Kim Glover is the award-winning founder of the Exeter PA Network, a regional network based in the South West of England.

Can we start with a little background information? Where are you from and what is your current role?

I’m from Exeter, in Devon, although now live nearer the coast at Teignmouth, about 15 miles from Exeter.  Whilst growing up, my family were based in the Middle East for a period of time, as my father’s job took us there.

My current role is as Executive Assistant to the Managing Partner (Malcolm Dickinson) at Michelmores LLP in Exeter.  Michelmores are a Top 100 full service law firm, headquartered in Devon, with offices in Bristol and London.

What is your background?

I’ve been working at Michelmores for the past 22 years; and have worked with Malcolm throughout that time.  Whilst at the firm, I’ve been fortunate enough to progress my role, first as secretarial supervisor for a small team, then for a department, before becoming Head of Professional Support; looking after a team of 80 PAs across our three offices, as well as supporting Malcolm in his role as Managing Partner.  More recently, I’ve handed across my team leader responsibilities, and have concentrated on supporting our senior leadership team via our Management and Executive Boards.

How did you become an Assistant?

Growing up I thought I was going to be a vet!  After about a year at college studying A levels, it became clear I wasn’t great with dissection and blood, and I needed to find a different career path.  I felt I needed to get some qualifications under my belt, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do.  I thought if I could get some secretarial qualifications, I could work within any industry/sector and work out from there what I enjoyed.  After a year at secretarial college, I worked at a fund managers, and then did a stint in the motor-trade, before ending up at Michelmores.  I enjoyed being a Legal Secretary and working for my boss so much, I stayed…

What are the main changes you have seen in the time you have been an Assistant?

There have been so many changes!! Of course technology is the most obvious and biggest change, but also how the role of the Assistant is perceived and valued – hallelujah! The quality of training and resources available, the ability to connect with peers from around the world to share experiences and best practice, and to access support – it’s all there for the taking and is utterly amazing!

What inspires and motivates you?

I’m inspired by the incredible champions of our profession; those people who work so hard to promote our profession, give their time and energy for the benefit of the wider Assistant population, often making huge personal sacrifices – they are all incredible and collectively we owe them our thanks and they deserve a massive round of applause (I’m clapping loudly)!

I’m motivated by wins; wins for me personally and wins through the Network for our members.  Each time business is generated as a result of a connection made through the Network, either by me or by a member for their own organisation, that reinforces for me the ‘why’ behind the Network, and all the hard work to keep it going.  I’m motivated by Network members who tell me how much more confident they feel because of the learning and development we provide, or how much happier they are because of the connections they’ve made, which means they feel less isolated in their roles, or when they get a bonus or pay rise because their organisation now ‘gets it’ in terms of the value they are delivering to their organisations.

What advice would you give someone just starting out as an Assistant?

Network, network, network…! And find yourself a mentor.

Plus, seek to understand generational differences, and learn how to adapt your approach to ensure you’re able to build relationships with a broad spectrum of colleagues, and are able to tap into the bank of knowledge and experience of senior Assistants. Think about what you might be able to teach someone of an older generation (perhaps around new tech), in exchange for them showing you the ropes.

Tell us about the Exeter PA Network.  What inspired you to set up the network?

I was inspired by Christine Henshall-Hill, the Founder of Plymouth PA Network.  I saw what she was delivering in Plymouth, in terms of opportunities to connect with local peers, and also to access workshops on a variety of topics, and I wanted something similar for PAs in Exeter.  She and I worked together on the launch event, and then it was over to me to run with it.  The rest, as they say, is history…

The network has been going for 6 years now. What do you think is the secret to keeping members engaged?

Consistency – both in terms of keeping in contact and delivering events.  We consistently deliver monthly breakfasts, two development events a year (February and June) and have now introduced a full day conference.  We try to have events at different times of the day (early morning or evenings outside of working hours, our conference during working hours, and occasionally over the weekend) to enable as many of our members to attend something during the year, fitting it around their work and home commitments.  We have ad hoc workshops, and social events, and keep in touch with our members regularly via social media and newsletters.  I’d like to think we celebrate our members’ successes and share news of wins, so that all our members can understand what’s possible through the Network, and how that translates into individual reward and recognition.

So, what’s next for Kim Glover? Where do you want to be in five years’ time?

Well, there’s quite a lot of change coming up for me this year, I feel.  I’m reshaping my role supporting Malcolm, which will give me more time to focus on developing the Network, as well as working with others on different business opportunities.  I’ve recently formed a property investment business with a business partner, having undertaken a year-long study programme, and am excited about where that will take me.  I’d like to think there will be some travel opportunities, as well as some R&R.  I’m really optimistic about 2018 and the coming years – I think it could be quite a journey – so bring it on..!

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Kathleen Drum is the Senior Editor of Executive Support Media. Her mission is to bring thought-provoking, timely and inspiring articles to administrative professionals around the world; empowering them not just to succeed in their roles, but to excel. As ... (Read More)

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