was incredibly open minded and allowed me to work around having a young child which I was incredibly grateful for as a single mother.

Favourite animal and why:
I love all animals, I grew up with horses, cats and dogs around me. I would have to settle on dogs if I had to choose a favourite, they have such beautiful souls. We share our lives with two fabulous doggies – Indie and Barney.

Greatest contact/supplier that deserves a plug:
Beckie Denny at The Charity Spark, my very first client as a Passionate PA. She has been an absolute joy and totally understands the concept of having a business development partner.

Your business plan for the coming year:
I launched my business in June 2021 so my business plan for the coming year is to balance client work with continual investment in my own business development which is vital for the future sustainability of my freelance business.

You can find out more about Tanya by clicking here! Or, give her a call – she does love a natter!


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Kate’s quoted in the Mail Online

I didn’t quite “declare war” – trust the Daily Mail to exaggerate 🤪 – but I’m pleased to be quoted in this article. This is a really important read for all PAs, VAs and freelancers.

In response to over 500 secretaries at Deloitte being told their jobs were at risk last week, the Daily Mail has picked up on the huge wave of PAs and EAs moving into the freelance world due to the difficulties in finding suitable roles for their skill sets, post covid. The article talks about whether the role of the EA is dead and how successful start-up VAs really are.

READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Firstly, we (the whole Business Support industry and recruiters) all need to work harder to educate the business community and news reporters on the difference between a Secretary, VA, PA and EA. But I’ll leave that for another blog!

Secondly, making a successful career out of freelancing is not easy – this was my point, which has, to some degree, been lost in the article. Becoming a Virtual Assistant just because you’ve lost your job is not the right thing to do. (Note the word ‘just’.)

I have spent over 10 years honing my skills as a freelance PA and helping others carve out successful businesses for themselves too under The Passionate PA brand.

Here’s the reality; being a successful freelancer or VA takes more time, energy, dedication and stamina than most full-time jobs ever do!

Sadly, the ‘quick-fix’ freelancers and VAs that are popping up daily, only to disappear within a few months, are really making it so difficult for the business world to understand the value a professional outsourced business support solution can offer. I appreciate going freelance is sometimes out of desperation. Of course. But sometimes it’s just pure naivety and rose-tinted glasses.

The whole reason I franchised my business was to help talented, ambitious individuals have an easier route into self-employed success. If you’d like to know more, visit our Join Us page.

I’ve heard so many horror stories of business owners trusting start-up freelancers and VAs, investing valuable time and energy into their on-boarding, only for them to quit when they find suitable employment. This leaves the business in the lurch and feeling very burnt by the whole experience.

➡️ My best advice to business owners – if you are serious about using freelancers to help you structure and grow your business, invest in people that make it their business to ensure you succeed. Check out Karen Murray‘s latest podcast where I talk about how to do this.

➡️ My best advice to employees staring down the barrel of unemployment or experiencing job loss – UPSKILL, invest in your own professional development and commercial awareness and really, really, really delve deep into your own values, passions and strengths.

Freelancing and being self-employed is NOT the easy route that so many gurus try to persuade you it is. Only embark on becoming a freelancer when no plan B will do! By that I mean, when your soul is hungry for choice, fulfilment and awesome clients and you are ready and willing to give your new adventure the focus it needs. You need an awesome support network and it you really want to thrive, an experienced, hands-on mentor that will open doors for you and help you navigate the challenges from day 1.

I’m very happy to talk to anyone thinking of doing so who’d love some unbiased and very honest advice.

Kate


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Kate on the Evolve to Succeed Podcast

Listen on Spotify https://spoti.fi/3beyrOZ

Listen on Apple Podcasts https://apple.co/3vTA6Bh

Listen on Google https://bit.ly/3f5ER41

For the first time ever, our Director and Franchisor has spoken publicly about how she came to take over The Passionate PA at just 26, and the effects that choice has had on her as a person.

“Starting a business is never easy, but doing so at just 26 with the weight of the world on my shoulders was probably one of the hardest challenges of my life. It’s a choice that has made me ultimately very happy, but the initial years were a rollercoaster of emotions, challenges, excitement and continuous feelings of not being ‘enough’.”

Kate Chastey was delighted to be asked to talk to Warren Munson, long-time supporter of The Passionate PA. The team at the Evolve to Succeed Podcast did a superb job of creating the finished recording.

Kate said “this was a wonderful opportunity to share my business story and talk so openly with Warren about the things I hold so dear. Creating a life I don’t need a holiday from is 100% my personal definition of success and it was great to discuss that with Warren.”

In this episode, Kate and Warren also talk about:

  • How Kate’s early work experience with an entrepreneurial celebrity shaped her belief in what a PA could be and what she now feels a modern PA should be for entrepreneurs
  • How her early career in advertising agencies helped her learn so much about people, leadership and performance – and gave her the grounding for the leader she is today
  • Kate’s experience of Imposter Syndrome when she took over the business and found herself with very big shoes to fill
  • Our route into franchising with Kate’s ‘build it as we go’ approach and her fierce commitment to the people that choose to partner with her as Passionate PAs
  • How Kate’s father influenced her view of corporate life and financial security, and to this day still thinks she should get a ‘proper job’
  • And, of course, how all this has effected Kate’s personal life and given her a truly unique mantra to live by… “Create a life you don’t need a holiday from.”

