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From PA to VA – How I became a Virtual Assistant (by accident) Part 1

From PA to VA - How I became a VA (by accident) - Part 1So how did I become a Virtual Assistant?  In 2001, I answered an advert in my local paper for a part-time secretarial job for a semi-retired lawyer. I had my dog walking business at the time but decided that it would be good to keep up with my office skills so I went for an interview.  His name was Michael and he had a variety of work for me. He told me that he’d gone through a string of PAs but none had lasted and he really wanted someone to stay the course with him. We decided to give it a try.

It became apparent, quite quickly, that Michael was very particular about how he liked things done and could get into a flap quite easily if he was overloaded with work.  But he was very straightforward about his requirements.   I appreciate someone who is straight talking about what they want, and who always respects my time and efforts.  It therefore took no time for us to forge a strong working relationship.

We shared a similar sense of humour too so we got to the point where I could shout (in jest) at him if he was being overly ridiculous about something and it would make him laugh and calm down (in fact it was common for him to start a sentence with ‘don’t shout at me but…’). I had a little office at the top of his house but the household was quite noisy and I sometimes found it hard to concentrate.

From Personal Assistant to Virtual Assistant

Eventually I told him I needed to work from home (so became a VA without realising it).  We had a clear system set out from the start and this enabled me to get all of his admin work done without him having to worry about it.  Once he’d dictated correspondence and other instructions he could forget about it, knowing I’d have it all finished within the agreed time period.  We worked very well together.

When I became ill in 2009 I couldn’t work for him anymore. By that time the legal work had long stopped and it was only private correspondence that I dealt with for him. I’d showed him how to use email so many times but he never really got it and preferred to dictate letters.

He managed to do his own correspondence then, in the main, although occasionally would still ring and ask if he could send me a tape to transcribe for him. I always did, and it was a nice way for us to stay in touch.

When I moved back to Hertfordshire in 2013 I started doing a little more for him again. Not a huge amount but he was still quite active, they travelled a lot and he was always making arrangements to see friends in the various countries that he had homes and/or relatives in.

The last time we spoke was around October 2016, he rang me but he couldn’t remember why. We laughed with each other though and it was good to catch up.

On 2nd January 2017 his grandson called me to tell me he had passed away suddenly. He was 85 and hadn’t been in the best of health but it was still such a shock to hear the news.

So 2017 started for me with a heavy heart, but I’m happy to have known Michael, happy to have shared so many laughs with him over the years and I know I will always remember him with a smile.  And of course without him, I may never have decided to become a VA, even if it was all by accident…

Part 2 here.

Virtual Assistant

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