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Let’s Hear it for Hilary Phillips, 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star!

2020 Week - All-Star Hilary Phillips

All-Star Ninja Snapshot

Name
Hilary Phillips

Title & Company
Director of Sales Operations, MongoDB in Palo Alto, CA

# Years as an Office Ninja
7 years

Fun Fact
Before stepping into the role of Office Ninja, Hilary trained to be a police officer!

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’ve ever wanted to grow within your role or level-up your Ninja skills, grab a cup of coffee and settle in — 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips is about to give you a thorough tutorial.

Hilary doesn’t shy away from complicated challenges. She charges toward them. From creating her own job descriptions to launching an admin team pilot program, Hilary has used her experience, pragmatism, and powers of persuasion to continuously develop her career AND improve the lives of her fellow admins. She’s a real Ninja’s Ninja.

But you only have to read a few of her All-Star nominations to see the company-wide impact of her tireless efforts. Her colleagues see the time and money she’s saving the sales team and they recognize her as an invaluable partner in their business operations.

So, HOW does Hilary do it? Read our interview with this 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star to find out!

2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips at work in her home office.

Hilary working from home during COVID-19 shelter-in-place. (Photo courtesy of her husband, with whom she now shares a desk.)

Your background is in law enforcement. How did you become an administrative professional?

People assume law enforcement is very different, but you are working with people all day. I still spend a large portion of my day telling people what they need to do. Law enforcement’s goal is to get people to do what they need to do without forcing them to do it (but, at the end of the day, you might need to force them).

I say I spend my day getting people to do what I need them to do without them feeling like I am making them do it. Our CEO actually told my husband that I am great at telling people “no” and making them feel good about it.

What are your favorite parts of being an Office Ninja?

  1. People. I love working with people and making connections. Winning over particularly challenging personalities and changing their perception within the company is something I enjoy.
  2. Making things easier. I like knowing I am making other peoples’ lives easier. They have a problem that they think only they are experiencing or it is a tedious process to do ad hoc, and I can help. I usually have a system or process that works smarter rather than harder.
  3. Knowing things. I find being able to provide context and historical information helps people understand the why and I enjoy demystifying things for my team and coworkers. They could figure out the answer on their own, but usually I can provide context and an answer faster. Having people say, “I have no idea. Ask Hilary, she will know,” is a reminder that deep institutional knowledge is an asset. People coming to me with questions allows me to stay in the loop, continue to make connections, and keep current with what else is going on in the business.

Tell us about the craziest day you’ve ever experienced as an Office Ninja.

I worked as a house manager for a family, and my boss was having a particularly bad day. She had started to cook lamb and determined it wasn’t good and that it needed to be returned.

I walked into Whole Foods with $65 worth of cooked lamb wrapped in tin foil, asking who the best person was to discuss an odd request. The person I ended up speaking to was very surprised by the request and said there wouldn’t be a way to do it. I asked what details he needed to process a return — and, piece by piece, I was able to meet all of the requirements. Once the transaction was complete, he came out from behind the desk to do a little bow and shake my hand.

This was a great example of staying balanced (versus saying, “This is a silly request”), keeping my cool (I might have been told I HAD to make this happen), and being willing to work with anyone and create a team environment.

Hilary’s X factor is her versatility — she can manage people, innovate on programs, and execute on a wide variety of tasks. – Meghan Gill, VP Sales Operations

What do you do when you’re stressed or upset at work?

I get calm and focused on what needs to happen next. The task feels less daunting if it is broken down into manageable next steps. If I’m working with others, I keep it light-hearted. Laughing through a tough situation makes it so much easier.

I tend to plan for all worst-case scenarios; something will go wrong, it is just a matter of what. I don’t like surprises. My motto is, “We will get it sorted out.”

2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips poses with team members during a company event.

Marketing, SalesOps, and Sales Enablement support each other (and Hilary, quite literally) while preparing for MongoDB’s Sales Kick Off 2019.

How does your team help you succeed?

They allow me the freedom to work to my strengths and ability to identify and solve a problem or issue. I have been able to grow my career. They don’t provide a road map, but they don’t say “no.” My manager has been an outstanding role model and I am quick to involve her or go to her with my concerns and mistakes. I am grateful to have someone I can model my behavior after and there have been times where I have needed to channel her when tackling an issue.

How do you see the admin profession evolving? What do you do to stay ahead of the curve?

I am striving to ensure that all of our Sales Executive Assistants be seen as partners. I develop and invest in the team — I want everyone to understand that these EAs provide critical services that lots of other people can’t do.

So many good admins have a can-do attitude and are great at getting things done quickly, within policy, and without ruffling feathers. Those are actual skills and they should be identified, given common language, shared, and fine-tuned.

