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Shelagh Donnelly

Professional Speaker | Founder, Exceptional EA

Professional Speaker | Founder, Exceptional EA

Assistants around the globe have been turning to Shelagh Donnelly and her Exceptional EA website since 2013 for professional development. Authentic, expert and inspiring, Shelagh helps you thrive and amplify your value as you perform at a high level – whatever your job title. A career EA who spent much of that time in the C-Suite, she’s also been a governance professional and a corporate software trainer.

Having worked alongside senior executives during economic booms and recessions, a corporate merger, the dissolution of one public institution and its successor institution’s first year, Shelagh is widely recognised for her leadership and her influence in shaping organisational culture. Engaging and positive, she brings pragmatic and uplifting insights. Shelagh’s training is future-focused and grounded in research as well as years of experience with change and with board-level strategy and priorities.

During the decades Shelagh walked your walk, she established internal networks, led teams and multiple projects, initiated annual staff conferences, had the benefit of her own assistants, and chaired a national board of directors. Since 2019, this Canadian has been sharing her insights and expertise internationally. Shelagh’s presentations have taken her throughout North America and to Australia, the Caribbean, Europe, South Africa and the UK.

  • Positively Future Ready: Anticipating and Adapting to Change

    We hear talk about future-proofing careers, which may bring to mind terms such as baby-proofing, bullet-proofing, tamper-proofing and so on.

    Rather than thinking defensively about safeguarding careers, we can approach our futures in the context of building well-deserved confidence even given the turbulent times. Together, we’ll explore substantial topics without taking ourselves too seriously in the process. We can and must proactively prepare for futures that are yet to be fully defined. We’ll explore change and adaptability with accelerated rates of change on the horizon.

    As we consider personal and organisational resilience, Shelagh will encourage you to challenge your views on perfectionism, and your approach and reactions to decision-making and mistakes. In this era, it also makes sense to routinely assess – and sometimes recalibrate – our performance, image, exposure/visibility and goals.

    Whether or not you enjoy the prospect of change, you’ll be better equipped than ever to prepare for and deal with it.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Understanding and adapting to different degrees of change
    • Managing expectations we have of ourselves, and the quest for perfection
    • Intentionally resilient: ideas to elevate personal resilience
    • Informed optimism: cultivating career resilience and facing the future with confidence through routine self-assessments, and recalibrations as appropriate
  • The Resilient Assistant: Taking Chances on Yourself

    The early 2020s have brought home, in no uncertain terms, the significance of personal and career resilience. You know Shelagh as a writer, professional speaker and trainer who understands your career because she lived it for almost three decades. You may not have known Shelagh walked away from highly sought-after roles – first to become a software trainer for a national corporation, and then again when she and her husband began their family.

    A few years later, in a smaller community that held few opportunities, Shelagh considered herself fortunate to reboot her assistant career … at the bottom of the organisation chart. Shelagh’s story is one of values, ambition, well-earned confidence, and resilience. She’s repeatedly taken chances on herself, leveraging career capital and adapting to change – and you can too.

    As the 2020s unfold, we need to continue to adapt. This requires resilience, and Shelagh has – literally – written the book on resilience for assistants. In addition to research, she speaks from personal experience, as her career spanned economic booms and recessions, a corporate merger and the dissolution of a public institution.

    Join Shelagh as we look at how to navigate, survive and thrive in times of uncertainty and change.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Alignment of career, values and ambitions: taking chances
    • Choosing informed optimism
    • Resilience in times of change and challenge
  • Cybersecurity and Personal Data: What We Need to Know in 2021

    Cybersecurity is consistently in the news. We rely on our IT colleagues and experts to keep everything secure, yet individuals also have a lot at stake and a role to play. Cybersecurity and data privacy should also be personal priorities.

