by Willliesha Morris
Previously published in the July 2015 issue of OfficePro magazine.
Leslie Adkins’ administrative career began about 25 years ago in Seattle, continued in Southern California and back. So her West Coast career roots are embedded in the tech community.
Precor. Microsoft. Her previous jobs at big tech companies led to her new job as an executive assistant for the vice president of Amazon’s growing web services department. The department specifically deals with elastic cloud computing. Adkins explained video streaming services need space for programming but only for a limited time for viewers.
She fell into tech, but stayed because “I do like the fact that there’s so much happening and they’re so innovative and how it’s changing our world a lot,” Adkins said. “That was one thing that really struck me when I started looking at Amazon is just what they’ve accomplished in the last 10 years.” She’s attracted to the progressive and up-to-date work environment.
“Her No. 1 tip for getting such a high-level gig? Being “super organized” and knowing how to gain trust. She said people will depend on you to keep track of projects, follow through and get things done.”
Adkins went through approximately 10 interviews, some of which she requested herself. She really wanted to be sure this was the right job for her. It was a big change and a different commute. Now that she’s settled into the job, she’s thankful for those interviews. She talked with other executive assistants starting with the initial phone screening.
“(The phone interview) is really more focused on the realities of the job and some specific skills, giving you a sense of what it’s really like,” she said. A friend works there, and that reference gave her the extra push to land the job.
Loved ones were concerned she’d be under a lot of pressure and overworked because of Amazon’s size and 24-hour presence. She was relieved to discover this wasn’t the case, especially since her boss has children. Adkins noted tech companies understand the importance of flexibility.
The department’s goal is to gain about 100 new employees in the next year, so Adkins compared part of her job as a space planner to fitting pieces into a puzzle. She has to work with recruiting to get office space for new hires. But she said nearly three quarters of her day is working with other executive assistants to plan meetings and events. This variety is what she enjoys about her day.
So what is her No. 1 tip for getting such a high-level gig? Being “super organized” and knowing how to gain trust. She said people will depend on you to keep track of projects, follow through and get things done. She said admins need “personal strength to be assertive enough to jump in and make decisions and make changes.”
Adkins called herself a “master juggler” and knows when to say no. Though the multiple projects she takes on seem to happen magically for her coworkers, she knows it requires a large amount of behind-the-scenes effort.
While in the past, the profession may have been misunderstood, she said that’s changing. Admins are getting the attention they deserve.
With a laugh, she said, “I certainly found that higher-ups are now pretty darn appreciative of their admins.”
Williesha Morris is a virtual assistant and a freelance writer that helps other small business owners and freelancers find their writing voice. You can find her at MyFreelanceLife.com and on Twitter @willieshamorris.