All-Star Ninja Snapshot
Title & Company
Senior Executive Assistant, Boston Consulting Group in Dallas, TX
# Years as an Office Ninja
Her stress-relief strategy includes creating memes for her colleagues’ enjoyment.
Editor’s Note: We’re thrilled to spotlight the tremendous impact admin professionals have on the workforce and global business community. While coronavirus threw us for a loop this year, our 2020 All-Stars rose to the challenge with great collaboration, flexibility, and fun personal photos!
If you know anything about Corina Terrell, you may be surprised to hear that attending the inaugural OfficeNinjas & UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Leadership & Communication course was initially a big step outside of her comfort zone.
After all, she’s curious and creative. She thrives in complex situations, and she’s completely unflappable (more than one colleague used the word magical to describe her problem-solving skills).
So, a two-day executive-level administrative education program at one of the best business schools in the world seems like it would be her jam.
And it was! Those jitters quickly diminished and she jumped right into the interactive sessions, bringing her seasoned perspective to the discussion. She left with Ninja contacts from multiple industries and plenty of ideas on how to evolve her leadership skills… but not before making a meaningful impact on our program and inaugural cohort.
We were lucky to have her, and we’re thrilled to add her to the All-Star Hall of Fame.
Check out our Q&A with Corina Terrell and get to know this 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star!
Corina participates in the inaugural OfficeNinjas & UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Leadership & Communication Course held at UC Berkeley in December 2019.
Tell us about the craziest day you’ve ever experienced as an Office Ninja.
My executive was on a 21-hour flight to Australia with a tight return, when I learned that all of the meetings I’d worked with the AU team to schedule were somehow off by one day, which meant they wouldn’t work for my exec’s short trip.
I immediately thought, “Where did I go wrong?!” But I didn’t have time for that!
I contacted everyone I could on the ground in Australia, including other EAs and Project Leaders, in a feverish attempt to rework the meeting schedule and ensure that my executive’s trip was productive. This can be quite tricky when you’re working with a 16-hour time difference!
Meanwhile, I began researching potential back-up travel solutions while troubleshooting what went wrong so it wouldn’t happen again.
When my executive landed, they didn’t get the full agenda I’d originally designed — but I was able to organize some impactful meetings, and had them back on a flight the next day, as originally planned.
While my executive felt “something” wasn’t quite right, they didn’t question the situation at all. They knew I did my best under the circumstances.
What’s your favorite part of being an Office Ninja?
I am someone who thrives on seeing others succeed and have a genuine care for everyone; animals too! So, being an Office Ninja lets my best self shine!
I get to be the glue between our teams, act as a coach for others, and build long-lasting connections with our clients. I like to make people feel connected and valued with words and gifts that are chosen according to their likes or lifestyle. And I’m always thrilled to give a shout-out and brag about a team member’s accomplishments!
Knowing that my positivity has not only impacted my organization but a single person in even the smallest way is what gets me motivated and energized to conquer this thing called life.
My experience is just so smooth when she’s in charge; everything falls into place, things go as planned, nothing ever goes wrong. I realize that somehow I take all this for granted. It’s only when I observe what is happening with other Partners or MDPs that I realize how lucky I am that she is in the background looking out for me. – Christopher Cromer, Managing Director and Partner
The BCG Admin Team hosts a congratulatory celebration for a team member transferring to another BCG office.
As an EA you spend a lot of energy focused on others. How do you prioritize focusing on yourself?
In addition to my professional goals, I always make sure that I set personal goals and stick to them. I hold myself accountable and prioritize them just as much as I would anything else.
I love to cook, so I put a limit on how often I can order take-out. Cooking is therapy to me and really puts me in a place of peace.
I have an incredible group of friends, and we have get-togethers booked for several months out. We all make sure we take care of each other and make these events happen!
My company is also really supportive of taking time off, so it makes it a lot easier when I have the encouragement to take care of me.
What’s the one thing that’s always on your desk and why?
I generally like to keep a very neat and clean desk — sometimes people ask if anyone even occupies it!