Companies must have a career path for their admins. And I encourage admins to map out their own desired path, so they can present it to their company.

I advocate for my team. I’ve raised issues around unfair and unbalanced support ratios. I’ve said “no” and pushed back on unrealistic expectations from executives who are unfamiliar with what is the best use of the admin resource.

I know my team, what drives them personally, and what drives them professionally. I make sure their wins are highlighted and protect them when they make mistakes.

2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips and MongoDB team members pose for a group photo in Times Square.

Hilary and team members celebrate in Times Square on the day that her company MongoDB IPO-ed.

Can you describe what a successful executive partnership looks like to you?

Partnership is key. The admin/exec relationship isn’t one of prescriptive order taking. Sometimes execs who haven’t had support (or haven’t had outstanding support) think their job is to tell the admin what to do (book this flight, move this meeting, etc.). It’s best when an exec and admin work together toward a common goal.

The admin needs to know what is going wrong, what keeps the exec up at night, and what they are focusing on. This understanding will allow the admin to make decisions and adjust rather than wait for the exec to flag something.

To help with this, I have the admins and EAs on my team do an Exec Preference Intake sheet when they start supporting an exec. It includes over 35 questions on topics that are important for the admin to know, including the basic info that is required to book travel and register for an event. But it also includes questions like:

  • How should I alert you to urgent matters?
  • Should our weekly/daily sync be in person or over phone/zoom/email?
  • How do we denote priority?
  • How do we update the list of priorities?
  • From whom should I always accept meetings?
  • Should everything go through the EA, or should some items be handled directly?
  • Is your default meeting 30 or 60 minutes?
  • Do you need buffer time?

This is helpful to get clear upfront, as it is critical information that an admin needs for their job. But it’s also a great opportunity for the admin to provide suggestions or recommendations right off the bat, highlighting that they are the expert and very likely know the best way to do all of these things or at least optimize areas that are weaknesses for the exec.

This helps to reduce frustration on both sides because things are discussed and agreed on together from the beginning. It also provides a written record of the agreement in case there is a miscommunication or something isn’t working well. It’s easier for the admin to say, “Based on our meeting on X date, we had decided XYZ, but that doesn’t seem to be working well, so I suggest we update it.”

Bad news travels down quickly and up slowly, meaning by the time most execs are hearing bad news, the reality is worse than what they are hearing and everyone else knows about it. Admins are a great resource to execs in these situations because a great admin will have relationships with individual contributors, managers, and leaders from their team as well as others. People speak more freely to them (especially about frustrations) than they would an exec. So, the admin can check in with many different people to determine what is going on and can flag it for an exec sooner.

She is an absolute rock-star, in general. Most recently, she has helped me organize another round of virtual Quarterly Business Reviews, which don’t only save time and money, but also the plant’s resources. – Roman Gruhn, Chief of Staff

2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips and team members pose for a group photo during a teambuilding event.

Hilary and some of her team members pose for a group photo during a team event where they built copper lamps!

Tell us about your experience piloting your company’s admin team program.

Before the pilot program, the Sales EAs reported to an exec (or multiple execs) with no standards on who was eligible for support, what the ratios of support are, the scope of work, etc. Now, they report to me.

I established clear standards that are being adopted by other teams. Compensation, job titles, and work ratios are now all standard as well. And there is much more oversight, feedback, and development for the EAs.

When I interview EA/admin candidates, sometimes they are a little hesitant about the idea of reporting to me rather than an exec.

If an EA is doing their job really well, an exec shouldn’t know what they do. They should just know that their days run smoothly. This means most execs have no idea how to develop an admin.

So, I explain to candidates that I don’t involve myself in the day-to-day working relationship with their exec. I recognize that they need to be very familiar and intimate with the exec and I don’t monitor what they are doing on a daily basis.

I do, however, conduct weekly 1:1s with admin team members, provide feedback, offer mentorship, hold team meetings, and maintain standards within the business. These are all things that most admins don’t get from the execs.

During our 1:1s, we check in to make sure we are working toward the admin’s growth goals. The admin drives the agenda and completes a template that includes:

  • A quick status update I can review in advance
  • Issues to discuss, problems to be solved, challenges to be debriefed, lessons learned, and coaching needs
  • Their list of growth goals

For example, I have an EA who has a goal of going deeper in their exec’s business, but they keep saying “yes” to any and every request they get. Using this template, I can help them determine the areas to best spend their time to achieve that goal. Rather than telling them to not do the extra requests that are outside of their scope, I can ask them how each task is getting them closer to their goal.