“My definition of success is being able to enjoy every single day whilst adding real value to the people around me. It’s not about money. Success, to me, is about fulfilment – and understanding that it is all about NOW rather than one day in the future.”

Happy listening.

 


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Trisha Lewis Podcast – Trust who you are

We are so thrilled to share a podcast recorded recently with Trisha Lewis – Communication coach, speaker and author.

Trisha invited Kate to talk about the things she holds most dear; leading with an open heart, the unique and exciting opportunity of franchising and the role of the freelance PA in today’s business world. Oh, and her crazy life on Dartmoor!

Kate and Trisha had an absolute blast recording this, as it evident from the outset. If you want to know more about Kate and how our business is just so different from corporate life – this is the perfect place to start!

Click here to listen

 


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: 

Emily Fuller joins The Passionate PA

PRESS RELEASE: July 2020

Dorset, we’ve got you covered!

The leading freelance PA business, The Passionate PA, welcomed a new face to the team in July which means they now have coverage across the whole county, and beyond.

Emily Fuller - The Passionate PA (Weymouth & West Dorset)Emily Fuller (nee Gollop) has been involved in business since she was old enough to walk as her family ran the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy. She is now a qualified and experienced Human Resources professional having spent 10 years with SMEs and global engineering companies, honing her skills in people management and business strategy.

She joins The Passionate PA as a franchisee covering Weymouth and West Dorset, fulfilling her own ambition to be a business owner but adopting the company’s very clear mission; to assist ambitious business leaders and entrepreneurs in their pursuit for business success. Working in partnership with clients, each Passionate PA offers a unique and valuable set of skills to help create the momentum and results their clients desire. Services range from Business Admin and Organisation to Event Planning and Project Management, right through to Marketing and Business Development activities… there is no end to the skills and commercial experience offered by the team at The Passionate PA!

Emily brings an added layer of knowledge with 10 years spent in the cut and thrust of growing HR departments. She has a passion for doing things exceptionally well, and bringing people together to achieve incredible things. She loves nothing more than helping ambitious businesses creating a full ‘Employee Lifecycle’, helping the owners/directors create structure for their people through selection, recruitment and retention.

Emily’s career highlights include completing her masters in HR Management with Bournemouth University and becoming a Chartered Member of the CIPD. She has led and managed various change programmes and been involved in takeovers. During her time at Atlas Elektronik, Emily developed a Leadership Programme to future proof the company and create a consistent, authentic and effective leadership style for current and future senior managers.

It was also at Atlas Elektronik that Emily was recognised during the 2017 Dorset Business Awards for the company’s ‘Outstanding Contribution to Apprenticeships Award’ and ‘Young Chamber Award’ – Emily was fundamental in both these wins.

Emily says: “I thrive on making a difference to people and the businesses I work within. The business world as we know it has changed hugely throughout the recent pandemic so businesses are having to adapt in order to survive. I believe that a number of those changes are opportunities for me too, now I am a freelance PA.  With my skills, experience and knowledge I can help businesses not just survive but thrive. I’m not simply an overhead to clients; I will add real value when I’m working with them, and when I’m not with them, there’s no cost to them at all. I don’t have to be a long-term, permanent commitment.”

Flexibility is key to the success in entrepreneurial businesses. 

Emily is joining a growing team of Passionate PAs, the most recognisable faces in Dorset are business owners Debbie Frith (Poole & North Dorset), Claire Bartlett (Ringwood & New Forest) and Jenni Bowman (Bournemouth & Christchurch). Each of them provides freelance PA services on a one-to-one basis, as well as to teams, delivering cost-effective solutions to help their clients grow. Dorset based clients include Shrinkwrap Machinery, Aspire Jobs, Hamworthy Heating, Dorset Business Angels, Chris Croft Training, Peer 2 Peer Boards, Alan & Thomas Insurance, Motivational Maps, Experience UX, Just Shutters Franchises and Vinyl Solutions.

L-R: Debbie Frith, Dominique Bailhache, Kate Chastey, Jenni Bowman, Laurey Buckland, Louise Cummins, Claire Bartlett
Gary Neild and Emily Fuller

Kate Chastey, franchisor of The Passionate PA still also works directly with Poole-based Blue Sky Financial Planning. Director Gary Neild awarded Emily with the Young Chamber Award at the 2017 Dorset Business Awards and at the time, recognised her dedication, enthusiasm and professional approach.

Gary says: “Kate has provided an extensive skillset and an ability to understand and support the future of my business. I would not have achieved some of the things I have in the last five years without her by my side. The team she is creating is nothing short of inspirational and I know Emily will offer clients just as much as the other Passionate PAs do. They are an unrivalled resource if you want to grow and prosper – and fun to work with too!”

Emily is now looking to build her business across Weymouth and West Dorset. If you would like to find out more, visit www.thepassionatepa.co.uk or call Emily directly on 07387 989 692.

You can read all about Emily’s skills and experience by clicking here!


Further blogs from The Passionate PA: