The PA Who Likes to Say Yes; When Your Boss Admits That Your Effiency Can Be Frightening, You Know You're Doing the Right Things. Jacky Hyams Speaks to a PA Who Took a Chance and Reaped the Rewards of More Responsibility

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THERE are times in your working life when you really do have to seize the moment. Last summer, Ranjay Atwal, 26, was happy enough in her job as PA and office manager to Mike Norman, managing director of Reed Learning. But after a year at the company's offices in Windsor, she knew she needed some sort of fresh challenge. She spotted an opportunity and quickly took the initiative.

"Our new division, Reed Training Professionals, had just taken on a new contract for Lloyds TSB," she recalls.

"The contract meant advertising and recruiting trainers for Lloyds TSB to train staff for management, call-centre jobs and financial sales," explains Atwal, who previously worked at a Windsor-based office equipment company for more than five years.

"I knew there would be an opening for someone to work as a project assistant on the contract and that I could successfully combine my PA and office-management roles with the project work. So when my annual review came up, I suggested to Mike that I take on

the extra project-assistant role and he was more than happy for me to do it.

It means I still work in the same office, so if the two roles suddenly overlap, there is no problem."

Atwal now spends about three days a week working on the Lloyds TSB project and the remaining two on her PA and office-manager duties.

"Basically, I'm available for both roles at any time," she says. "It is a multitasking role and a lot of it is organisational."

Liaising constantly with the trainers makes for much greater involvement in the work. "Being here as their point of contact means a lot more day-today communication," she explains. "I have to carry out reference and credit checks on the new trainers and I'm also responsible for their payment. A lot of the trainers work for themselves as limited companies, so they have a slightly different status to the average employee."

Trainers are paid a daily rate. "All the invoicing is done online and, at the end of each week, I authorise the time sheets and put through their payments. At the moment there are about 20 on the payroll.

I look after their accommodation and expenses, too, which also have to be processed and managed."

Her office-manager role involves liaising with equipment suppliers and generally ensuring that the Windsor office, housing some 30 Reed Learning employees, runs smoothly. …