Title, Company, and Location
Executive Assistant to the CEO, Roblox, San Mateo, CA
# Years as an Admin+ professional
Amanda is a huge Bay Area sports fan, and her first “big” adult purchase was season tickets to the San Francisco Giants. She started out with bleacher seats, and eventually made her way to the lower box. She’s attended every home opener (except one) since 2003, and even purchased a fan cut-out during COVID so she could “attend.” As Amanda is especially fond of baseball, her 4-year-old Goldendoodle is named Maysie — after Willie Mays!
Editor’s Note: OfficeNinjas All-Star Awards is part of Admin+ Month (April 4–29, 2022), a fully virtual celebration of captivating learning, global recognition, and joyful connection.
Amanda Nunez loved her job. She had an amazing relationship with her executive, felt valued and appreciated, and enjoyed plenty of job security. She could have contentedly coasted along in that role indefinitely. Yet when the opportunity came up to make a bold move in a wildly different direction, Amanda just had a feeling. And despite the many “safe” reasons to stay in her current position, she felt compelled to go for it.
So she did. In doing so, she transformed her career — and her life.
When Amanda Nunez made that life-changing leap, she knew little about the new company and tech sector she was leaping to. However, she brought with her an extensive set of Admin skills, and the desire to learn, grow, and make an impact. She arrived at Roblox as its very first EA. Today, Amanda leads a team of 20 Admins and has played a pivotal role in helping the company scale through its monumental growth.
Amanda is known as an advocate for other Admins, but she’s also a powerful voice for something else: self-advocacy. Especially in a role where your job is to support others and help them succeed, your own strengths, needs, and accomplishments can get shuffled aside. Amanda offers a valuable perspective on this phenomenon: When Admins lobby for more, love what they do, and succeed at it, everyone wins: the Admin, the executive they serve, and the company at large.
But you don’t have to take our word for it about the many things that make Amanda extraordinary. Her nominations more than speak for themselves, including Roblox Office Manager Karen Neyman’s assertion: “I don’t believe we would be where we are as a company if not for her special brand of attentiveness to staying true to our mission, vision, and values.”
We’re thrilled to honor Amanda Nunez as a 2022 OfficeNinjas All-Star, and we can’t wait to share her unique and empowering story with you.
How long have you worked as an Admin+ professional? What path led you to this career, and what makes it a good fit for you?
I’ve been an EA for about 16 years. I did not intend to be an EA growing up. I always thought I’d go into education and dreamt of becoming a teacher. While at college as a liberal studies major, I worked at a spa as a receptionist and eventually became a personal assistant to the spa owner. The PA role was the first time I recognized that I was really good at helping other people organize their day-to-day lives.
After college, I moved back to the Bay Area and got a temporary job as a receptionist/EA. Although this was a temp role, it was one that I excelled at and I quickly became a full-time employee. It was this opportunity that shifted my focus and started me on my EA career path.
I think what really made the EA role appealing to me was my desire to help others. I liked being a resource for people and helping them to complete their tasks. It brings me satisfaction to help people succeed and accomplish their goals. My family laughs because my own personal life is not always the most up-to-date or scheduled, but when it comes to my job — and with my executives — I am extremely focused and driven. Everything is scheduled to a tee and I know exactly where they’re at or where they are going. I enjoy building relationships with my executives and doing whatever I can to make their lives easier. I love that I can make their days more productive, help them keep track of their deliverables, and allow them space to focus on their priorities.
While I’m also very driven individually, it’s satisfying for me to help people succeed and accomplish their goals. I like building relationships with my executives and doing whatever I can to make their lives easier. And the range of my role has also changed between executives — helping out with their kids, helping out with their dogs, anything! I think of my role as encompassing anything I can do to make my executives’ lives easier, and I’m happy to do it. This is one of the things that makes the role a good fit for me.
Although being an Admin may not have been something I thought I’d end up doing when I was younger, it is something that I found I was really good at. I have the core skills and competencies that you need to be a successful EA, and I love being a career EA!
Where does your drive come from? What keeps you motivated?
One of my nominators wrote that they think I inherited my incredible work ethic from my immigrant parents, and I agree that this is true.
I grew up on the Central Coast of California, where there is a large population of migrant workers. Both of my parents worked in the fields when they were young. Neither have a college education, but through their hard work, determination, and sacrifices, they were able to provide for my sisters, my brother, and me. Together, my parents were able to create a new path not only for themselves but also for us. In one generation, my family went from working in the fields to becoming successful professionals.
I fully acknowledge that I get my work ethic from my parents. I am not sure how or when it happened. I was never given a grandiose speech about having to work hard to accomplish my dreams, although I am sure I was told that when I was younger.
I think it was less about what my parents said and more about what they did. When work had to be done, there were no excuses, you got up and did it — and if you made a mistake, you learned from it and tried again. They never quit. My parents are loving, kind, and funny individuals, but they also possess strength (in different ways) that I can’t explain. As a child, I witnessed my parents’ actions and the way they carried themselves. They always worked hard, appreciated what they had, and put their all into everything they did. It is this behavior that I think — or at least hope — I emulate now as an adult.