    A significant issue at the best of times, cybersecurity is all the more important given remote and hybrid careers. Regardless of where you work, you’re likely relying on a combination of employer and personal hardware and servers. We’ll take a look at the potential implications a cyber breach can have for individuals and employers, and the tactics threat actors (hackers/cyber criminals) employ.

    Digital communications are increasingly the norm, and so we also need to be increasingly mindful of the privacy of our personal data. Shelagh will encourage you to reconsider how and where you share information, in the context of the commoditization of personal data.

    Whether it’s workplace or personal data, there are practices you can adopt to mitigate risks. You’ll come away from this time with Shelagh with some simple, proactive measures you can take to reduce your cyber vulnerabilities. Join Shelagh in this session, and you’ll see why she’s called the cybersecurity whisperer.

    Learning Outcomes:

    • The implications of a cyber breach
    • New reasons to be cautious in sharing personal data
    • Recognising and mitigating risks: best practices
  • Resilience, Motivation and Goals: Aligning Your Career Development with New Norms

    Let’s face it. COVID-19 turned the world upside down and then gave it a few shakes for good measure. Individuals and employers reacted and adapted as longstanding norms gave way to what initially seemed to be temporary measures. Now, it’s time to be proactive. We’ll begin by focusing on resilience amid a changing world.

    Shelagh will also walk you through macro (big picture) considerations and potential implications for your career. We’ll also look at steps for completing your own analyses to identify your career priorities and goals. This will help position you to progress and thrive, by aligning your professional development plans with organisational needs and a world in which change is increasingly the norm.

    Learning Outcomes

    • Environmental scan: the pandemic’s impacts on workplace trends and expectations
    • Nurturing your personal resilience and making positive impacts on your organisation’s resilience
    • Professional development and goals that align with new norms
  • Leveraging Influence: Making a Portal Pipe Dream a Reality

    In the first year of her decade-long tenure supporting a board of directors, Shelagh Donnelly spent many evenings photocopying confidential documents and building dozens of board packages (“board books”) assembly line-style for each board meeting. She went through the same process for board committee meetings. Late submissions meant inserting colourful placeholders in each package and then storing stacks of agenda packages in a secure manner while waiting for additional documents to photocopy.

    It wasn’t long before Shelagh began advocating for acquisition of portal software. She wanted to put a halt to the assembly line inefficiencies and also recognised that a portal could afford advantages and provide value to both the board and management team. However, this was 2009. None of Shelagh’s sector peers in her region worked with a portal, and this represented an unprecedented expense. There was some resistance to long-established practices, and not everyone was comfortable with the notion of preparing for meetings from a laptop or iPad screen.

    To some, a portal seemed nothing more than a pipe dream. Yet, incrementally and in partnership with a board champion, Shelagh made it happen. Join Shelagh and Lucy for a discussion of how an assistant can deploy strategy, diplomacy, networking and perseverance to overcome obstacles and add value.

  • Career and Life Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic

    The year 2020 will go down in history not only for the scale of the global COVID-19 pandemic, but also for its economic and social impacts. With lockdowns, quarantines, remote work environments and unprecedented access to information feeds and opinions, assistants and employers have had to quickly adapt.

    This time of unparalleled shifts in how we live and work will have long-term ramifications. Assistants should anticipate Workplace 2.0, as working arrangements, meeting and travel practices may not return to pre-pandemic
    norms. Employers are faced with financial and operational challenges. They may reassess not only brick and mortar requirements, but also payroll realities.

    More than ever, assistants need to focus on resilience, adding value, and effectively communicating with their employers. Assistants also need to focus on their networks. Through her own expansive networks, Shelagh has been sharing pandemic business practices and experiences from around the globe on her Exceptional EA website.

    Join Shelagh for a look at lessons on business continuity, resilience, and what to anticipate going forward.

  • An Introduction to Risk Management

    You’ve heard of risk management and you may have some understanding of enterprise risk management (ERM), but you’d like to learn more. That’s good, because ERM is an important strategic business discipline that can make a difference in your organization’s ability to execute on its strategic plan.