I have had another who feels like they need to be more comfortable pushing back, so I ask them to list out each time they say “no” to someone so we can talk about it (and celebrate it).

My job is to ensure the admin team is always stretching and growing, moving on a clear career path. So, success in my organization can be a couple of things. For those wanting to be life-long EAs, moving into an admin leadership role and managing a team of admins is one path.

Another path is sharpening their transferable skills, determining what they really enjoy, and finding a role or team within the organization where they can grow. This allows us to retain outstanding talent that already knows our business and can provide value to other departments.

In every role, Hilary has helped everyone be successful and do their own jobs better. She has created an incredible work product and is an amazing cultural heartbeat for the company at every step of our growth from less than 100 to over 2,000 employees. – Nick Gilly, Strategic Account Executive

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As a mom of twins, how have you set and maintained healthy work/life boundaries?

Before I had my babies, I was “on” and available 24/7. But I was sick every day of my pregnancy, and that helped prepare me for being okay not working all of the time.

I leave my house before my kids get up in the morning and I only get two hours in the evening with them. That is a very special time. I leave my phone in the other room so I can be engaged with the babies during dinner, bath, and bedtime. I come back online and check in later.

My biggest takeaway? No one expected me to be “on” 24/7 in the first place.

2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips poses with her husband and twins in a family photo.

Hilary admits having twins isn’t always this picture perfect, but going with the flow and keeping a smile makes it easier.

What would you say are the top 3 traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?

  1. I was described as “relentless” by our former CFO. I take that as a compliment and think that is one of my traits.
  2. Understanding the big picture (or at least being able to ask “why?”)
  3. Even-keeled. It is critical that you are able to stay calm under pressure. People will look to get your reaction. The more balanced you are, the more information people will share.

What’s one thing you’ve done that’s been the most impactful in advancing your career?

I have had 15 managers, and some were more invested in me and my career than others.

Some of those folks could have been roadblocks, but I made sure that I understood what they needed to do to help me and I made it easy for them to do that. I created my role of Chief of Staff to the CRO by discussing with a number of key people, making a plan and job description, and listing potential objections and solutions prior to addressing it with the CRO.

In another case, I was able to pull forward a budget for adding two additional EA heads in Sales by showing how much money is saved when admins perform the administrative work rather than sales leaders. (We’re also working on a proposal to allow a group of sales leaders who aren’t currently eligible for support, to get team admin support to assist with their travel and expenses. This junior group of admins will be managed and mentored by our senior EAs.)

I have worked hard to understand what is important to other people and have tried to help them at every turn. The relationships I’ve created, the favors I’ve done, and the unsolicited help that I’ve offered have all come back to me in countless ways.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

This is sort of an odd one. I was doing a performance review and I had to give myself a grade. I said I was a “B,” on track but with room to grow.

My manager at the time was a no BS kind of guy, and he told me that you always mark yourself as an “A.” You leave money on the table if you don’t. If you aren’t at that level, it forces the person reviewing to explain to you why you aren’t.

Office Ninjas often have tips/tricks of the trade. Any you care to share?

I have a ton of tips and tricks, but I think the real key is asking questions. The trick is getting people to tell you which problem they’re trying to solve. Often, people will tell you what outcome they think they need or a very specific problem they are trying to solve. I always want to know why or what the bigger picture is, in case I can understand and make suggestions that might be faster, cheaper, or a better use of time. The ability to ask good questions helps me understand their restrictions or parameters.

2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips poses with MongoDB’s West Sales team in a group photo.

Hilary poses with MongoDB’s West Sales Team, showing off the custom socks they had made with their CEO’s face on them.

You were the 100th employee at your company. What factors impacted your growth?

I have been at my company for the past seven years. We have grown and changed a ton. I tell people it’s like I have worked for three or four companies while I have been here.

I’ve always been able to point out areas that needed improvement and act upon them. In the very beginning, it was small things related to maintaining the actual building and changing how we ordered company meals and snacks.

I also spent time understanding what the execs in the office were focused on. Initially, I reported to the VP of Finance (we were so small we didn’t have a CFO). I just jumped in and asked people, “How can I help?” I started helping with collections, billing hours for our support team, and reviewing expense reports. The more I did, the more I understood how things were connected and who was doing what. I was building serious institutional knowledge; and as a result, I became a resource for others and one of the first few people new leaders or execs met with. I built my credibility with them and created lasting relationships.

I make it easy for people to say “yes” to me. That means I come with an issue, a plan to correct it, a proposal, and a clear ask. I have suggested all of my title changes/job descriptions and have never had anyone push back on me.

Today, I have a very different perspective of the business and understand the many trade-offs that must be considered when making a decision. But I still think my willingness to jump in, offer help, and be flexible has allowed me to grow and change with the business.

