I love finding out why people do things. I’m interested in sociology and human behaviour and I’m also just a social person and love talking to people. It’ also why I love autobiographies, watching Graeme Norton and why I always had a thing for Michael Parkinson. Anyways…..
This being so, I’ve decided to find a few enterprising women forging ahead in their respective fields and interview them for what I’m calling the “In her Heels” Series. Asking the fun questions as well as the tough ones, and finding out what gets them up in the morning.
This week I talk to Megan Haigh from Executive Entourage
Since being named finalist for EA of the year in 2017, this down to earth Sydney mum is racing ahead in entrepreneurship and changing the way we look at EA’s in the process.
I originally connected with Megan when I applied for an EA role she was recruiting. From that very first phone call I was really impressed with her down to earth nature and the fact she really understood my struggles and knew what she was talking about around the EA recruitment space, as she was one herself. I knew I had to get to know her further and convince her to let me share her story with you all.
We agreed to meet at a coffee shop and we hit it off straight away. You never really know how things will go when you meet someone initially, and I thought a 30 min coffee stop would probably be all this was. Our meeting ended up being a good hour and a half and I can almost guarantee if we both didn’t have things to get back to we would have been there much longer!
This is one thing I really appreciate about Megan, she’s down to earth, open to conversation and more than happy to share her knowledge around the industry and let me know how she got into business in the first place. “I started my career not knowing what I wanted to be but decided to go to a secretarial college after year 12. This is when I fell in love with the career as an Executive Assistant. This career choice stayed with me and I have become a successful C Suite Executive Assistant with 20+ years of industry experience having worked the majority of the time in the legal, consumer goods and health industries. I really enjoy being a true business partner and assisting Executives to run their businesses”.
As an EA myself I was eager to find out her thoughts on the Industry in general. I personally find it hard sometimes to explain to people what I actually do, as an EA is a master organiser, project manager, analyst, operations manager, copywriter, negotiator and more, however sadly a lot of people still see this role as just that of a typist who makes coffee and books meetings. I asked Megan what she thought of this. “The Executive Assistant landscape is changing and businesses are recognising the value and core skills of Executive Assistants. In the current landscape, elite Executive Assistants are business partnering with their Executives for business success and assisting to lead the way for the business. Executive Assistants are now project managing, managing teams, managing key stakeholders and ensuring a successful and productive Executive to achieve strategic outcomes”.
“The new era of EA is a strategic business partner and they take on and have the ability to lead and drive the business forward. The core fundamentals of the EA role are still there and all experienced EAs know how to perform the key aspects of their role well. Executive Assistants are challenging themselves to learn more, add more value to the business and elevate their careers”.
Then came the all important question of cash. Are EA’s remunerated properly for what they do? “Executive Assistants are taking on more responsibility and are key contributors to businesses. Companies are starting to recognise this and reward their EAs for their contribution with higher wages for Elite Executive Assistants and providing additional benefits and bonuses”.
For me, it’s interesting to hear another EA’s thoughts on this topic. There are so many different variables when it comes to pay rates for EA’s and as a candidate in the current market it can be very frustrating to see these differences played out in job ads. I asked Megan (thinking with her recruitment hat on) if this was a fair assessment of what happens across the industry? “It all depends on the industry, the individual career experience, the contribution the role makes to the business and the Executive they support. Higher wages are provided to C Suite Executive Assistants who business partner with their executive and are career Executive Assistant”.
We also spoke about her career progression and the fact Megan is an award-winning EA, Awarded Finalist in 2017 for both PA of the Year Australasia and EA of the Year Australia. I really wanted to know – how did this happen? “I was working at a consumer goods business and was nominated for using my Executive Assistant and entrepreneurial skills. I had a business idea that I pitched to the Managing Director who I worked with to create a unique online business stream. I was given the go-ahead and also tasked with creating it. Utilising my resourcefulness and zero budget I started to create the business stream which started to test the concept initially but as time went on it was streamlined to automate the customer journey. The business stream in the first year became a $6M unique offering which grew to $10M and was then replicated globally. I was given an amazing opportunity to start the business stream and it was a very successful and rewarding experience. I was therefore lucky enough to be recognised within the industry for my contribution as an Executive Assistant in Australasia and Australia”.
