21 years with GE and counting
Meet Laura Catchesides, office manager, admin team manager and PA to our CEO, Richard Kleiner. Laura has been a part of the GE family for over 20 years and in that time, she has seen the office change location, the team grow to 140 and a pandemic transform the way the firm functions.
In our latest team story, we discuss what it takes to be a PA to a CEO and the road that led her to where she is today.
1. What is your current role?
“Currently, I’m the office manager of 73 and 52 Cornhill, the Cornhill admin team manager, and personal assistant to our CEO, Richard Kleiner. My role is high pressured, mega fast-paced and a 24/7 job.”
“I’m Richard’s first port of call in his every day, meaning I organise, plan and manage his work life as the head of the firm. As well as this, I manage the admin team which has recently merged after the closure of our Whetstone office, meaning we are now a team of ten. Finally, I manage our two Cornhill offices meaning myself and my team have been responsible for transforming the spaces into Covid-19 compliant environments for the GE team.”
2. What do you enjoy most about your role?
“I really enjoy working for Richard Kleiner our CEO. Over the years we have developed a great working relationship and it makes me proud knowing I make a difference in a busy CEO’s schedule and keep the cogs turning for the business. It’s such a unique role and no two days are the same, meaning you often have to just roll with the punches! One day could be focused on helping my admin team or running our CEO’s day and the next could be handling a facility issue. It’s a high-pressured role but it’s this kind of environment I thrive in.”
“I have really enjoyed being a part of the GE journey and being able to see my own team grow. I love taking new team members under my wing and pushing them to achieve their best in the firm and beyond. At GE I have learned so much, built a wonderful team and formed some great friendships.”
3. Have you always wanted to work in Office Management or as a PA? If not, what motivated you on to your current career path?
“I started at GE aged just 16, working as a junior in the Financial Services department at the time. I then moved to be a receptionist, covered secretarial work and was then asked to be Richard’s PA when his assistant left for maternity leave – and I’ve been in the role ever since! I guess you could say I fell into my role today after working in several areas of the business, but the role I’m in now is best suited to my working style and where I feel I develop the most.”
4. Why did you choose GE?
“At 16, I applied for a variety of roles, including the junior position in the GE Financial Services department at our Harley Street office. The office was extremely tight knit and felt like a family, something that has made me stay with the company all these years.”
“Moving to Cornhill meant that the business was expanding, and it was great to welcome new members of the team and watch that family grow. Despite us now being a large team, I think working at GE you really do feel a part of something bigger.”
5. What have been your biggest challenges so far?
“With regards to the office management and admin team management side of my role, the pandemic has definitely been the biggest challenge. A big part of my role is taking care of health and safety, so myself and my team had to try and keep track of the ever changing guidance and prepare the office accordingly..”
“Alongside of this, we closed our Whetstone office so the team based there had to move across to our Cornhill location. It was a major task which included a complete clear out and reconfiguration of our working spaces, but of course, I couldn’t have done any of this without the help of my fantastic admin team and the support and guidance of the exec board and other partners.”
“The pandemic also meant that, along with the rest of the parents in the UK, I had to juggle my heavy workload around home schooling and full time childcare– now that was a challenge and a half!”
6. What has been your biggest achievement?
“Although Covid-19 has been a huge challenge for me, it has also been the most rewarding task. For me, rallying my team together in such uncertain times and getting the office ready for our colleagues to return to the office safely has been completely worth it. My team have been my absolute rock and have been sharing some of my major responsibilities to make sure we get the job done.”
8. What are your goals for the future?
“In the future I hope to stay with GE and watch the family and business expand further, helping to nurture as many new starters as I can.”
9. What advice would you give others that are seeking to pursue a career in Office Management & PA?
“As an office manager/personal assistant no two days are the same. If you’re looking to a pursue a career in this area you need be able to handle a high-pressured, 24/7 role. The nature of the job means flexibility is key, you must be able to make the routine work for you. It’s challenging, but it’s also very rewarding. You’re responsible for keeping the CEO of a large company organised and their schedule running smoothly. The trick is, organisation, flexibility and building a strong team with the right people to support you – something I am proud to say I have created at GE.”