Hilary grabs every learning opportunity available and is not shy in taking on new things to help progress herself. Whilst improving her own skillset, she is always available to guide her team and help them. – Jodie Rawlinson, EA to GVP & Sales Ops

2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Hilary Phillips poses with team members in their group Halloween costume.

Hilary told her exec what to wear for Halloween. He had no idea who Gru or the Minions were, which makes this group costume even better.

You’ve supported a countless number of executives remotely. Can you share with us any advice on fostering a remote relationship with an executive?

I love understanding how people work. I find that I am successful in remote support because I am invested in figuring out what works best for the exec, which usually gives insight into what type of person they are. That allows me to put myself in their shoes and understand how they will react or respond to something.

I make sure I am connecting with the exec when they can focus. For my busiest execs, I do a “For the Plane” email and I list out all the outstanding questions or ongoing issues. I send it to them while they are on their way to the airport and resend once they are airborne. It allows me to catch them when no one else is trying to grab a few minutes of their time. Those emails also provide a bit of context and my recommendations on what to do. The goal is for the exec to provide an “OK” rather than come up with the solution to every issue.

It’s better to connect for 3-5 minutes every day via text, phone, or Slack than to wait for the perfect time to have an hour together.

I also ask my execs when I can make a decision if I am unable to get a hold of them. It helps remind them that there are lots of things I can do on their behalf and allows them to focus their time on the things only they can do.

A rising tide lifts all ships… and a true All-Star elevates every Ninja! How will Hillary’s story inspire you to not only find new opportunities at work but also buoy the careers of your fellow admins?

A hand-lettered digital graphic created exclusively for the 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star Awards, featuring the quote, “Say yes by saying no.”

We commissioned an artist to hand letter and digitize a powerful mantra from today’s All-Star interview.

Gratitude to our 2020 Admin Week Partners

Our trusted OfficeNinjas partners are integral to keeping Admin Week festivities running (6 years!) strong. The next time you have a need for reliable workplace solutions, please give them a try!

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Responses

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  1. Sherri @ Maxim Integrated

    Congratulations! Go office Ninja!!
    Love your bullets questions for your ExecBP’s

  2. Congratulations Hilary! Well deserved.

  3. Hillary, what an amazing career: ever growing and evolving! Congrats!

  4. Congratulations, Hillary!! What an impressive background. Your team is so fortunate to have you! The list of questions for a new EA is BRILLIANT. I always came in behind a mess and never had the luxury of having another EA there for transition. Something like that would have been PRICELESS! Keep rockin’ on at MongoDB!!

  5. Congratulations! I love the awesome and successful strategies to uplift and guide others!

  6. I loved reading Hilary’s story and finding so many commonalities! She truly is a rockstar as well!

  7. See previous comments. Fantastic job, Hillary!

  8. Wow what an inspiration Hilary is!
    I’ve been at this for over 20 years, and I gleaned so much from this article. Thanks for sharing, Hilary, and CONGRATS!!!!!!

  9. Congratulations a very inspiring story. Love your organization.

  10. Truly inspiring! I’ve taken away so much from this one interview. Definitely an All-Star.

  11. Congratulations! I love the getting-to-know-you checklist. I feel like people at my organization don’t understand how to have an admin and I, for one, don’t know how to train them.

  12. Congratulations Hilary – very inspiring story! How do we obtain a copy of your Exec Preference Intake sheet! :D So often we hear ‘general’ statements regarding what we should be doing or trying – you provided actual concrete examples I can implement immediately, and I want to hear more! I am inspired and looking forward to my next conversation with my primary executive! Thank you and congrats!

  13. Congratulations Hilary – well deserved award!! I like the idea of a questionnaire to find out what my Exec prefers. I have thought of this before but never followed through with it. Telework should give me time to lay something out.

  14. Congratulations, hopefully being an Admin Assistant is safer than being a police officer :). Sometimes I wonder…

  15. Congrats! You are so deserving of this award! You are truly an amazing person!

  16. Congratulations on your accomplishments Hilary!! You are truly inspiring :)

  17. I agree 100% that a big task feels less daunting if it is broken down into manageable next steps. Staying calm and doing the next indicated step has been one of the keys to my success in this role.

  18. Congratulations Hillary!! You are an awesome Ninja!

  19. Way to go Hilary, you go ’em!

    1. … you go get ’em!

  20. Congratulations, well deserved!!

  21. My sincerest congratulations. It certainly sounds like you deserve the recognition. I’ve written a few of your ideas to discuss with others for when, or if, we actually get back on site/

  22. Congratulations! You’ve done an amazing balance and I love some of the things you do for your execs. I’m definitely going to incorporate them into my own style.