    ERM done well results in informed decision making, and it reflects a series of processes put in place to manage risks. There’s also integrated risk management (IRM), and Shelagh will explain them both. She’ll walk you through risk processes and the respective roles that employees, management and the board hold in an organization’s risk management. We’ll explore different types of risks and terminology such as risk appetite, ownership and tolerance before moving on to internal controls, internal audit and mitigation strategies.

    As we discuss the balancing of risks and returns, we’ll also look at risk monitoring and tools such as risk registers and heat maps. Shelagh will provide you a clear, elevated understanding of risk management’s role in your organization’s success.

  • What about the Board? An Introduction to Governance

    You continually strive to perform at a high level in your role, which may involve preparing or polishing some of the materials that ultimately wind up in front of the board of directors. Or perhaps you want to gain strategic insights to ensure you add value as an assistant. In either case, it’s helpful to build your understanding of governance. If you’ve ever wondered how a board functions, or why directors may challenge management and ask questions, this session will provide insights on the strategic nature of governance.

    Shelagh, who spent more than a decade in the governance career and writes weekly about governance matters, will walk you through that world. Learn how a board distinguishes its role from that of management as directors bring expertise and oversight to multiple matters – value creation, audits, compliance, disclosure, transparency, risk management, diversity, cybersecurity and other tech issues as well as enterprise, social and corporate governance (ESG) and more. Boards and directors carry significant responsibilities and accountabilities, and they need concise, quality reporting.

    Be prepared to enhance your insights on the principles of governance in this climate of stakeholder and shareholder activism, and learn why respectful debates and some healthy tension are signs of good governance. You can also be prepared to apply these insights to communications, presentations and reports you and your principal may prepare – not only materials intended for the board, but also those destined for management and other colleagues.

  • Negotiation Skills for Assistants

    Assistants often negotiate on behalf of their employers, and your ability to do so effectively is one more means by which you make yourself valuable.

    Your readiness and ability to negotiate can have positive impacts on two key resources: time and finances. A good assistant will negotiate the most favourable possible terms when sourcing services, events and venues. Skilled assistants can also alleviate frustrations as they deploy their negotiation skills in scheduling and rescheduling meetings, implementing change, resolving or preventing sticky interpersonal situations, and securing sought after seats, reservations and bookings.

    You may already know that Shelagh left the administrative role for a few years mid-career. She built an award-winning career as a sales rep for the same corporation in which she’d been first an executive secretary and then a trainer. She’d already accrued negotiation skills working in those C-level offices, but honed them even further in bringing parties together to achieve mutual wins.

    The extent to which you’re comfortable and effective in negotiating on your own behalf can also impact you personally and professionally. Join Shelagh in exploration of principles and techniques for effective negotiating strategies. We’ll also look at why and how you should plan to develop and draw upon negotiating skills when it comes to interviews, performance planning and career satisfaction.

  • Onboaring new colleagues: add value whilst saving your sanity

    Do you find yourself being asked the same questions every time a new person joins your office? Perhaps you sometimes feel as though there’s a neon sign flashing Ask Me! above your desk? Maybe you’ve begun to wonder if someone in HR has told recent hires that you’re the Newbie Whisperer? That you’re the point person for bringing newcomers up to speed?

    Perhaps, you ponder, helping to induct (onboard) newcomers is actually an expectation that’s just not yet been formalized. You are not alone. Answering questions here and there while helping new colleagues settle in can represent a series of distractions and interruptions to routine. If you’re meeting these needs on a piecemeal basis, your productivity drops. That’s not good for you or for the others you support, and it’s certainly not ideal if new colleagues feel that they’re imposing on your time.

