I have always enjoyed driving around London at night time so I can peak through the windows of every household, looking at their living rooms, kitchens, imagining what everyone is up to, what jobs they do, how their day was. I am a very curious person by nature and that’s probably why I love recruitment so much as I get all excited when I get to visit a new client at their offices. This is also why I once decided to become a Private PA.
I had worked in a press club for a few years which I really enjoyed but I was keen to find a role where I could work very closely with my principal both on the private & business side. I really wanted to understand someone’s needs and support that person entirely. I entered a completely different world which really fascinated me for a few years. I ended up working for a high profile businessman, always in the public eye and not always portrayed in the best of light. It was a surreal experience and I really understood what discretion and confidentiality meant. Working in a private household was a very intimate environment which I loved, but it also had its challenges… I wouldn’t say it was a particularly glamorous role, which it can sometimes be mistaken for. I often had to step in when the nanny would resign without giving any notice, or would work until midnight due to time difference when my principal was abroad. There was no HR department to speak to if my hours were getting out of hand- it was just me on my own dealing with each sensitive situation. Working as a Private PA really threw me in at the deep end and taught me a wide range of skills. It taught me how to be resilient, understand confidentiality and challenge my communication skills (I once had to ask two policemen if they could lower their voices on the street as they were disrupting my principal’s concentration whilst studying in her office above them). It also made me stronger particularly after having worked for an extremely demanding individual 24/7 and working under a lot of pressure, on my own.
As a recruitment consultant I always find it an interesting challenge to place Private PAs but I love it. We focus on personality fit for all of our roles but for Private PA roles it really has to be the perfect matchmaking and more. And when I get it right it is magic, the stars align in the sky (almost) and I know this is the start of a brilliant partnership between my client and her/his PA. I used to have a great relationship with one of my principals and we would travel together to LA, I would stay at her residence and she would introduce me to all of her friends, inviting me to her luncheons and parties. It was a lovely experience and we really developed a strong bond, she would also very often confide in me and I sadly witnessed a few difficult moments in her life too.
Being a Private PA was very intense and definitely not “just a job”. I recommend it to anyone looking for an adventure and someone who genuinely loves being a PA. You must also be ok working on your own and handle a variety of difficult and complex situations. Adaptability and resilience will also help you make the most of this unique role. Enjoy! I certainly did.