Now I was really interested. Did this give her a big head? Spur her on? Spark the dream of climbing the corporate ladder? “The awards did change the way I looked at my career. I was at the top of my game and wanted to ensure that I didn’t get complacent and set myself a higher target, so I took my C Suite EA skills into management positions. I also knew that I could create anything I set my mind to so I also created a unique Executive Assistant Recruitment and Coaching business. I was drawn to the idea of creating my own unique Agency and being able to help Executives find the right candidate for their business success. I have had the privilege of working for some amazing Executive’s in my career and Business Partnering with them and I wanted to be able to help other Executive’s and EA’s find the same experience. When the two individuals are aligned it creates a powerful and successful business relationship”.
So, what exactly does Executive Entourage do and what role do you play? “I am the owner and Founder of Executive Entourage. I help Executives by recruiting the right Executive Assistant for their business needs now and in the future. I work closely with the Executive to understand the way they work, what is required and find them the right fit for business success. I speak to every candidate and work with them to understand where they are in their career and their career ambitions and match that with the roles we have on offer and their ideal Executive”.
Being on the business journey myself, I was interested to hear if Megan knew exactly what she wanted to do with her business when she started? Had she changed direction or done a business pivot at any time? “I always knew I wanted my own business. I took the time to plan my approach before leaping into it. The hardest part was finding an available business name and protecting it by trademarking. Once that was approved there was no holding me back and I knew exactly how to proceed and move the business forward. My niche is Executive Assistants as it is a role I was very successful with and understood. I, therefore, provide EA Recruitment, Coaching, Consultancy and an EA Network. Through developing the business and speaking with Executives I was able to refine my offering and provide them with exactly what they were after. Some Executives struggle to challenge, stretch, train and retain their current Executive Assistant talent so I have been able to provide bespoke coaching and training for their Executive Assistants”.
So what’s a typical day like in Megan’s heels? “I am a very organised person and have set routines that I like to stick to. This makes sure that I get everything I need done for the business in my day and helps with maintaining a successful work-life balance. I am a morning person so I try and get the majority of the heavy work done in the morning, go to the gym at lunch and then reprioritise in the afternoon to set myself up for success for the next day. I am on the phone the majority of the day to keep Executives and Candidates up to date on the progress of their recruitment journey”.
Businesses (as I’ve found) are often formed from our passions and the genuine intrinsic need to share with others what we love and what makes us tick. So I asked Megan one of my favourite questions. What’s your Why? What drives you? What gets you up in the morning? and I loved her simple yet passionate answer “Having a positive impact on the lives of others and helping them succeed in life and business”.
This is also a big benefit to having a coach or mentor. Never underestimate the big impact that is having someone in your corner. Here at The Daily Authentic, I harp on about this a lot, as I have been there and done that. I’ve had several different people in my life who have served as personal coaches and career mentors and it’s made such an enormous impact on my life and it’s positive direction.
Does Megan agree? I questioned her on if she thought having a coach or mentor to guide you along your life and career goals is helpful? “There are two types of people who hire a coach, people who are at the top of their game and what to stay there or people who aspire to be at the top of their game and want to get there as fast as they can. Coaching isn’t for everyone but for the right person it will help them make sound decisions, take effective actions, resolve challenges in the most effective way possible and learn from the process, so they can repeat it whenever they need”.
“I have had some amazing Managing Directors who have coached me through business. They have helped me strive for more, get out of my comfort zone and focus on my desired outcomes. They have also helped me to brainstorm business ideas by having a different perspective. It helps to have someone knowledgeable and able to guide you and keep you on track and focused. Coaching is one great element but networking groups also assist. Its important to have like-minded individuals coming together who are experiencing the same issues or concerns and able to help each other achieve in your career”.
Megan also shared her advice for women who feel they could be, or do more. “Take the time to evaluate what you want from your career and create a plan to get there. If you need assistance be sure to reach out to a coach to help you define your next more and get you on the right track. The sky is the limit and the only person holding you back is you”.
So does Megan have a quote, a motto or a piece of advice she lives by?
“The secret to your success is you” – Megan Haigh
“This is a saying I created while planning my future success. If you plan and define what you wish to achieve, you can make anything happen”.
The “at home” Megan is a married mum of a teenage boy and a 60kg Alaskan Malamute named Sullivan. Growing up in the Shire and living here all her life, she’s certainly no stranger to the outdoors and outside of her office you can normally find her on the baseball field, soccer field, water skiing, snow skiing, mountain bike riding (MTB) on trails or enjoying an adrenalin hit with downhill riding at Thredbo. She’s also (in her words) “addicted to F45”. You can connect with Megan via her website at Executive Entourage or on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.