Victoria Braithwaite- EA to Chief Operating Officer, Farfetch
With 10 years of experience in the luxury fashion industry and 5 years as a top level Personal Assistant. Victoria is currently the Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer of Farfetch, an online luxury fashion retail platform that sells products from over 700 boutiques and brands from around the world.
“My role is extremely varied and fast-paced, and this is the most enjoyable part of my job, every day is the different!
My boss is very inspirational and I’m privileged to work alongside him. I manage his time, schedule and his priorities which enables him effective in his role and focus on high priority tasks. I have many responsibilities including acting as a first point of contact, dealing with email correspondence and phone calls, managing diaries, organising meetings, appointments and events. I am also able to be involved in confidential business projects and responsible for booking and arranging all complex travel for my boss.”
Describe your job in 3 words:
Fast-paced, challenging and exhilarating
How did you first become a Personal Assistant?
I transitioned naturally from luxury retail management to a PA. I noticed that I was extremely organised and had a flair for lifestyle management.
Was there one particular moment that you remember that this was the career path for you?
I was working at Moncler as a Concession Manager and a client strongly advised me to become a PA. I began to help him with various Private PA duties to gain experience.
What’s the best part about your job?
Being able to deliver and exceed expectations. I love having the ability to make someone’s life easier and more manageable in every way possible. It’s extremely rewarding! I also love that I wake up for work every day feeling happy. I have to thank the CEO for creating such a wonderful culture at Farfetch.
And the worst?
I don’t have any bad experiences, but just not always being able to switch off from work, especially when I’m on holiday. I’m such a workaholic!
Describe a typical day; what work does it entail, what hours do you work, and what problems do you face?
We have a flexible working environment, but typically 9am-6pm. I tend to start work remotely before arriving at the office and work past 6pm – naughty! Every day varies, I could be booking complex travel, then creating presentations, managing offsites or training staff. It’s quite hard to stop for lunch sometimes.
If I wanted to be a PA, what experience would you suggest I get?
I would suggest having good administrative skills to start and a can-do attitude. Starting off in a more Junior PA role will provide you with all the insight you need, be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in.
Without revealing too much detail, what is the wackiest request you’ve ever been asked to do?
At my previous employer, I organised a UK celebrity event. The DJ was extremely late and I had to cover him, the guest really enjoyed the music I played. Good thing I had recently learnt how to mix!
How do you find a healthy work/life balance?
At Farfetch, flexible working and work from home is encouraged. For example it allows individuals to attend important appointments, leave a little earlier for weekly yoga classes, or collect the kids from school. I plan out my personal events in my diary, this allows me to make time for myself.
If money were no object, what career would you be in and why?
A combination of things…a serial traveller, a full-time food reviewer, and assistant to Rihanna – I think that’s achievable!
What are your go to websites/resources that help you with your day to day tasks?
I use a range of websites and apps. I use Skyscanner for cost efficient travel, I use the Instagram search function to explore venues I plan to book for my boss. I also use World Time Buddy for setting up meetings with multiple time zones and travel.
What key skills/courses would you recommend for other PAs looking to progress in their careers?
I would recommend having good timekeeping, impeccable organisational skills, attention to detail, flexibility and superb communication skills. Having a high level knowledge of Microsoft Excel and PowerPoint is also key if you have a genius boss like mine!
Finally, any other advice?
Be confident, don’t be afraid to make decisions and take risks. Ask questions and learn. It’s very important to have know about the person/business you work with. This will enable you to be successful in your role. Connect and build relationships with as many contacts possible, as you may need their help along the way.