Celebrating Administrative Professionals: Award-winning Virtual Assistant Emma Boatman
In this month’s blog series, we are celebrating administrative professionals who are also successful business leaders. You can be a successful administrative assistant, executive assistant, virtual assistant, or remote assistant AND a successful business leader. The Association of Virtual Assistants is proud to have had the opportunity to interview some of the best in the industry and allow them to tell their stories in their own words.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Emma Boatman from Boatman Admin Services Ltd,
Emma has over 20 years of experience working in administrative and project management roles so starting a virtual administrative business seemed the logical step when she was looking for a career change. She loves helping small business owners follow their dreams and achieve more in their business by taking away the time-consuming admin tasks. With a passion for supporting small, local businesses, you’ll often find her running her meetings in an independent café rather than a chain. Who doesn’t love a good piece of cake?
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I was employed as a Clinical Research Associate in a pharmaceutical company and it was a role that I loved. I’d been at the company for 14 years. However, with a change of management, a lot of issues started to arise. I was told that I could no longer do my role as I didn’t have a ‘proper’ degree. This was despite having a post-graduate diploma in clinical research. After 4 months of sitting at my desk not being allowed to do my role, but not being given an alternative role, I decided to leave. Within this time I’d also experienced some bullying by a peer which wasn’t addressed despite my complaints.
I had no job to go to but my husband, John, needed admin help in his business, so I made a leap of faith!
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career?
I’ve been to the House of Lords not once…but twice with Boatman Admin Services. Both were part of winning awards that celebrated small businesses in the UK and the other was being in the top 100 female entrepreneurs in the UK for 2020. It was an amazing experience to be in a room with so many fellow business owners who all had the same mindset and drive.
Looking back, what do you think made you stand out as an administrative professional?
I’ve always been an organised person, even back at school. I was the one that organised all of our nights out or weekends away. When I worked in clinical trials, I was supporting 3 or 4 projects at once and could juggle different activities and priorities, coordinate disparate diaries, manage different egos and still deliver the product required. I’m never without a list…and if it’s not on the list, it doesn’t get done!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I absolutely could not have done it without my husband, John. He was the one that encouraged me to leave my old job and to work with him doing admin in his business as an independent financial advisor. When I left my old job, I had zero confidence in anything. I distinctly remember the first task he gave me was adding a name and address to a template letter and being in floods of tears as I was certain I couldn’t do it.
Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. How will you be celebrating Administrative Professionals’ Week?
As I do admin for my husband’s business, I’ll make sure I tell him in good time so that he can ‘help’ me celebrate.
I run a local VA Support Hub for all of the VA’s in my area so I’ll be arranging a get together that week so that we can celebrate together. I’ll be shouting their praises on social media – I’m a big believer in collaboration rather than competition. There’s plenty of work to go round so why wouldn’t we celebrate each other?
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
When I worked in the pharmaceutical industry, I started out in the admin team and worked my way up for 10 years. I loved the company but started to feel that I wasn’t being challenged. A clinical trials team was being set up and the Director who I was PA for at the time suggested I move over to the new team to be a Clinical Trials Administrator. I knew NOTHING about how a clinical trial ran or what was involved. I made the huge decision to do a post-graduate diploma in Clinical Research to help me better understand the job I was doing. It was the hardest thing I’ve EVER done! There were moments when I’d ask for help on assignments and my colleagues who’d be in the industry for years were even stuck!
Going to my graduation was one of my proudest moments – it made me realise just how much you can achieve if you really put your mind to it.
What would you say to someone just starting out on their assistant career?
As Nike would say, ‘Just do it!’. I was lucky that I had a big chunk of savings behind me but I never dismissed getting another employed job if it didn’t work out. What’s the worst that could happen?!
You are a person of great influence. Do you have any words of encouragement to share with our readers?
There’s SO many!
Don’t give up. There’s going to be times where it’s feast or famine within your business and that can be difficult to manage sometimes.
I think the biggest thing for me is knowing your boundaries. It’s all too easy when you’re running your own business to work every hour of the day. If you answer an email at 8 pm on a Saturday night, it might become expected by some clients. Set yourself some work time boundaries, just like you would if you had an office job.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for celebrating administrative professionals with us!
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