One of our talented personal assistants, Coral Gardiner reveals what it’s like working virtually from AVirtual’s Cape Town Headquarters.
Previous experience: Sales Analyst | Sales Supervisor | Sales Coordinator | Excise Coordinator | Loan Administrator
Why did you decide to join AVirtual?
Initially it was the rather quirky advert I saw, but after meeting a couple of the people, and of course Richard (our Founder), I was sold. I had also never worked for a startup so thought it might be an interesting change from the corporate sector.
How would you describe an assistant’s role?
There are a few phrases which spring to mind – “never a dull moment” and “juggling many balls” being two. You need to be a people’s person first and foremost as the bulk of your job is making sure that you build a strong rapport with your clients. All of the assistants here at AVirtual have really great relationships with our clients’ and it is very rewarding to see how your skills and experience can add value not just to someone’s business, but also to their life.
How do you create an effective working relationship when you never meet your client face to face?
Once again I think the recruitment process is really key. The EAs and PAs employed at AVirtual are all naturally gregarious and extroverted, which is even more important when communicating over Skype or email. We really enjoy dealing with people and take pride in building relationships with our clients.
Which tasks are you most often delegated?
The top 5 tasks would be calendar and diary management, expense management and reconciliation, travel and accommodation bookings, research tasks and management of files and folders. I have also been asked to do tasks as diverse as sourcing a vegan cake and advising a client on which systems and applications would best suit his needs when setting up a new business. No two days are the same!
What do people not usually realise about virtual assistance?
There are extremely competent and experienced people who can add tremendous value to your life from all across the globe. The great thing about virtual assistance is that you get to tap into another country’s skill set and communicate with people from different cultures who can offer new perspectives. Just because we don’t work in-house with a company, it doesn’t mean we don’t put the same care and thought into our tasks. We all take a great interest in the companies we’re working for and in helping our clients to achieve their goals.
What are the biggest benefits of virtual compared to in house assistance, in your view?
The flexibility of paying for the hours you need versus employing a person full-time with all the responsibility that entails.
Having a resource pool to draw from as every Executive Assistant and Personal Assistant works in a team and also has access to specialised social media and IT teams.
What happens if you’re assigned something you can’t help with?
We will always go the extra mile to help our clients and it isn’t often we have to say ‘no’ to a task. Of course, if we genuinely felt that a task was out of our scope of experience we would be honest about it.
What’s the AVirtual office like? What can you see from the window?
The office is very funky. We have desk lamps, ‘standing’ desks, plants and great coffee. There is also a ‘gong’ which we use for celebrations and to welcome new members to our fast-growing team.
We are situated in a lovely building in a beautiful part of Cape Town called Westlake and the view is sublime. I’m currently watching the winter sky turn a lovely shade of pink over the Steenberg (which translates to ‘Mountain of Stone’) mountains.