“I’ll be honest with you, I feel like I’ve hit my dream job”

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Candice Golding is an up and comer in every sense of the term. It started with a dream for a career in administration, and has transformed into a success story that we can all take lessons from

Last year’s Executive PA Awards were an unqualified success. Held in Melbourne for the first time, we celebrated the finest EAs and PAs from around the world on one special occasion. Every year the awards bring out the best and brightest in the executive support industry, and every year we bring to light a very special group of professionals: the up and coming PA category. These people are in the early stages of their bright careers, and offer lessons to even the most senior EAs.

Candice Golding is one such individual. Runner-up for the Up and Coming PA of the Year award. She started her job as EA to the executive team and CEO board at Dr Jones and Partners Medical Imaging just a week before our interview. Candice sat down with Bennet Nichol, the editor of Chief of Staff to share her experience and the lessons she has learnt along the way.

Right from the get go, Candice knew she wanted to work in the administrative field. She had a very clear idea of what she wanted to do, and pursued it doggedly.

“I began in administration straight out of high school, I didn’t attend university, I didn’t even apply to attend university. I knew as soon as I finished year 12 I wanted to get straight into admin. I knew that’s what I wanted to do, I really enjoy customer service and that was the direction that I wanted to take my career into.”

But for a 17 year old straight out of school, finding work was no easy task. Candice went through a gruelling trail, interview after interview. Most teenagers would have given up at this point, but instead of turning away Candice learnt from her mistakes and used them to her advantage.

“I received an interview with Brentnalls SA, which is an accounting firm here in South Australia. They’re a mid-tier, or medium sized accounting firm, they had a junior business administrator position. I’d had so many interviews at this stage that I wasn’t even nervous. It got to the point where I’d answered the same questions so many times I’d honed my answers to more professional ones.”

“I got to a second stage interview with one of the partners, we had a good rapport and got along really well. I was with Brentnalls SA for two and a half years, I started out in the junior admin team, and I was promoted to their receptionist as well.”

Here, Candice found her true calling.

“At Brentnalls I was the junior admin person but I’d worked a lot with all of the personal assistants within the company and they were just so accomplished, and the knowledge they had in their role, they really inspired me. I was only there a couple of months and I said ‘that’s what I want to do.’”

Candice chuckled as she remembered thinking as a 17 year old, “that’s what I want to be when I grow up.”

After clocking her experience at Brentnalls, learning everything she could, Candice set her sights on the ladder. She wanted to move up and grow, but as we climb the ladder, some steps wobble. But in keeping with her tenacious attitude, it was just another opportunity to learn for Candice.

“I learnt the most and grew the most at a company called RDC partners, where my title was business services assistant, but realistically I was the PA to one of the partners and his broader team. I was there for a couple of years and I left there due to a merger with a larger company.”

“It wasn’t necessarily to do with the company, but rather because I was so young – at that point I was 22 – and the other PAs in the larger company just didn’t value me because of my age.”

Now Candice is a fully-fledged EA in her own right. She has worked at five different companies, and established herself within the industry as a truly talented individual. Now an EA at Dr Jones and Partners Medical Imaging, she feels like she’s hit gold.

“When I received the offer for this role, I was shocked, because it was incredible just getting the interview. You kind of have that self-worth thing: ‘it would be amazing to be offered that, but I’m not that good yet.’”

It seems that Candice’s opinion on herself wasn’t shared by her now-employer.

“I’ll be honest with you, I feel like I’ve hit my dream job. It’s the pinnacle of my career and I’m not afraid to say that!”

Exceedingly comfortable in her position now, Candice also shared with us some wisdom looking back along her career timeline, and also threw in some very interesting insights into what we can all do better.

“A couple of girlfriends of mine in previous positions have had a really difficult boss. When you’re working that closely with someone, you have to work hard on the relationship so it’s positive and working well. I think that’s not necessarily reflective of the EA.”

“Some people need to acknowledge that they’re difficult to work with and they need to be upfront with that. I think that’s where the problem lies.”

According to Candice however, things are changing for the better as EAs begin to hold positions of increasing power and influence.

“The balance of power has changed a little bit though. Executive assistants, instead of being lower or below the director or whoever their managing, they’re kind of on the same level now which is fantastic. It’s definitely a positive.”

Now an officially recognised and award-receiving EA, Candice was elated to attend the 2018 Executive PA Awards, and shares her experience with us.

“It’s still sinking in, it’s a little bit unbelievable. At the awards gala, when my name was called I couldn’t really believe it. Even though I had to walk up to the stage, and accept my award it’s still a bit surreal.”

“I am confident in my abilities, and I know that I’m a good worker, and I’m good at what I do, but to get the recognition from other people who I’ve never worked with before and they can see my value, that’s incredible. It’s a great feeling.”