  23. Congrats, Hilary! I love that you look at our role as a partnership vs. task taker. That’s exactly how I look at it and felt really motivated reading your story!

  24. Congratulations and thanks for all the helpful tips and strategies on how to be a great office Ninjas.

  25. Congrats. What a great story and you are such an inspiration.

  26. This is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. Congrats :)

  27. Your family is precious!!!!

  28. Congrats!! Thanks for sharing your experience and being a great leader for your team!

  29. WOW Hilary, you are pretty amazing and all while balancing twins!! Congrats to you, well deserved!

  30. Absolutely a ROCKSTAR! Keep being amazing!!!

  31. Amazing! Congrats Hillary!

  32. Congratulations on your accomplishments! A very well written overview and well deserved award! I agree with so many of your recommendations. Communication is key to a successful partnership, personal and professional!

  33. Congrats Hilary!!

  34. Congratulations! Thank you for the list that you focus on in 1:1s, this will help me to move forward in my upcoming meetings.

  35. Great job Hilary. Looks like a great place to work.

  36. Congrats Hilary! You have an awesome attitude at work at at home. Thank you for being an awesome role model!

  37. Love this article – lots of great insight that I will take into my own career!! Thank you :)

  38. Congratulations! Happy Admin week!!

  39. Happy Admin week to all!

  40. I love what you said about being us being PARTNERS. That is a key attitude to have and message to convey in our work. Congrats!

  41. This is so amazing! Keep up the good work!

  42. Congratulations Hilary! Loved reading your write up. You mention an Exec Preference Intake sheet and an Admin meeting template. Would you be able to share those? Congratulations again on your award!

  43. Great job, Hilary! Keep on rocking!

  44. Happy Admin Professional Day to all.

  45. Congrats! That list of questions to ask an exec is absolutely amazing and a great starting to point to larger conversations.

  46. Great intake questions – congrats!

  47. Great people with great attitudes!

  48. I love, love your intake preference sheet! I do a lot of training for other admins at our college. I suggest questions similar to these, but am taking a few away for the new admin I am about to train! It sounds like you and I have similar styles…I kept catching myself shaking my head yes as I was reading your profile!

    Congratulations!

  49. Congratulations, Hilary! This article is very motivating and inspirational!

  50. Way to go!!!

  51. Congrats Hilary!!

  52. Congrats! I love how you’ve leveraged your prior experience into this role! Ninja Power!

  53. Very cool! Congrats!

  54. Congratulations, Hilary!

  55. Congratulations! I would love to know your tips on saying “no” to people and making them feel good about it.

  56. Congratulations! Thank you for sharing your story.
    So many great pointers I can’t wait to utilize some of these pointers.

  57. Congratulations, Hilary! You said, “The admin needs to know what is going wrong, what keeps the exec up at night, and what they are focusing on.” This is so true! Also, would love to talk more about your 35 questions as it might be a great addition to our Buddy on-boarding program. I will reach out via MongoDB. Again, congratulations!!

  58. Hilary is an exemplary office ninja and working mom! So many great ideas to ‘steal’ from this article! Congratulations All-Star!

  59. Congratulations Hilary! Well Deserved! Love your dedication and advice to the Admin Community!

  60. Congratulations Hilary….and what a great article! I’ve pulled several quotes out to use as points/guides in our Admin book.

  61. Thanks for sharing your story :) keep up the great work!

    Love the Best Career advice!!

  62. Congrats Hilary!

  63. Congratulations, Hilary!

  64. Congrats Hilary! So great to see that you advocate for your team and push back on unrealistic expectations. In our profession, it’s so important that our partnership is valued in that way. I’m getting better and better at doing the same and am, thankfully, never made to feel like the suggestion is not welcome. Kudos to you NinjA!

  65. Congrats! Way to forge your path, Hilary!

  66. Police Officer, Office Ninja… still keeping people in line nonetheless! Congratulations!

  67. Your Exec Preference Intake sheet is a GREAT idea!! I really enjoyed your story.

  68. Congratulations Hilary! I applaud you for managing and mentoring the Sales EAs on your Team. Bravo!! I also love your action plan for making it easy for people to say yes to you. Thanks for sharing.

  69. Congratulations, Hilary. You are truly a dynamo Ninja! Your article was inspirational and I will use it as an office resource since it is so full of useful information. In particular, I found the tip of understanding what your executive(s) are working on and understanding what their priorities are as a good reminder for myself.