    Whether or not you’ve already taken steps to include office onboarding in your job description, the fact is that many assistants provide a guiding hand to a range of newcomers. Given the investments of time and financial resources in recruiting new hires, it makes sense to plan and formalise onboarding processes. You want your new colleagues to feel welcome and well grounded, and that also provides a good return on investments (ROI) of time and expertise.

    Your takeaways:

    • Adding value through onboarding (induction)
    • Structuring your program(induction)
    • Shared resources
    • Onboarding your principal (boss)
  • Networking: grow professionally while being a brand ambassador

    The best assistants are extensions of their principals (bosses). You’re well positioned to represent the brand – your office, department or division and the organization itself – and build positive, authentic perceptions. External networks and professional associations represent additional opportunities to add value by serving as a brand ambassador.

    These associations also represent opportunities to expose yourself to new people, ideas and best practices while nurturing your resilience. That’s critical in a career where you’re constantly supporting others’ success.

    In this session, we’ll look at networking principles, how to establish internal and external networks, and the personal and professional benefits of developing international networks through technology.

    Plan to look at a couple of case studies, as Shelagh helped professionalize a national network of counterparts who work in the same sector but may be situated up to thousands of kilometers/miles apart from one another. Shelagh will provide an overview of the evolution and structure of this professional association, and how technology plays a role in its success.

    She’ll also identify strategies on how to make the business case, launch and nurture your own internal network if your employer isn’t already tapping into such a resource. Shelagh has launched two internal networks, one in 2006 and another in 2012, and both are still going strong.

    We’ll wrap up by pushing the boundaries beyond what you might consider a typical network. With technology, we can establish and nurture digital networks across the globe. This presents opportunities to expose yourself to different cultures, practices and people, all of which enhance your CQ/cultural intelligence. At the same time, you’ll be building a network of supportive contacts who share practices and business travel insights.

    Your takeaways:

    • Networks as a means of adding value to your employer while enhancing your resilience and cultural intelligence (CQ)
    • The benefits of formalizing networks with sector or other peers across the city, region or country
    • How to make the business case for an internal network, and then launch it
    • Digital networks: exploring International networks of assistants on social media
  • Public Speaking and Your Career: Presentations and More

    The best assistants are recognized as extensions of their executives. They’re well informed and acquit themselves with confidence. Despite this, even C-level assistants sometimes hesitate or experience discomfort when asked to speak in front of a group.

    Whether it’s a planned presentation or a request to provide a project or event update during a meeting, each such occasion represents an opportunity to enhance your reputation and your capacity to influence decision making. Shelagh studied speech arts and was winning public speaking competitions at the age of 13, and shares the strategies that supported her success in interview situations and as an EA.

    Focused preparation goes a long way, and this session will position you to tackle speaking opportunities with greater skill and confidence. You’ll come away with Shelagh’s step-by-step process to prepare for presentation success.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Step-by-step tips on preparing and polishing a presentation
    • Flipping your perspective to sharpen your presentation skills
    • Proactive strategies to ease unwanted nerves
    • Principles you can also apply to speaking confidently at meetings and interviews
  • Social Media for the Wary: It can be relevant for your career

    If you’ve shunned social media or stayed on its sidelines, you’re in good company. What you may not realize is just how relevant some channels can be to your brand and your career.

    Social media can be the contemporary networking equivalent of a golf club membership, as you can make mutually beneficial connections. LinkedIn can serve as your online CV – complete with endorsements and recommendations. If you choose, social media can also serve as a vehicle for professional development.

    Join Shelagh for an interactive look at local, national and international networks that can become valued resources. You’ll learn how to tap in to social media as a networking mechanism and which resources can be relevant for your professional development. If you’ve contemplated social media but have reservations about how to get going, we’ll cover how to establish accounts. By the end of this session, you’ll be able to make better informed decisions about whether any of Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter have a place in your career.

