Welcome to Danielle Francis’ story! Enjoy reading about her high-level support to senior executives and how she goes the extra mile both inside and outside of the office.
Talk us through your career journey to date…
My first ever job was actually as a waitress, and I always say this gave me a great foundation for dealing with customers and working as part of a team. I then moved on to work at a mortgage brokers for a number of years, running the office and supporting the Founder, which I enjoyed right up until the market crash in 2009. It was then that I decided to change from a client facing role to more behind the scenes work at the Financial regulator – at the time the FSA, which later became the FCA. This was where I spent 10 years working my way up from a contract Administrator to PA to the Chairman. After 7 years at Chairman level I had supported 2 Chairman and seen many changes in CEO and structure. I felt very fulfilled by this role but wanted something different, so I went back into the market and back to a client facing organisation.
And where are you currently working?
Currently I am working at Ankura, a management consultancy based in the City. I work for the Chairman of EMEA & APAC, a role newly created in August 2019. Outside of the US, we have offices in London, Dubai, Qatar, Hong Kong, Singapore, Perth and Sydney. As you can imagine this means we are constantly juggling time differences and a great deal of travel! I also support our new Head of People Advisory for EMEA & APAC, which is really interesting as it puts my HR qualifications to good use, as well as adding a different dynamic to my role.
It’s clear to see that you’re great at what you do given the amount of awards you’ve won and been nominated for…
Thank you so much! It really is such an honour to be recognised in the Business support industry for all my hard work and effort. I’ve been lucky enough to be nominated twice for the London PA Awards, winning the Communication award in 2017. I’ve also been shortlisted for a number of Miss Jones PA Awards and PA Life Awards over the last few years, winning the 2018 Miss Jones PA Award for Outstanding Achievement.
We know you get involved in a lot of extra activities outside your day to day role. Please tell us more about this
I lead the Charity Committee for the London office, and sit on the Social Committee, so my role has lots of different aspects to it and I get to work on a number of projects as well as providing day to day EA support. Charity and helping others is something that has always been highly important to me, and since joining Ankura I have put a number of new initiatives in place in the London Office. Firstly, we did a fair nomination and voting system for our 2020 charity of the year, with Neurosciences Research Foundation winning. I have then scheduled fundraising events for this year to raise as much money as possible for them. In addition, I have implemented a foreign currency charity box, with our staff travelling so often, it made sense for them to have somewhere to donate their spare foreign change. We have then partnered up with a provider who will convert this into cash and donate directly to the charity. Finally, I created a food drive for Hackney foodbank, which began as a Harvest Festival idea and we have now rolled out quarterly. Not only do we do a collection for them, but we also send staff to assist in their warehouse with organising donated goods, so we volunteer our time as well as goods. For the Social Committee, I have delved into my network of contacts at various venues in and around the City to arrange work events, with a focus this year on activity and team based events.
And what are your hopes and dreams for the future?
I love what I do, and I hope to continue to provide high level support to Senior Executives. In the ever changing world of technology, I believe it’s important to keep learning and developing your skills to stay top of your game and adapt in line with these developments.
On a more personal note, I hope to continue to speak at Business support events and share my knowledge and experience. I have been privileged to speak across the UK over the last few years including at The Office Show, Global PA Association Annual Conference and various HAYS events, which is always a personal challenge for me, very nerve wrecking but so rewarding. In addition, I mentor various PAs in the industry and have done for many years, and I hope to do more of this. I think it’s another great way of giving back and helping others in the Business Support community really achieve their goals and feel supported.