Lauren Calvert is Founder and Director of The Well-Suited Group, a company which provides a premium executive support service for chairs, non-executive directors and C-Suite executives.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve been a corporate Executive Assistant for over 15 years, working both in Australia and the UK. I actually began my career working in elite sport for the Olympics and other international sporting events including Rugby.
For the past five years I’ve been working as the EA to the Managing Partner of one Australia’s leading corporate communications firms, the role is demanding and I love what I do, but last year I launched The Well-Suited Group (TWSG) after recognising a gap in the market for experienced EAs, seeking workplace flexibility and high-level execs looking for the same.
Neither party wants or needs to work Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm and that is TWSG’s appeal. We support Chairs, Non-Executive Directors, C-Suite execs and entrepreneurs who are looking for expert administrative assistance, just not on a full time basis.
Essentially my business opens the door to mothers and carers who are former full-time EAs, PAs and admin support staff and are seeking a flexible pathway back to work. This group has a huge amount of experience and plenty to offer professionally, they were just previously sidelined by the requirements of a 40-50+ hour working week.
One thing I hear time and time again is how hard it is to find good people, however throughout my career I have met and worked with a lot of them. Many are now members of the TWSG network.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
As the Founder and Director of TWSG, I work with our clients to create an individualised flexible support solution which not only offers personal 1:1 executive assistance it guarantees a premium level of service from a handpicked member of our network. I have personally vetted all of our EAs as highly skilled and having over 10 years’ experience.
Working as full time EA and running a start-up – let’s just say it’s busy! No two days are ever the same. Unfortunately due to COVID-19 budgets have tightened and we have seen executives cutting back on overhead costs which has resulted in many EAs losing work. I am so proud of the work we are doing at this time – especially helping those who have lost their jobs to pick up adhoc work for senior executives, who are also dealing with the disruption of losing key support personnel.
My evenings are mostly spent writing to do lists, blogs, marketing and social media content to promote our work and TWSG network.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Yes – it’s not easy working as a EA and running a business, but I launched TWSG to create flexible and meaningful employment while also disrupting the traditional way administrative roles are designed and performed.
Flexibility for me is the opportunity to WFH (instead of long days in the office) and the chance to get out for a run during the day. It always makes me feel so much fresher, being able to take a break and step away from the screen!
Thankfully technology today allows us to do our jobs from anywhere, we no longer need to be in the same office to be effective in our roles. In fact, if we could take one positive away from COVID-19, it’s proven that flexible work, works!
Women, in particular, have been seeking increased workplace flexibility for many years; whether that is mothers returning to the workforce hoping to balance family commitments or those seeking less hours to increase their ability to care for a family member, which was my own experience.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance is the ability to ‘switch off’ and have a meaningful amount of time away from it all. For me, that spans from something as simple as a run or a coffee with a friend, through to a few hours of being screen free on Sunday.
My business really is my passion though so to ensure I can perform at my best – and stay true to my own values – I’m really organised and I always plan (and plan again!) for the week ahead. I stick to a routine, take breaks when I need to, and keep my mind and health in check through meditation and mindfulness practice.
I’m also incredibly social so allocating free time to spend time with family and friends is equally important to me.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started/stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
As career EA, I often prioritise my executives’ needs before my own, as it is a part of my role to ensure what needs to be done, is done! In the last 12 months I’ve set better work boundaries. I have given myself set work hours and am prioritising tasks so that I’ll never miss a deadline, but importantly, I’ve also been disciplined enough to leave work that I know can wait.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read You Can Do It! by Paul Hanna – an oldie but a goodie! As a Lady Start Up I took a lot out of reading, Emma Isaacs’, Winging It and as a graduate of the Mamamia Lady Start up course, I enjoy listening to their podcasts.
I’m also obsessed with Ted Talks – anything motivational or related to business has my interest – my favourite, being “The power of vulnerability” by Brené Brown.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
As an EA – I obviously can’t live without my phone! Zoom (for obvious reasons) and I love Trello for to-do lists and managing multiple clients effectively. I was gifted a pair of Air Pods for Christmas – totally hands free, they are never out of my ears!
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Ita Buttrose. She built such an amazing career for herself in the media, she started out in a time when the industry was really, really challenging for women. At 78 she is now the Chair of the ABC and manages to go to Pilates every week – I attended an event where she was the guest speaker and she said, “When you love what you do it’s no longer a job, it’s your passion!”. It really resonated with me and I find her to be such an inspiration.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
Sometimes it can take your life being turned upside down to realise what it is that you really value.
For me, it was a real need to have increased flexibility in the way that I worked and that realisation came to me as I was travelling between Sydney and my family home in Forster on the NSW North Coast to help my mum care for my dad before he passed away.
I also recognised that many of my friends and former colleagues would also benefit from part time flexible roles which they could do from home while balancing family commitments.
Plenty of people and their businesses have had to pivot and change the way they work during COVID and we’re seeing that through flexible/ remote working.
I know it may sound cliched, but I think it’s really important to find your passion. Take the first step to set goals, prioritise and make plans to achieve them, whether that be in your personal or work-life. Having a sense of purpose allows you to set good boundaries and channel your energy towards what you really want out of life!
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