    Your takeaways:

    • Learn how social media can influence your career prospects
    • Explore social media in the context of professional development
    • Reassess whether or not some channels have a place in your professional life
    • Learn the core steps of setting up LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts
  • Because You Didn't Ask: Prepare to Advocate for Yourself

    The best assistants are recognized as extensions of their executives. They’re well informed and acquit themselves with confidence. Despite this, even C-level assistants sometimes hesitate or experience discomfort when asked to speak in front of a group.

    Whether it’s a planned presentation or a request to provide a project or event update during a meeting, each such occasion represents an opportunity to enhance your reputation and your capacity to influence decision making. Shelagh studied speech arts and was winning public speaking competitions at the age of 13, and shares the strategies that supported her success in interview situations and as an EA.

    Focused preparation goes a long way, and this session will position you to tackle speaking opportunities with greater skill and confidence. You’ll come away with Shelagh’s step-by-step process to prepare for presentation success.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Step-by-step tips on preparing and polishing a presentation
    • Flipping your perspective to sharpen your presentation skills
    • Proactive strategies to ease unwanted nerves
    • Principles you can also apply to speaking confidently at meetings and interviews


  • Writing for Career Sccess: Business Writing Skills

    This interactive session will challenge you to assess the impact your writing skills have on your career prospects. Whether you’re comfortable in your current role or want to enhance prospects for promotion, you’ll benefit by considering what your business writing says about your credibility, currency and professionalism.

    Join Shelagh to enhance your ability to write for multiple audiences and demographics, with concise content that’s underpinned by good grammar, proper punctuation and organizational knowledge. Even the best assistants will benefit from revisiting how to structure business communications with clarity and logic. We’ll also focus on your choice of words, and how your writing can either convey or toss away power and influence.

    Through this session, you’ll reassess your writing skills from the perspectives of executives and other colleagues as well as clients and recruiters. In the process, you’ll gain insights on how to ensure your written communications yield positive reputational impacts for you and for your employer.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Writing with your audiences in mind
    • Be concise: write so that people will read your work
    • How to structure your communications with clarity and logic
    • How to ensure your grammar and language enhance, not diminish, your reputation


  • Building Resilience in the Face of Change

    “May you live in interesting times.” Digital disruption has become part of the lexicon, but did you know that we’ve embarked upon the Fourth Industrial Revolution, aka IR4.0? Pundits have applied other terms to this era we’ve entered, with some labelling it as transformational and others referring to it as The Great Disruption.

    We routinely hear about artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics, and how all these advances are expected to transform not only the way business is done, but society itself. There are other changes on the horizon, as well. What do all these changes mean for the assistant’s career, and what skills will assistants need in order to continue to add value? Time will tell, but emotional intelligence and complex problem solving skills alone likely won’t be enough. Assistants will also want to continue to adapt and refine their skill sets.

    In the midst of uncertainty, one thing assistants can do is work on their resilience. That’s good for an individual, and also good for their clients, colleagues and employers. Join Shelagh for a look at how adaptability, lifelong learning and networking nurture one’s resilience and capacity to add value in times of change.

    Your takeaways:

    • Gain perspective on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and an overview of tech advances
    • Examine how tech advances have already impacted the career, and what skills will remain relevant
    • Explore how to nurture your resilience through adaptability, lifelong learning and peer networks


  • Cybersecurity: Understanding Risks and How to Mitigate Them

    … in the office and at home! Your workplace is digital. With cybercrime attacks continuing to increase in both frequency and sophistication, there are three types of organizations: those that have been hacked, those that have been hacked but don’t yet know it, and those that have yet to be hacked.

    Executives and boards are paying attention because cybersecurity is critical to an organization’s ability to deliver on its strategic plan. Astute assistants will also want to pay attention, particularly since EAs are among those specifically targeted by cyber criminals.