  70. Inspiring story. I never thought of someone in Sales Operations at an Admin.

  71. Congrats Hilary! Well deserved! I think the Exec Preference Intake Sheet is an invaluable idea! (would love to see the full 35 questions)

  72. Congratulations Hilary! Very inspiring and love that you have created a network on mentorship with the admin team within your org. It is something i have been working on in my own organization and it’s great to see how it is possible.

  73. Congratulations, Hilary. You are truly deserving of the award. I appreciate your insights and especially loved that you have been able to find work/life balance while understanding that no one is expecting you to be “on” 24/7!

  74. Congratulations!

  75. Congrats Hillary – I love your advice to ask questions!!

  76. Congrats Hilary – Well deserved! I enjoyed the article; lots of food for thought.

  77. Go Hilary! Congratulations! I love the idea of the executive intake form and also how you advocate for the rest of your admin team. Great inspiration!

  78. You are incredible!

  79. Congratulations!!! I love reading all your advice and process to assist an exec. I’m going to steal some of your ideas and incorporate them with my team!

  80. Making things easier is one of favorite things about being an admin as well <3

  81. This interview is easily my favorite one to read about Admins/EAs EVER. Hilary, you did a fantastic job not only inspiring other Ninjas through your stories, but the bullets and lists you share are actionable takeaways that are immediately useful and intuitively sensible. LOVE the Intake questions you shared, and thank you for reminding me that asking good questions is one of the best tools anyone in any position can have. Congrats!!!

  82. I love your idea of an Exec Preference Intake form. That is on my list of things to create now.
    Way to go Hilary!!!

  83. Congrats Hillary!!! I get told the same thing – “JoAnn is not afraid to say no, and does it so nicely.” It’s a fine art!

  84. Hillary, that lamb story had me chuckling! Way to keep your cool and work through a problem. It’s a great reminder that we are all asked to do off the wall request sometimes. And if we start to look at those situations as a challenge to overcome versus seeing it as a annoyance, we will become better admins!

  85. Congratulations! Great job and well deserved!

  86. Congrats Hillary! Well deserved :)

  87. Hillary – your story has just juiced the rest of my week and beyond! I am inspired by your journey in that you completely took ownership of your career and made it happen for YOU. That is something I have struggled with and learned the hard way that no one really cares about you more than you. I know, sort of obvious, but again you have proved that if you want anything to happen, you gotta get out there and make it happen yourself. Good luck with everything you do and grateful to have you in the admin community.

  88. During this uncertain time of Covid-19, Hilary’s message on how to effective support leaders remotely has helped to reassure my uneasiness that I’m experiencing during this time. We are very much needed to help support our leadership and teams during this time.

  89. Congrats! I love where you said no one expected you to be “on” 24/7. I had to work my way to this to have a healthy work life balance :)

  90. Congratulations Hilary! You deserve this. I want to share this with the world!

  91. Incredible article Hilary! Thank you for sharing your story and these important issues and successes with us. Congrats on your much deserved recognition!

  92. Congratulations Hilary

  93. The way you approach onboarding new EAs to execs is inspiring! Congratulations Hilary!

  94. Congrats Hilary! I really like your point about showing people how much time (and money!) can be saved when you have admins perform administrative work rather than sales leaders. I think it would be great for more employers to see this!

  95. I love “Our CEO actually told my husband that I am great at telling people “no” and making them feel good about it.” and the “Say yes by saying no”.

  96. Congrats Hillary! Thanks for sharing your story.

  97. Congratulations on a well deserved award!!!

  98. Congratulations Hilary! An Office Ninja and Twin Mom Ninja! You go girl!!!

  99. WOW! Inspiring for sure! Happy Admin Day and great job Hilary!

  100. Congratulations Hilary! Much deserved 👏

  101. Way to go! Superb job.

  102. Fantastic! And those questions you listed are great (and I will be making sure I keep those in my pocket)!

    1. Thanks so much Michala. I would be happy to share the full list if that would be helpful.

  103. Wow – you are truly an All-Star! This was such an inspiring read, thank you and congrats!!

  104. Congrats Hilary! Love the profession switch – more power to you!

  105. Wow, Hilary is one bad-a** ninja! I appreciated her mentoring advice about following up on others’ goals to help them focus. Congratulations!

  106. Congratulations on this wonderful recognition!

  107. I love reading about people’s experiences! Great job! Continue to do great work! I can’t believe you found a way to return partially cooked lamb! If that doesn’t show what we, as admins, do every single day, I don’t know what represents it. Love this!

  108. Congratulations Hilray!

  109. Congrats!

  110. Congrats! A rock star all the way around. Would love to see the entire executive intake form – what a great tool

    1. Hi Tricia,

      I would be happy to share it!