But I always have my accessory organizer. It holds extra cords, airpods, extra headphones, a portable charger — basically any tech item I may need to keep myself up and running. When it’s not on my desk, it’s in my bag and ready to go at all times.
Corina’s work from home setup includes some of her favorite books, work swag, and rotating words of encouragement.
What do you do when you’re stressed or upset at work?
It really takes a lot to alter my mood, but I do have a couple of go-to things that I do during those rare moments.
I think my coworkers can definitely attest to this, and likely don’t even realize that it’s a stress-reliever for me, but I like to make funny memes to cool off and get my head back in the game. Sometimes the memes are directed towards the group, a team member, myself, cute animals… Making memes is my happy place and gets me right back to where I need to be.
I also keep a “Bad Day” folder in my Outlook where I store feel-good emails. It has feedback, positive discussions, memes (of course), and emails from my company that remind me that I work at a place that is world-class and THE BEST OF THE BEST.
Corina’s “brand” is next to none. She handles all issues head-on, not only with determination but with a smile on her face. Corina is approachable, trustworthy, and just an overall joy to be around. Someone who handles this stressful work environment with grace as Corina does is one in a million. – Lauren Evans, Executive Assistant
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How does your team help you succeed?
My team, my manager, my executives, and my organization ALL play an equal part in my success. It really does take a village. I am advocated for and empowered to speak up and lead — I have this support system away from home that I am proud to call family.
At their busiest moments, I can call one of my executives to talk about ME whether it be my career, or my personal life, and they are there to listen, support, and guide me. We often have discussions about what my goals are and how they can help me achieve them. After each milestone or victory, I find them asking me, “What’s next for you?” It’s a true partnership in that they support me just as much as I support them.
Meanwhile, my team is a brilliant group of superhumans that make the world go round. Seriously! We all juggle several things, but at the drop of a hat, they will put everything aside to pitch in. They are uplifting and encouraging, not just when times are tough but at all times. How great is that?
We are constantly sharing knowledge that enriches our careers, and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of a team that recognizes that each person has something special to bring to the table.
BCG’s team participates in the All Staff 2019 Community Service Day, partnering with Out Teach to build an outdoor learning lab space for elementary school students.
Where does your drive come from? What keeps you motivated?
I’ve always been driven to make the impossible possible; to really bring the magic to any situation. So conquering something complex gets my wheels spinning. As long as I am feeling challenged, the drive and motivation come easy.
When I can make an impact on an organization or person in even a small way, it truly fulfills me. It makes me feel like I have a purpose that is bigger than just myself.
How do you see the admin profession evolving? What do you do to stay ahead of the curve?
The admin profession has changed from delegated roles and assignments to true teaming and partnership.
I see the role evolving in a way that is collaborative and thought-provoking, rather than being task-oriented. Behind the execution, there is creativity and resourcefulness that admins use to make things run flawlessly.
As corporations change, the economy fluctuates, and technology advances, we must be flexible and passionate about staying on top of the change. I am a big planner, so I try to identify trends in my executives’ day-to-day to proactively get ahead of what’s potentially to come.
I always believe in having three plans for any scenario: the ideal, the less ideal, and the code red. Staying prepared at all times is essential. I try to keep up with news and media so I am ahead of any potential concern well in advance and can speak to the event with understanding. And I have been working on expanding my network across different industries to continue to gain knowledge and perspective to keep myself well-rounded.
Corina bonds with Ninjas from across the country at an intimate Welcome Dinner for participants of the OfficeNinjas & UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Leadership & Communication Course.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
THIS RIGHT HERE! What can top being a 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star? I am beyond thrilled and proud to be recognized for such an award. Being included in this group of like-minded people is an incredibly humbling feeling!
As far as my greatest achievement within my current company, I would likely say it was being honored with one of our North America Regional BST Awards. I had an overwhelming number of congratulatory emails, calls, and in-person moments that I will carry with me forever.
That was a turning point in my career, as it was the first time I truly realized the value I was creating and my potential to do more.
Members of BCG’s Dallas Admin team attend OfficeNinjas Admingling Dallas on March 4, 2020, which Corina co-hosted.