    Join Shelagh for a breakdown of cybersecurity terminology, a look at how breaches occur, and the potential ramifications for your employer. We’ll wrap up with a review of practical, proactive measures you can take to mitigate risks in the office and at home.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Get the latest updates on cybersecurity risks
    • There’s more to cyber crime than phishing: learn a bit of the language
    • Consider whether your practices are inadvertently creating risks
    • Understand how you can mitigate risks at home in the office


  • IR 4.0: What This Industrial Revelution Means for Assistants

    Artificial Intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality. Advanced robotics, blockchain and drones. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Just kidding when it comes to these last three. The others, however, are more than abstract concepts; they’re the new facts of life and part of the Great Disruption. They also represent some aspects of IR4.0, aka the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

    It’s not that long ago that pundits were questioning whether the internet would have much impact on the retail and media sectors. We now know the answer, and there are projections that we may soon look back in the same way on today’s questions about blockchain technology.

    As with all revolutions, this one is impacting both personal and business lives. Alexa, Cora and Siri aren’t simply names any more; they’re among the AI products bearing human monikers. Since AI is projected to increase gross domestic product (GDP) around the globe, astute business leaders are assessing both risks and opportunities associated with digital breakthroughs and disruption.

    Astute assistants are doing the same, rather than resting on their EQ laurels. Join Shelagh for a discussion of the administrative career in light of these tech advances, and how to build and maintain resilience in these times of change.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Familiarize yourself with the basics of IR4.0, the Fourth Industrial Revolution and Blockchain technology
    • Consider the ramifications for your career 5 and 10 years out; where will you add value?
    • Identify resources to help you adapt
    • Identify how to establish or maintain boundaries between your personal and business lives
    • Consider how inter-generational mentorships can benefit everyone; explore potential for tapping into (or being!) a Millennial digital mentor


  • Taking Charge: Strategies for Successful Meetings

    You may not chair the meetings you record, but you can certainly take the lead when it comes to organizational systems that will benefit you and your colleagues.

    A good agenda can impact meeting success, and that includes effective use of participants’ time. We’ll focus on agenda design as well as the use of consent agendas and report templates.

    Since securing colleagues’ agenda deliverables in a timely manner can sometimes be a challenge, we’ll also look at communicating with work plans and calendars to ensure that colleagues know what’s expected of them and when. These tools also help you increase your efficiencies, as they eliminate the need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to agenda planning and recurring meeting items.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Understand how consent agendas work and help make the best use of meeting time
    • Tips for agenda templates that help people better prepare for meetings
    • Encourage efficiencies through the use of briefs/report templates
    • Why a work plan/forward calendar is a win:win for you and your colleagues
    • Tips for developing your own work plan/forward calendar


  • Less is More: Elevating Your Minutes

    Less is more. This concept, coined by architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, also applies to the art of recording minutes.

    While recording standards have evolved, one thing hasn’t changed: many assistants are uncomfortable with the task, or uncertain about getting minutes right. You want to document information that’s relevant for institutional purposes, and meeting participants want concise, accurate records. This means you need to distinguish between what should and shouldn’t be recorded.

    Shelagh can help you elevate the quality of your minutes as well as your confidence when it comes to this important aspect of the job. Anticipate discussion of purpose, accessibility, context and organizational needs. We’ll also look at the recorder’s neutrality, how best to record resolutions, and the art of attribution.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Enhance your confidence when it comes to recording meetings
    • Ensure that your recording practices have evolved and meet organizational needs
    • Tips to assess your minutes for neutrality
    • Understand what should and shouldn’t be recorded


  • Let's Get Organized! Moving from Reactive to Proactive Mode

    If you’ve ever found yourself playing catch up in the office or struggling to get out the door at a reasonable hour, this interactive session will help you work smart and not just hard. You’re no doubt highly committed, but are you proactively managing your time and priorities?

    Sometimes it’s an issue of workload. Perhaps you support multiple committees, supervise challenging colleagues, or find yourself approaching burnout. When you have a lot on your plate, it can be easy to slip into a reactive mode.