  111. Your story about returning the lamb is amazing – highlights the exceptional things we are asked to do!

  112. Congratulations!!!

  113. I worked with Hilary before she was at Mongo and she stood out as a gifted leader, respected and loved by all! Congratulations, Hilary!

    1. Thank you so much Cherie!!

  114. Congrats Hilary!

  115. I agree with you that “something will go wrong”. I always just try to plan ahead for all possibilities and set up as much as I can in advance instead of waiting till the last minute so there is time to manage that issue when it arises.

  116. I have already learned a lot from you by reading this article! I admire your ability to press for the goal, and that’s my takeaway- how the desired outcome is connected to the bigger picture, and how I can help my leader meet that goal effectively, efficiently and on time. Congratulations- you certainly are an all star!

  117. Congrats, what a great read.

  118. Congratulations, Hilary! I was dual Criminal Justice and Psychology major and come from a similar background. I was attracted to my role as Executive Assistant because I feel that it allows me to use my servant’s heart in a capacity that fits my lifestyle and strengths.

    I love the career advice you shared! I ALWAYS give myself a “B” or a 4/5 because it never feels right to claim that I’m at the top. I will keep this in mind going forward.

  119. Congrats Hilary!! Your tenacity and drive is admirable. Thank you for sharing many examples of how you lead your team. Will definitely take note of it all and apply it personally!

  120. Congratulations! Well deserved.

    So many great takeaways. I love the questions to ask your new executive his preferences.

  121. Congratulations!

  122. Congratulations! This article has given me some great ideas to implement in my own role.

  123. A Champion for sure. I don’t know how you do all this and take care of twins!!! You’re an All-Star!!!

  124. Oh my gosh, I absolutely love the checklist of questions to ask your Exec! I’ll be using those very soon!

  125. Congrats Hilary!

  126. Congratulations Hilary. Your interview was inspiring.

  127. Congratulations! I really enjoyed your interview and the ideas and advice you gave!

  128. Congratulations! Enjoyed the article–especially the sample questions to ask your exec!

  129. Congrats! Love the intake form idea!

  130. Congrats – Well deserved. Thanks you for your tips and honesty.

  131. Congrats Hilary! Much deserved! Interacting with people, and making their lives easier are two of my favorite parts of being an OfficeNinja too!

  132. Congratulations Hilary! Way to go!!

  133. I love how this article comes full circle – from asking what information would be needed to process the meat return to “making is easy for people to say yes” to her requests, Hilary’s story gives us examples of how the right questions can make all the difference! I like to you, “How can I accommodate you?” Or “How can you accommodate me?”!

  134. I absolutely love the structure you have put in place for the administrative team – I’m sure the junior admins, or even the more senior admins who may not have had true mentorship relationships, appreciate it! It can be difficult to go to an executive for advice on an administrative task.

  135. Congratulations, Ninja!

  136. Way to go Hilary!

  137. Congratulations, Hilary.
    Great advice. “No one expected me to be “on” 24/7 in the first place.” This is so very true for most of us EA’s Thank you for sharing your insight on the Admin Program.

  138. Congratulations, Hilary!

  139. You are truly an Office Ninja! Thank you for not only sharing your great Admin advice, but for being a great support to Admins. Sending the email while the Exec is on the plane is a great idea.

  140. What an article! I really like that you took charge and formed your own admin team. Creating standards and forming something out of nothing is just awesome. I think it is so wonderful that you do your weekly 1:1’s then you are encouraging them to grow and dive deeper into their roles as admins. Creating such a wonderful bond and its own culture is just awesome.

    WAY TO GO!

  141. Congratulations!

  142. Nicely done Hilary! And yes, nobody has asked us to be on 24/7. I too have been described as relentless as well as tenacious. Sounds like you’ve nailed your work/life balance. Congrats!

  143. Congrats on the win! Thanks for sharing your ideas. I especially liked “If an EA is doing their job really well, an exec shouldn’t know what they do. They should know that their days run smoothly” – loved this!

  144. I loved reading the entire article but the following really resonated. Having people say, “I have no idea. Ask Hilary, she will know,” is a reminder that deep institutional knowledge is an asset. People coming to me with questions allows me to stay in the loop, continue to make connections, and keep current with what else is going on in the business.

  145. I appreciate your comments about “Knowing things”! I also have to say it’s “who you know” – when folks say “ask Sommer, she’ll know”, I always say I may not know exactly, but I know who does (then I get the answers and share)! Thank you for sharing your tips and highlights – very inspirational and motivating!

  146. I loved today’s post! Hilary really is a superwoman. Congratulations! I love how she touched on how we essentially train others how to treat us – with regard to 24/7 availability.