What are you most proud of outside of work?
I sometimes say that I should get more hobbies because my life can be pretty predictable but it’s what I like. It’s what works for me.
The one thing in my life outside of work that I’m most proud of is my family and the life we’ve built.
I’ve talked a lot about the support that I’ve received within work, but at the core of it all? My inner circle at home. My husband always encourages me to get out of my comfort zone and conquer new goals. He gives me just enough of a nudge so that I don’t fall, and instead take a step in the right direction.
My parents always instilled a strong work ethic, often working several jobs to provide for my siblings and me. There was never a moment growing up where I felt “less than” or recognized that we had struggles that most of my peers didn’t, because we always had each other.
My brother is a year older and a super-talented artist and musician. My sister is a year younger and can command any room she walks into — she has the gift of giving life to any situation. With all of our personalities being polar opposites, we manage to keep this super-tight bond at all times.
How do you balance work and personal life?
In our profession, it can definitely be hard to balance work and personal life, because we want to be “ON” at all times. I quickly came to learn that there doesn’t have to be a 100% separation between work and life. That would mean I would be juggling two very important things and one could easily fall. Instead, I use prioritization and strategy to make them both work for me simultaneously.
If I am behind on a few things at work but they aren’t time-sensitive, I save that for a time when things are a bit slower on the homefront. If I have a family event or something important to me personally and I have a lot on my plate professionally, I ask for help or delegate to keep things in balance.
I also think a lot of it comes down to being honest with yourself and what you are truly capable of giving, and feeling okay with saying “no” when asked to take on something extra. I do a lot of self-reflection through my calendar and constantly evaluate where I spend my time. Are my priorities, goals, and values being reflected in what I am doing? If not, where do I need to make tradeoffs to recalibrate?
Corina’s X Factor is “magically creating time.” She does this for herself and for her executives. She takes on more and gets more accomplished than any other EA I’ve known. She knows when to do it herself, when to skip it, and when to delegate it. Her executives overcommit to 200% of their time (personal and business) and Corina magically manages it down to 100% (managing personal, well-being, and business goals) while making everyone feel good along the way. – Nicki Cave, Administrative Services Senior Manager
BCG’s Admin team enjoys a day of teambuilding with food, games, and conversation in Uptown Dallas.
Can you share with us one way you intentionally keep work life separate from home life?
A few things that work for me to balance work and home life are:
Limiting the amount of time spent talking about work outside of the office. My husband and I do our best to discuss the great things about our companies and highlight important moments to celebrate together. But if we need to vent, we don’t let it go on for more than ten minutes. Time is precious and being aware of how you spend it is crucial.
We have an electronics-down dinner policy. This allows us to be fully present in the moment and enjoy that time nightly.
If I do need to catch up on something after hours, I do it late in the evening and not right when I get in the door. Chances are, something else will happen that will require me to log on again later anyway so this best maximizes my time.
Take your time off! You’ve earned it! And when you do actually disconnect, allow your back-up person(s) to rock at what they do best!
What would you say are the top 3 traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?
Flexibility. The quality of “bending but not breaking.” Sometimes we are the first to know of a key change, and sometimes we are the last. Regardless of timing, we need to be ready to gracefully accept the challenge. The more flexible we are, the better we are able to handle scenarios head-on and adapt to the situation.
Ownership. Ownership is a huge piece of what makes an admin effective. We should all have ownership over each item we are working on, as well as our careers. As our job descriptions fluctuate and workloads shift, it’s up to us to manage and navigate change without things falling through the cracks. If I am going to have mine or my executive’s name tied to a situation, I need to take charge of the situation to make sure I am owning the outcome to the best of my ability.
Also, owning one’s mindset can be pivotal. Being happy or positive is a total choice, and I choose to own that as often as possible. If I can look at a situation and own how I am going to react, then I’m already at an advantage.
Knowing when to ask questions. This is KEY. Sometimes asking questions can be tough, but knowing when to ask — and that it is OK to ask — is really empowering. You are setting yourself up for success when you dig deep into a situation that you don’t fully understand.
