We sat down with Amanda Best, Executive Assistant to several PCC board members and a member of the PCC Wellbeing Group.
Hi Amanda! So what's your job and what does that involve?
I’m an exec assistant to four of the PCC board members – Vincent Gidley, Nick Barbeary, Amanda Beesley and Leon Bradley. That can involve organising their inbox and diaries, travel and other activities on a day-to-day basis, and the support I provide is different for each person. For some of them I also support their wider teams. I also manage the reception at PCC Nottingham, plus some ad hoc support to some of the managers – hotels, business cards, that kind of thing. On top of that, I’m also involved in the PCC Wellbeing group and support the board meetings for Paragon Workplace Solutions.
That’s a lot of different hats! What’s your career journey so far?
I’ve done a few things – I started off in accountancy, then went into secretarial work in London, then did a marketing certificate. After that I formally trained as a PA, and briefly moved to working and qualifying in HR –at Paragon, before finally becoming an Executive Assistant. I’ve tried lots of different things; lots of office jobs are interesting when you start but there’s nothing as varied as this role. You get involved in everything and I’m a bit nosy, which helps! I’ve been with this company for 13 years now and in that time there’s been so many changes.
There certainly has! What’s the biggest change you’ve seen?
For me, the biggest change has been what’s happened since covid. I moved from a Nottingham-based role to more of a wider business role. Now, I can be based at home because everyone else is all over the place, and I can just as easily work at the other offices. I prefer having this role to be honest – it lets me get involved in more things and meet lots of new people. I get bored quickly!
What are you involved in across PCC?
Initially, five years ago a colleague and I at Nottingham started the Wellbeing programme there. It took off and grew, and we were asked to roll it out across the UK. At first it was simple things like getting fresh fruit delivered to sites and awareness campaigns. Then we took on doing the monthly calls and started to get wellbeing ambassadors at other sites too. I’m still a wellbeing ambassador and mental health first aider and manage a few projects, but I’m no longer the overall coordinator of it because it’s too big now. A lot of what we do doesn’t cost much but has a big impact.
You also send out the ‘Daily Giggle’ emails to all staff – how did that come about?
It started when Covid first hit and there was lots of uncertainty. At Nottingham we were asked for ideas on how to cheer people up and I thought, what about a daily joke? Initially I just did it for our colleagues at Nottingham and added some wellbeing information into it too. Then, I got a message from Jeremy Walters, saying the Board really liked the Daily Giggle emails and asked me to expand it to all staff.
Where do jokes come from?
Some staff send me them – I’ve got a little folder of them on my computer, then I’ll also have a look through Instagram or Facebook. There are a lot of jokes out there, but you have to be careful. You can’t include anything too controversial. Basically they end up being cheesy, but that’s ok! I was speaking to some of the people on the Young Paragon network from around Europe – we were working on some wellbeing initiatives and they asked if they could start receiving the emails too. It’s strange really – over the last 18 months I’ve met more people in Paragon than in the previous 11 years put together.
Anyway I’m going to move on from the work questions now. What did you have for your tea last night?
I had the traditional spag bol, homemade. I really don’t like cooking, even though I send out all those recipes in the wellbeing messages. I do like eating though. My husband and I both hate it, so we split the cooking duties between us. He does the weekends.
Can’t beat a spag bol. What’s your favourite biscuit and why?
Hmm. Probably something really boring, like a dark chocolate digestive. I like chocolate but not too much sweet stuff. They have to be kept in the fridge. Everything goes in the fridge – we’ve always got a collection of Freddos in there. They’re good because they’re only 95 calories. I used to do all the Slimming World stuff, but I’ve gone back to counting calories and putting them into an app.
You and previous Introducing interviewee Lee Bennett would probably get on – he also puts everything in his fridge. Do you have a favourite word?
‘Decadent’. I don’t know why, I just like the way it sounds.
Good answer! What superpower would you choose?
Invisibility. I suffer a bit with social anxiety, so being able to go wherever I want would be great. My daughter’s dragging me to a KSI concert soon and I’m dreading it, so invisibility would be quite handy for that.
I don’t know who KSI is but I suspect they wouldn’t be my cup of tea either. Where’s your favourite place you’ve ever been?
I’d say the Maldives. It wasn’t full of people, and it’s the only place that’s ever lived up to what the brochure looked like – it’s beautiful. We went for our honeymoon in 2004.
Who’s your hero?
I’ve never been big on looking up to famous people or celebrities, that kind of thing. It’d probably be someone personal like my parents, just for how they raised us and worked hard.
Excellent choice! Thanks Amanda!