Secretarial: An absolutely fabulous job
I Work for...; Natasha Boyd works for fiona macintosh, the editor of `Elle'
Wednesday 06 January 1999
My degree in organisational and industrial psychology meant that I was well placed to work in the personnel field, but it was by sheer good luck that I was offered a temping job with the Smash Hits publishers, Emap, who are also responsible for Elle magazine, my all-time favourite. I made a few key contacts within the company, and took the opportunity to send my CV around the building in the hope that I could remain with the company after my contract with personnel was over. It was a dream come true to be offered a temping job as PA to the editor of Elle. I was so excited that I immediately called all my friends, both in London and in Wellington.
I admit that I was nervous at the prospect of working with such glamorous colleagues, but I hadn't anticipated how down to earth and friendly they would be. I've had a fantastic run of bosses here - first there was Marie O'Riordan, the editor at the time, who guided me into my job, since I hadn't been a PA before. We got along so well that Marie asked if I would apply for the position on a permanent basis, which I don't think I would have dared do without her encouragement.
When Marie was promoted, I worked for Ian Birch, the editor-in-chief of Emap Elan, who stood in as acting editor for a while. While I thoroughly enjoyed working for Ian, I found the prospect of the new permanent editor's arrival both exciting and a bit scary. But everyone assured me that Fiona and I would hit it off, and the moment she arrived I knew they were right. She's Australian, attractive, outgoing, and yet highly professional, and I don't have a bad word to say about her. People joke about our Antipodean solidarity, but I think that it's fantastic that she has made such a huge success of her career within such a competitive industry.
People assume that all Antipodeans have a "no worries" attitude towards everything. In my case they are wrong, because I do get stressed. Admittedly, when asked to do something I will almost always answer "it's not a problem", and usually it isn't. But I can get overloaded, since my role includes helping out the whole office so that they can focus their energy on the magazine itself, rather than the little, niggly things.
But, first and foremost, I am Fiona's PA, which involves lots of running around helping to organise her day. I also do the "mark-up", costing each issue to work out how much has been spent in putting it together. Another of my roles is to vet incoming calls to the editor's office. Many queries I can deal with myself, and I find it surprising how some people go straight to the editor regardless of the nature of the call.
Despite the deadlines, the office is very laid-back, and we all like to have a good laugh together. My colleagues often arrive in the morning with great stories from the celebrity parties they went to the night before, and although I don't get sent invitations personally, I sometimes get taken along too. At one party I went to I found Kate Moss and Liv Tyler standing next to me, and I also achieved my original ambition of going to a flashy ceremony when we held the Elle Style Awards. But the occasion exceeded my original wish, because, rather than just being part of the audience, I was asked to be up on the stage passing the awards over to the celebrity presenters. It was fantastic seeing my favourite supermodel, Helena Christensen, up close, and I even got to talk to Sophie Dahl. I just love the glamour of it all. Fiona enjoys partying, too, and it is common for her to bring out the champagne and the chocolate cake on someone's birthday so that the whole office can celebrate.
I still can't believe that I've come over here from little old Wellington and into one of the top fashion publications. My friends at home think I'm a star, and one friend's mum, who works in a newsagents', has been proudly showing her customers the picture of me in last month's Elle - even though all you can see is my back! I never intended getting involved with magazines, but now, I'd like to keep the media thing going, because I feel so at home with it. I am hoping that this situation is going to set me up career-wise, and that this position will lead to even greater things.
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