  147. Great article! Congratulations to you!

  148. Way to go Hilary! I love the idea of sending the “For the Plane” email. I’m definitely going to start doing that.

  149. Hilary you’re a ROCKSTAR!! I really appreciated your responses to how you are working to stay ahead of the curve of the admin profession evolving. Making sure companies have a career paths for their admins is definitely something I’ve never thought about, but think is definitely needed.

    Thank you for all that you do and CONGRATS!!

  150. I’m really intrigued by the Exec Preference Intake sheet. I think a lot of companies could utilize that to make things run more smootly!

  151. Excellent advice, and those kiddos are adorable. I also really want to know how you got a refund on a half-cooked lamb. Now that’s impressive!

  152. Congrats! Love “relentless” and definitely agree that is a plus in this line of work.

  153. Congrats! You are a powerhouse! Wonderful Intake sheet idea, and so many positive resources shared. Well deserved!

  154. Congrats! I love the EA checklist……I might need to barrow that.

  155. Great article and story so inspiring. Thanks for proving sterotypes wrong with grace under fire. Congrats.

  156. Love to see work/life balance work

  157. Congratulations Hilary ! It was great to hear about the work/life balance and that you’re not expected to be “on” 24/7!

  158. Loved your interview and insight! Having a little backbone never hurt in this profession, especially when you can pull it off being nice! Congrats!

  159. Would Hilary be willing to share her entire Exec Preference Intake with us? That sounds like a fantastic tool to utilize!

  160. Congrats! Great read! Happy Admin Professionals Day (and week)!

  161. Hilary’s an inspiration! Not only intelligent and a ‘go-getter’, she apparently has high emotional intelligence, uses a little psychology along with brain power and experience.

  162. Love the comment “Always give yourself an A or else you’re leaving money on the table.”

  163. Love the upfront questions you ask your managers.

  164. Congratulations Hillary!

  165. Congrats! Great tips and info!

  166. Great tips on so many aspects of your story. Thank you for sharing HIlary!! This gave me some great ideas and insight.

  167. Knowing things is one of the best part of being a Ninja!! Welcome to the All-Star crew!! CONGRATS!!

  168. Congratulations! Making someone feel good about saying no…that sounds like a great challenge.

  169. Example of how the profession sometimes chooses you versus the other way around. Hilary’s attitude and work ethos are superb and the All Star award is indeed well deserved! 🥳

  170. I love that you invest in other admins careers by helping with the 1:1 meetings. Excellent! Happy Admin Day to all.

  171. Great article!! Congratulations!!

  172. Such a nice article.

  173. Also, Congratulations! :)

  174. I totally agree with Hilary’s proactive stance. Making things easier for our busy clinical team by knowing where to go for what, because I’ve spent time cultivating relationships and considering things that could go wrong before they happen, helps my team run more efficiently.

  175. Congratulations! You are an inspiration, thank you.

  176. Reading this article made me feel better about my current situation! I feel as if I am the Jack of all trades doing numerous different tasks in my current role. I graduated with a Fine Arts degree, so reading that your original profession was not Business Admin gives me more confidence. I have to start marking myself as an “A” as well and know that I am essential to the workplace!

  177. What a great article! – I relate to the need for the partnership with sales. A strong and integrated sales assistant is key to the success of the team. Congratulations! It is wonderful to have someone like you helping to ensure the future of the profession.

  178. I love your determination to give all of your fellow admins a career path, it is so important to continue to develop!

  179. Hilary, you are truly an inspiration! I have been stumped on how to grow my career and your interview was just what I needed. You are 100% a true Ninja!

  180. Awe inspiring story! Congratulations! Continue being great!

  181. Congratulations! I really took away some great tips from your interview!

  182. Congratulations Hillary!!

  183. Congratulations Hilary! I love how you advocate and empower your team! People like you are one in a million. Kudos!

  184. Congratulations Hilary! Wow,
    I love your energy! “We will get it sorted out”

  185. Congratulations Hillary. Well deserved!

  186. Congrats! Beautiful children!

  187. That lamb story was wild, I can see how getting through a situation like that has prepared you for basically anything else that was thrown your way lol!

  188. I think that realizing that no one expects me to be “on” 24/7 is something I’m really working on and will definitely help me grow into an Office All-Star! Congrats Hilary!

  189. Congrats!!!!

  190. Way to go Hilary! Happy Admin Day to all

  191. Congrats, Hillary! You are an inspiration to others.

  192. Great advice from your manager about always grading yourself an “A”. And your babies are so cute! Congrats, Hillary!

  193. Congrats Hilary! the career advice you mentioned is great, no one has ever put it that way to me before. I will remember it at my next review!

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