Executive Assistant of the Week: Chicago
Executive Assistant to C-Suite & Office Wrangler
HICKORY FARMS, LLC
Cindy is a veteran of administrative support, starting in her earliest years in support roles at IBM. These last 10 plus years, Cindy has served in support of high level executives, most often C-suite, where she has found her niche.
With Cindy’s down to earth attitude and strong work fortitude, she brings a balance to the office as not only a gatekeeper and representative of her C-Suite, but also someone who has valuable insight to the going’s on around her.
In her current role, Cindy supports the C-Suite of Hickory Farms, LLC, which includes the CEO, CFO, and COO as well as members of the Operating Committee. In addition to that, she has set up a travel program in the company and written a T&E policy as well! When that doesn’t keep her busy enough, Cindy also manages the office from a facilities aspect and oversees all office supplies needs across 4 locations.
When Cindy is not working, she is a new empty nester and longtime single parent of 3 grown and nearly grown kids and supporting them in their “adulting” quest, with the youngest finishing her degree in Psychology at Illinois State University. Cindy loves architecture and has recently joined the Chicago Architecture Center, hoping for some great behind the scenes looks at the treasures of this city.
Cindy will be one of the distinguished contributors at the ELS Forum: Chicago on January 16-17, 2019
Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud.
I was assistant to someone who was suddenly transitioned out of their role. The tidal wave that was thus set in motion during a pretty emotional time for those most impacted offered me an opportunity to help steady the ship – be thoughtful and mindful about what the immediate priorities were and step up and help make sure things were managed in a detailed and thoughtful direction – much to the relief of the NEW exec who had to step in to manage this role. I enjoyed being a “partner” and someone who could be calm in the eye of a storm, and I think I gained a lot of credibility and respect with those actions.
Tell us about a mentor who changed your professional life. What was it about this individual that left such a lasting impression?
I was Executive Assistant to a President/CEO who taught me that feedback was NOT an awful and terrible thing but more a very positive and rewarding thing because through feedback, one can learn and improve and grow and be even better at what it is they do. This person took very valuable time to “partner” with me – and we together figured out what worked and what didn’t for him – and I will always be eternally grateful. Now I often (quarterly maybe?) initiate the ask (How is everything going?” “What can I do better?” or “What would you like done differently?”) typically, 2 steps ahead of my executive even starting to think that perhaps there’s something needing correcting – giving them, and myself confidence in the work that I am doing.
Is the Executive Assistant role a long-term profession for you?
YES! I love being an Executive Assistant! Especially in C-suite or Senior Exec. Level – I very much enjoy the variety of tasks and projects that I am involved in affords. I appreciate working independently as well as partnering with smart and driven people. I learn a lot just being in the environment of these leaders. I have always been a “behind the scenes” type of personality. Heck, I even eloped when I got married – so while recognition is always appreciated, as is compensation, I do not need to be the center of attention in any way.
What is your favorite depiction of the EA role, accurate or not? (Mad Men, Veep, The Devil Wears Prada, Suits, etc.)
Bear in mind, this is entertainment, but I have to say I love the role of “Joan” in Mad Men. She is so in charge of her destiny and manages her people, executives, and peers with such confidence and “gumption,” strength, and cleverness – and I think she is having a great time (and a bit of a power ride) doing it!