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Mentoring Session for Executive/Personal Assistants

Q &A with Enid Busolo
Meet Enid..
Enid Busolo is a Kenyan born mother of four girls. She is currently engaged in
consultancy, training and management assignments across Africa.
She has over 20 years work experience of which ten were as Personal
Assistant to the Group CEO of the largest Medical Insurance Company in East
Africa and Secretary to the Boards of the organization in Kenya, Uganda,
Rwanda, Tanzania and Zambia.
Enid is also a speaker on various topics that have seen her engage across
multiple disciplines including being a Certified Personal and Executive
Assistants Trainer, a Certified Counsellor and Mentor to many Assistants.
Enid holds a M.Sc. in Management and Organizational Development,(2016)
and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy
(1996) from the United States International University- Africa. She also holds
a Higher Diploma in Human Resource Management (2012).
Enid loves to travel and see new places, dance, listen to music and
O.P.A: What are the top 3 skills I require to succeed as an EA?
Enid: An EA needs a combination of skills to succeed in their roles as Strategic partners to their managers/supervisors. I would
say this; the 21st century landscape demands that an EA has :
1)the requisite skills (effective and efficient communication, developed Emotional intelligence, time and organizational
management skills, knowledgeable and understand their businesses etc),
2) ability to do their jobs
3) learning dispositions and attitude to be agile and adapt to changes as and when they occur.
O.P.A: Talkng about "strategic partnership, how do you cope with a boss who deliberately limits you to administrative
Enid: The very first thing you must do as an Assistant is to 'know' yourself and secondly, learn and understand the boss. Know
their temperaments - the inborn form of human nature (pre disposition) and their character - which is the emergent form
that develops through the interaction of temperament and environment. This helps you to know their personality that could
be either a Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic or Phlegmatic.
Once you know these, it becomes easier to manage him and hold conversations that would let him/her know that you would
appreciate more strategic duties rather than the routine admin tasks.
This leads to the most common yet ignored factor is success that is Communication. Let your boss know you would want to
take on some tasks or go ahead and do something extra ordinary such as redoing your filing system and share the success
with him or her.
*Relationship = Expectation Management*
Last but not least, if your boss continues to *ignore* you, seek new opportunities.
O.P.A: How do you manage a boss that makes you feel your opinion, ideas and suggestion does not count- in respect to
strategic partnership
Enid: Remember these 5 rules:
1) Be yourself
2) Be of value - don't wait to be told; take initiative from time to time
3) Be consistent
4) Be honest
5) Do what you say
These can be reinforced during your daily morning briefings and/or during your performance review meetings.
The other thing you could do is to wait for a moment when your boss is in an easy and good mood then discuss the matter.
Do not raise it when the Board is on his/her neck and expect good feedback.
There is a whole presentation we could do on holding difficult conversations with your boss.
O.P.A: Can you share your thoughts as it relates to handling or managing toxic colleagues/bosses/organizations. (You can
also share personal experience and how you handled the situation)?
Enid: I am very bold and speak straight so confronting a "mean" boss wasn't much of a problem. Remember, never become
confrontational - it must be a Win - Win situation no matter what.
There was this time that one of the MDs in one of the countries delayed his board report hence my compilation and onward
distribution to the Board was delayed for 2 days. The backlash was terrible and I honestly felt so small. Nonetheless, I
gathered courage during the Board meeting as I doubled up as the Secretary to all the 9 Boards in the conglomerate and told
the Directors exactly what happened in presence of the said MD. The Group CEO who was my direct boss tried to attack me
but I put my foot down. The said MD voiced my sentiments and apologised for the error and later at the office, the Group
CEO apologised to me too.
Because I was consistent , I received the ear and attention of the management and the Board members that made working
with some obnoxious managers bearable.
O.P.A: What APP tools should an Assistant always work with (compatible with Mobile Devices & PC's)
Enid: My take would be email, work social media pages and scheduling tools are the most important to sync on your PC and
mobile devices. This calls for great time management abilities otherwise if you don't segment your life, stress will set in.
My take would be email, work social media pages and scheduling tools are the most important to sync on your PC and mobile
devices. This calls for great time management abilities otherwise if you don't segment your life, stress will set in.
O.P.A: in the course of your professional career what other key role have you played directly in helping the organization
you work in grow aside your Job description.
Enid: Besides my JD, being in the medical and healthcare space meant I received on behalf of the CEO a myriad of concerns,
complaints etc that at times implicated some staff, managers and our contracted service providers. I took upon it myself to
investigate matters, brief the Group CEO and then handle client issues. To date including Friday last week, I still receive calls
from clients who believe I can help them receive support from the organization.
O.P.A: Have you ever motivated an EA to settle on his/her job role by sharing your experience(s) without fear or feeling
that they could take up your job in future if they are to learn all that you know?
Enid: Most of the current EAs at my last place of employment went through my induction especially in the area of Corporate
Governance and Board Management. I love to mentor and because I know and understand my value, I am not afraid if one of
my mentees shines. I know my input was valuable. Rather than compete, I prefer and enjoy to Collaborate.
O.P.A: What advise can you give to a PA/EA who also has HR skills/experience, but not recognised in this capacity by the
Enid: Any PA/EA can grow into any role. Remember that by virtue of you sitting around management, you have a lot of access
of information into the business that gives a glimpse of where the tide is heading and what opportunities are available
internally for growth. With that kind of ground, you must upgrade yourself to position for impact. Nonetheless, do and grow
into a role you enjoy.
O.P.A: For those interested in transitioning, what other roles can EA/PAs take up in organisations?
Enid: Branding and Communication expert, HR, Training, Learning and Development, Finance, Sales etc. The space is all yoursAttitude, Requisite training and skills and passion will propel you forward.
O.P.A: It was very brave of you to have stood up in a room full of CEOs and to defend your honour. How do you deal with a
superior/boss would not admit either publicly or privately that they are wrong?
Enid: At times you may need to get a confidant within management that the CEO listens to and use them to get your point
across. Do you know that as an EA you must understand office politics?
Secondly, if you have a strong HR Leader, tag them along in one of your performance review meetings and bring the issue up.
You must be very tactful though. It takes practice and courage
O.P. A: Did you ever feel like you were under valued? And you could be more than an EA/PA?
Enid: To be honest, I resigned in one job when I realised that I was dealing with a *monster* of a person. But now we are
very good friends. She actually looked for me because I resigned without a job because my peace of mind was more valuable.
I explained to her why I left and she told me that it was a turning point that no one ever dared told her that she mistreats
employees. Other times, I have requested meetings to express my displeasure. On being undervalued - again I bring it up
with conversations. However, I ensure that at all times my character is beyond reproach and that my work is always within
timelines and I keep my word. Hard but doable!
O.P.A: Do you have any parting words?
Enid: I must say that I am so glad we could share insights on some of the issues you experience in the course of your duties.
Remember, no one is you; be the best and learn and develop yourself daily. Let's grow our profession together
Bye for now and look forward to greater learning days ahead. Be very blessed
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