This doesn’t always have to come in the form of a question to your executive or manager; you can ask a colleague or mentor, or find the answer another way!
BCG Dallas admins pose for their annual team photo at the 2019 All Staff Offsite Retreat in Austin, TX.
What’s one thing you’ve done that’s been the most impactful in advancing your career?
Finding a company that was the right fit for me — from the people to the company’s initiatives. Working for a company that shares my values and has a culture that I align with is a total game changer! I’ve been lucky to find a place that fits my needs (and, luckily, I fit theirs, too).
More specifically, I have leaders that want to see me grow, and they invest in that in so many ways. For example, I was able to attend the OfficeNinjas & UC Berkeley Haas Leadership & Communication course this past December. It was a really big moment in my career, and it was great to have the support of my company.
In addition to my normal administrative duties, I have been able to explore new projects that I enjoy. One that is completely near and dear to me is our company mentorship program. And by connecting with people across the company, I have learned so much that has helped my career and my personal growth.
How has attending the OfficeNinjas & UC Berkeley Haas Leadership & Communication course contributed to your learning and development?
I am so thankful I was part of this program, as it was really a cornerstone in helping me fine-tune the way I approach some situations. I was able to collaborate with Ninjas across different fields and build lasting relationships I can continue to call upon.
This was my first time attending a course with curriculum-based learning, solely directed towards my profession and growth. It pushed me out of my comfort zone immediately. As soon as we walked in the door, the sessions went live and they were interactive.
To really bring the group together, the instructors immediately had us speak in front of each other, discussing what we were looking for in the course and our overall purpose for attending. Talk about scary! Being candid in a group of strangers and talking about your personal goals isn’t easy. We all had to not only open ourselves up but use our best listening skills to really HEAR each other. And this was all in the first couple of hours!
I was the first called upon during another activity where I had to actively lead the class in a sequence of hand gestures and phrases. Would I have volunteered to stand up in front of a group of people I barely knew to lead an activity prior to this course? Probably not. BUT I’m so glad the instructor called on me. In that short 5-minute scenario I felt empowered — like a leader. The group actively engaged and showed me that we could know each other for a couple of hours or a lifetime and that didn’t matter because we were a team working towards the same common goal.
I generally try to keep my “professional” face on most of the time and find it difficult to talk about myself. This is something I have always worked on but never really quite had the right tools. During this course, we had an opportunity to share our story. I wasn’t fully aware of the impact it would, could, and WILL bring to a room if you build that connection.
While some of these activities and events were challenging and even a bit awkward at times, I learned more in those two days about myself than I previously knew throughout my career. Because of this course, I will now embrace those moments that are “out of my comfort zone” and anytime I feel fear, remember that I CAN lead a room. The only person that was holding me back was myself.
Corina poses with her class, UC Berkeley faculty, and OfficeNinjas co-founders at the inaugural OfficeNinjas & UC Berkeley Haas School of Business Leadership & Communication Course on December 12-13, 2019.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
I was once told, “Create what you want, don’t chase what’s already built,” and that always resonated with me.
It taught me that I don’t always have to color inside the lines to make something beautiful come to life. It has encouraged me to be creative in my own processes and pushes me to dig beyond my role to find where I can effectively take charge.
Office Ninjas often have tricks of the trade. Any you care to share?
Ask for feedback often and be prepared to put it into action. Knowing is growing!
Bring your passions to work. If you enjoy event planning, then ask where you can take on more of those types of projects. If you love volunteer work, see if your team can participate in a volunteer event. If you like writing, ask if you can help with content creation.
Share knowledge with anyone and everyone! I often find some of my best conversations happen with someone in another department or cohort when we are discussing client work and processes or just getting to know each other. We all share the same purpose, so why not share our trade secrets, too?
This is your cue to venture outside your comfort zone! Do it today in some small (or HUGE) way. Ninjas are fueled by new challenges, and our curiosity is what propels us forward.
We commissioned an artist to hand letter and digitize a powerful mantra from today’s All-Star interview.