    Be prepared to assess the difference between being busy and being productive, and to consider organizational strategies that support efficiencies. Shelagh will also discuss how use of an annual calendar and work plan can increase your capacity to be proactive, and also have a positive impact for your colleagues.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Assess whether you’re making the best use of your time in the office
    • Learn how to recognize a career plateau that hinders productivity
    • Identify practical steps to help shift from a reactive to proactive mode
    • Tips on organizational practices to increase efficiencies


  • Governance: A Career Path to Consider

    Have you ever thought about applying your EA skills to a role in which you support a board of directors? Or perhaps you and your executive produce deliverables that wind up in front of a board, and you’d like to better understand the world of governance­­.

    The governance career is a great option for experienced professionals who like a challenge. Your work must be accurate and efficient, and you need to be organized, flexible and proactive. A board needs a strategic thinker, and the challenges you face require you to be both diplomatic and solution-focused. If you like growth, you’ll appreciate the opportunity to work with and learn from a number of high achievers.

    While some boards require that their staff have paralegal education and experience, others provide opportunities for high performing EAs. Shelagh will share her insights, earned over the course of more than a decade of responsibility for a board and its committees, on this stimulating career path.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Working effectively with high achievers
    • Confidence via credibility: intro to governance
    • Inside the role
    • Systems for board management
    • Skillful board and relationship management


  • Great Expectations: Board Management and Relations

    Expectations of boards are high, and your contributions to the board’s success are also held to a high standard. You need to communicate effectively and produce quality meeting packages in addition to navigating sensitive situations and maintaining confidentiality.

    While reporting structures vary, you’re likely accountable to a number of stakeholders. Relationship management skills are key to your success. You’re constantly collaborating with directors, C-level colleagues and their EAs.

    Technical skills aside, it’s your emotional and cultural intelligence that help you secure deliverables, produce relevant meeting packages in a timely manner and gain stakeholders’ respect. We’ll look at relationships and expectations, and getting the job done through influence rather than authority. We’ll also focus on establishing and maintaining credibility, trust and confidence through the quality of your communications, meetings and board packages.

    Your takeaways:

    • Rising expectations
    • Establishing and maintaining credibility, trust and confidence
    • Communicating with the board and management
    • Gettng those deliverables in on time
    • Managing relations and expectations


  • In Search of Life-Work balance: FOMO aand Perfectionism

    Is life-work balance a myth in your experience, or something that’s achieved in spurts? Assistants make careers out of supporting other peoples’ successes, sometimes to their own detriment. They often work extended hours in the office, at home, or sometimes during their commutes.

    If you routinely check email, texts and other business communications even when you’re on vacation or under the weather, you may be doing yourself a disservice with your digital habits.

    Does that same commitment to being “on” also lead you to overextend yourself on the job even though your principal (boss) doesn’t expect or even know about all those extra hours you put in? Do those long hours translate to peak performance, or to a tired, stressed-out assistant?

    While there are certainly roles that couldn’t be accomplished without inordinate hours, sometimes assistants place unreasonable expectations on their own shoulders. That can impact an individual’s resilience, which in turn impacts job performance. Whether or not you consider life-work balance a realistic goal, you can increase your resilience with a mindful approach. When resilience is nurtured, that’s good for you and good for business. With increased resilience, you’re likely to perform better and while at least tipping the scales toward a better sense of balance.

    So what are some of the challenges in establishing and maintaining boundaries between business and personal lives? In this session, we’ll look at the quest for perfectionism as well as the office equivalent of FOMO, known as a fear of missing out. Shelagh will also challenge participants to identify boundaries between personal and business lives, and how to establish and maintain them.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Identify whether you’re sometimes over-invested in your work, and why
    • Be prepared to play “What if …”, to identify what would happen if you took steps to achieve a better balance between your personal and work lives
    • Identify boundaries you would like to establish, and how to articulate them


  • Real Careers: Lessons from the Front Lines

    Before she began interviewing and sharing Real Careers insights from high performing assistants around the globe on her website, Shelagh built an impressive EA career of her own.

