I work for ... the director of the Hayward Gallery: Sharon Kent is PA to Susan Ferleger Brades

I am Australian and only intended to stay in England temporarily, but then I fell in love and married. When my temping agency gave me this job I was looking for part-time work, but it quickly became obvious that this was a full-time position. I was a little frightened at the prospect of working for someone at such a high level. I could see that Susan was unbelievably busy, and initially I thought that I would never be able to keep up with her. However we hit it off well. She's very frenetic, but the more crazy her workload becomes, the calmer I try to be. Deep down I do get a bit panicky sometimes, but I don't let it show.

I started working for Susan when she was made director. I had worked with her for a year before my job was advertised, but by that stage I had formed such a strong attachment to her that I hoped that no one else would apply - luckily, they didn't.

Susan is American, tall and very imposing. She dresses in smart business suits with nippy skirts, bright tights and high heels, and she always has immaculate nails. Her bangles are one of her trademarks; people know when she's around because they can hear the jangling. The Hayward is a passion for her and she wants the best for it. She's very involved in plans for the site development of the gallery which will go ahead if we receive the funding. But when she's not working she's devoted to her family; her son's annual school concert, for example, takes priority over everything else.

Before I worked here I didn't have a strong interest in contemporary art and had no knowledge of the Hayward or even the South Bank, so it's been quite a learning curve for me. In fact I think it's important that I don't have aspirations to join the art world, because what Susan needs is a good assistant, rather than a PA who wants to run exhibitions. I was really surprised to see how many people there are in the art world; I had always imagined it to be quite a small network. When I was new to the job I asked a caller whether he was going to be present at the Howard Hodgkin exhibition. He was astonished, and answered, "But of course. Don't you know who I am?" He turned out to be David Sylvester, the distinguished art critic. Now I always make sure that I am suitably impressed when an eminent person calls.

I thought that I wouldn't be able to handle formality, but I think that my being Australian allows me to be more casual and laid-back in my approach - if I can make a joke, I will. I recently met the sculptor Anish Kapoor, having spoken to him many times on the phone, and we both laughed because we'd each expected the other to look quite different. Exhibitors tend to look more like normal people than weird artists.

Susan is very methodical and highly efficient. Her attention to detail is remarkable considering the speed at which she works. There are days when everyone in the office wants an appointment with her, and it's up to me to prioritise the requests. She travels a lot and often has to fly somewhere at short notice. Luckily I've got a good travel agent, but the organisation of trips can still be difficult. When Susan had to go to Tokyo I bought a map of the city and worked out how she would get from one place to another, booking her into meetings with gallery directors accordingly. I felt like a virtual traveller. She didn't have time to be briefed on her itinerary until the night before she left, but apparently the trip went like clockwork.

Our offices are on the top of the Royal Festival Hall and we have a wonderful view of the Thames, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. In summer time it's a lovely place to be, although the building heats up like an oven. One of the nicest things about the office is our rule that if anyone goes away they bring back food for everyone else.

I really like working for a woman which came as something of a surprise after having heard so many bad tales of female bosses. Susan respects me and unlike a lot of male bosses she takes care of her personal appointments and would never ask me to do anything domestic, like picking up her dry- cleaning. She is always apologetic when asking me for something like a cup of tea, although I tell her there's no need for her to be.

Susan and I laugh together a lot. She has a little system of sticking cat stickers on to my computer if I have done a job particularly well, rather like giving me gold stars. I really couldn't imagine what could happen to make me pack up and leave her.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas