Executive Assistant of the Week: Toronto

Ashley Manson
Executive Assistant to President & CEO
Tourism Toronto
 
With almost 5 years’ experience managing C-suite and senior executives in various industries, my extensive experience has allowed me to work closely with senior management from start to finish on numerous items including corporate governance, corporate communications, strategic project management, meeting management, itinerary creation and event planning. Throughout my career, my primary focus has been on adding value to my managers day-to-day through task prioritization, strict attention to detail, effective planning and executing, exceptional delivery and dependable performance.
 
Presently, I am Executive Assistant to Johanne R. Bélanger, President and CEO at Tourism Toronto. Our mission is to “lead the world to Toronto — Canada’s downtown — growing our visitor economy” and my mission is to strategically partner and effectively support her so that she can meet the company’s daily business objectives and accomplish what she does best. Outside of pursuing a career managing C-suite executives, I am passionate about women’s empowerment, street style fashion, human rights and all things Toronto!
 
Ashley will be one of the distinguished contributors at the ELS Forum: Toronto on March 6-7, 2019
 
1) Why is the Executive Leadership Support Forum important for Executive Assistants?
 
Just like how CEOs attend conferences and trainings for executives, EAs need opportunities to learn, share and network with peers who understand their experiences too. Toronto is lacking a strong EA network, especially a network of millennial EAs, so it’s refreshing to be able to attend the ELS Forum which is specifically geared toward experienced, career-driven EAs working in today’s globalized world. The ELS Forum drew my attention and support because it facilitates engaged professional development sessions that are relevant, inspirational, practical and thought-provoking. Today’s EA is more like a strategic partner and less like a secretary, meaning we need professional development opportunities that allow us to hone in on the skills necessary to navigate the tasks and scenarios that dominate our day-to-day. Admin Assistant seminars aren’t enough for EAs to attend; The ELS Forum focuses on sophisticated, intricate and complex topics affecting us which is far more beneficial and exciting.
 
2) Name one thing you hope to learn or discuss with your peers at the ELS Forum?
 
I’d like to discuss the future of the EA role and what that might look like so that we can start preparing for long-term career growth now as opposed to being caught flat-footed later on. In doing so, I’d like to learn more about what courses/trainings have been worthwhile contributors to my peer’s careers, how they’re incorporating innovation into their roles, and how they’re positioning themselves to be respected as strategic contributors to their organizations.
 
3) In your mind, what is one tool you can’t live without or find especially helpful in your position?
 
I can’t live without access to my email and my executive’s calendar. I love Doodle Poll for finding meeting times that work for a large group of executives, and I love Certify for submitting expense reports to my finance team.
 
4) Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting your career?
 
Pay attention to what you’re good at. Pursue something that allows you to utilize your natural talents and build upon them. Participate and volunteer for as many activities/projects as possible to gain new skills and work with new people. Always be on time (shows that you’re reliable)! Be someone that others want on their team. Dress for the position you want (when in doubt, over-dress).
 
5) Are there any blogs, books, articles or online forums you recommend reading?
 
I follow the ELS Forum and The Assistants Hub on LinkedIn.
 
Blogs:
ELS Forum
Whole Assistant
ExecAssistance.com
Biancabass.com
 
Podcasts:
Simon Sinek & Monique Helstrom’s interview on the Be the Ultimate Assistant podcast
Damsel in the 6ix podcast – career & lifestyle from a millennial female living in Toronto’s perspective
 
6) How do you define success within your role as an Executive Assistant?
 
To me, success is when my executive makes a request and it’s already been taken care of. It’s anticipating needs and delivering. It’s so satisfying knowing that I planned ahead and it payed off. It’s my job to effectively support my executive so that she can focus on what she does best…meet and exceed the business objectives of the organization. To me, this is what being a strategic partner looks like.