    What you may not know is that she’s walked away from more than one otherwise fantastic opportunity on the basis of either “fit” or the priority she attached to spending time with her young family.

    Not all careers follow steadily upward trajectories and, in her thirties, Shelagh rebooted hers. She went from supporting those at the top of the org chart and working as a corporate editor and trainer in her twenties to re-entering the administrative career more than a few rungs down the corporate ladder. Not long after, she found herself leading a team of staff in conflict. She ultimately worked her way back up to roles in which she was accountable to CEOs and a board of directors.

    Join Shelagh for a frank and inspirational discussion of the challenges, opportunities and even some personalities she’s encountered along the way – and lessons learned. You’ll learn about the mantra she adopted when dealing with difficult people, the significance of fit, and the merits of building your career around your personal life rather than the other way around.

    Your Takeaways:

    • How to lead: influencing without authority
    • Dealing with difficult people
    • Assessing career opportunities: there’s more than compensation to consider


  • Nothing Compares to You: Own Your Brand as AI Moves In

    Brand is simply another word for reputation; it reflects the image and perceptions people have of you. However you refer to it, your brand or reputation shapes your career and so you need to pay attention. You also need to be authentic.

    We regularly turn to mirrors to check how we physically present ourselves to the world, but how often do we assess and nurture our brands? The way you dress and look are a couple of elements, but there’s more to it. You also have the ability to enhance your influence or reduce your brand through the way you speak – to your peers, and to power.

    Your brand impacts not only your career prospects; it also influences others’ perceptions of your principal (boss) and employer.

    Your Takeaways:

    • Understand how your brand impacts your career prospects
    • Assess the current state of your brand
    • Learn how image, attitude, credibility and social media impact your brand
    • Identify how to nurture and own both your brand and your career


  • Priscilia Gough, Senior Executive Assistant, Office of the CEO and Board of Directors

    I found Shelagh to be a quintessential professional whose knowledge of our profession is boundless. Shelagh is a fantastic speaker and commands the attention of the room when she speaks. I am so grateful to have met her and look forward to learning more from her in the future.

  • Stephanie Bergsieker, Executive Assistant, Melbourne, Florida

    Shelagh is very knowledgeable about the administrative assistant profession and an excellent educator. I cannot say enough wonderful things about her!

    … Thank you Shelagh for your sharing your knowledge and insight on our wonderfully challenging profession!

  • Bonnie Low-Kramen, international trainer and speaker; author, Be the Ultimate Assistant

    Shelagh is engaging, funny, and oh so knowledgeable about most everything having to do with the administrative professionals of the world. We are all very fortunate to have her as an important and caring resource.

  • Kelly McAulay, Executive Assistant, William Grant & Sons

    It was a pleasure to finally meet Shelagh and see her present at the EPAA Fellows Day in Manchester.

    Shelagh’s presentation was well structured and delivered, a good balance between theory and practical application exploring the competencies, capabilities and activities that strategic EAs undertake.

    I have attended many training courses and heard many speakers over my career and I was more than delighted to have invested my time listening to Shelagh – totally on point and I would definitely recommend her content and presentation style.

  • Margo Baptista, University Secretary (retired), MacEwan University

    Shelagh and I have been colleagues in the Canadian post-secondary sector for many years. She is a champion for professional development and for the advancement of both administrative and governance professionals in the sector. Throughout her career, she has presented on topics ranging from preparing minutes to professional development planning, working with the executive team and using web portals, to best practices in board recruitment, assessment, orientation and education. I have personally attended and benefited from many of Shelagh’s presentations at national and international peer conferences. In all cases, she provides wise counsel and practical strategies that each of us can use in our institutions and organizations.

    … She has earned the respect of colleagues at home, across the country, south of the border, and around the world.

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