When the shoe fits

One of the great things about being an EA is the ability to traverse a range of organisations and sectors easily. But having lots of options can be challenging. Am I really in the right place? Do the values of my organisation sit well with me? Do I feel like I’m actually achieving something that’s important?

These questions can eat away at you. Muhammad Ali famously declared: “It isn’t the mountains ahead to climb that wear you out; it’s the pebble in your shoe.” As we all know, today’s EA faces a never-ending onslaught of pebbles— emails, meeting requests, travel bookings, and that random task my boss and I affectionately call the “last dot point”. So how do we rise above everything to find EA fulfilment?

I found my true fit at the Sydney Opera House as EA to the CEO and Head of Protocol, balancing a love of theatre and all things sparkling with a nerdy desire to organise and assist. But getting there took a while, years in fact, with jobs in health, education, recruitment and fashion.

Even my role at the Opera House is nothing like it was in 2006. By constantly looking for opportunities that will benefit both me and the House, I’ve taken on managing a team of EAs, overseeing arrangements for visiting kings, queens and the occasional president, and leading projects such as the Opera House’s first Mardi Gras float. All that was possible not only because I was good at my job, but because I love the subject matter and am inspired by the organisation and its community.

It can be easy to focus on the pebbles, but it’s vital to embrace change and to think about the bigger picture: am I really in sync with my organisation, or my boss? Can I be my authentic self at the office? Do I see how my work contributes to the greater whole? I still marvel at those iconic sails on my morning approach along East Circular Quay, even after 13 years. You know when the shoe fits.

The author:
Anthony Carthew, EA to Louise Herron, CEO of Sydney Opera House, and 2018 PA of the Year Australasia.