During COVID, my Goldendoodle, Maysie, and I went to visit my parents for a two-week stay — which turned into two years. I recall one morning, in the middle of Roblox’s IPO prep, when Maysie and I went for a ride. I had been pulling long hours and was completely exhausted, and I needed a break before starting another day. I remember driving past the fields and seeing the farmworkers. Although I was just starting my day, it was obvious that they had already been working for hours. There were rows of men and women harvesting produce. As I sat in my car, I imagined my parents out in the field and I realized that I would never know the extent or the type of hard work that they had endured. I think it is partly that experience that contributes to the strength that they possess.
My parents didn’t just teach me about hard work. Their example also laid the foundation for who I am now. I try to show up with integrity every day and be a thoughtful team member — someone that my colleagues respect and trust. I have confidence in my abilities and know that I am a great EA, but I also recognize that I still have a lot to learn. At times, the EA role can become overwhelming so I try to keep things in perspective. While this isn’t always easy, I recognize that I work for an amazing company, have a great boss, and have the best team members anyone can ask for. I am truly grateful!
You went from being Roblox’s first EA to growing a team of 5 EAs in 2020 to leading a team of 20+. Tell us about the journey of how you grew your team and one (or two) processes you put in place that was paramount to building a cohesive team.
I started at Roblox almost five years ago and am the most tenured EA at the company. In 2020, we closed for Covid with five EAs. Next month we will return to the office with 20 EAs and multiple open headcounts.
Working from home and building the team was one of the hardest transitions of my career. It forced me and our team to revisit how we evaluate candidates. Prior to Covid, I put a lot of emphasis on observations and gut instincts. I focused on body language and mannerisms. During COVID, we conducted a lot of interviews via Zoom and I no longer had the option of personal interaction. I quickly learned that skills I had previously depended on did not translate well over a computer screen.
One of the main shifts that allowed us to grow our team was our ability to iterate and rethink how we evaluated our candidates. We created a writing assignment for all candidates to complete, and assigned specific target areas for each interviewer to focus on. These minor adjustments have helped us hone in on candidates’ skillset to determine if they are the right fit for the role.
Finding and retaining great talent is one of the most important elements of a successful team. It’s important to utilize your network and resources, and it is also important to get the entire team involved.
At Roblox, we do “sourcing parties.” We start the event by discussing what roles we have open and sharing key characteristics like values alignment and skillset that we think will help people to be successful in those roles. We try to make the event casual by providing goodies and playing music. We also populate a shared doc for each job opening. We start with our own individual networks and then branch out to a more general search. The team supplies candidates into the shared doc while the hiring manager reviews the profiles. We are all communicating and calibrating in real-time. We do this live so that we all have direct input on the type of candidates we are sourcing. It is a ton of fun and surprising to see how many potential candidates can come out of one event.
“At one point, Amanda was the only EA at the company. Roblox has grown at a fast pace, and Amanda now leads a team of over 20 EAs. She makes it appear that the challenges in growing this org have been fun problems to solve. She has worked on creating the appropriate structure for the way the team is organized. She has worked to recruit for greatness as we build our team. She has worked with us to refine the way we onboard new hires, and the way that we foster cohesion, trust, and confidence in an ever-evolving team.” — Karen Neyman, Office Manager, Roblox
A question you ask yourself and others is, “How can our processes scale?” Can you share your step-by-step approach to finding ways to streamline or improve processes and workflows?
COVID didn’t just change the way we interviewed candidates. It also forced us to revisit how we share information. Pre-COVID, a lot of our information was stored in our heads and shared verbally. Additionally, because the company was smaller, each EA was the expert of their own domain and the “go-to” person who knew exactly what was going on within their org.
But when you scale, information is disseminated throughout the organization. Groups that originally had one EA now have two or three. There is no longer one point person per org. The main thing that we learned — especially when onboarding — was that documentation was key. We started to ask questions like:
- What should an onboarding experience look like for our EAs?
- What information do they need to be successful in their role?
- How can we share the information that we all have in our brains with new teammates and each other?
- How do you share that information when you can’t have organic in-person conversations?
- And how do you make sure they understand everything when you can’t talk face-to-face?
We started to think more about how to document our roles, what we were doing, and where people would go for access to information. We realized that successful onboarding needed to be less about verbal communication and more about documentation.
Over the past two years, we’ve created a deck EA Playbook. We joke around because it was one of those things that started out as a simple, “Oh, this would be good to have documented somewhere.” It has since grown into about 100 slides! If you need to find out anything, a “Ctrl-F” search in the playbook is your best friend.
Putting processes in place is one thing, but finding ways to consistently streamline things to ensure that there isn’t only one point of contact is also a great way to utilize your team members and your resources. That way you are not always funneling questions to one person. The EA Playbook was one way for us to achieve that goal.
Also, I was originally the one who would onboard our EAs and other employees. However, once we began to scale, we started using a buddy system. We mapped out each EAs specific areas of expertise, such as expenses, travel, time analysis, and so on. Then, they became mentors of those areas. This allowed all of our EAs to not only strengthen our skills but also contribute to the onboarding process.
“Amanda is always one step ahead with everything she does. One noteworthy thing she’s done has been changing up the interview and onboarding process to ensure that during their interview, each and every EA was getting the right questions asked and that each and every new hire coming on to our team was getting the right material to feel successful and a part of the team from the very beginning.” — Erin Kunes, Facilities, Roblox
How do your employer and team members help you succeed?
My executive and team members in the Office of the CEO have shown me how to be more thorough in the work that I produce. With their guidance, I have learned to be more inquisitive and ask different types of questions that elicit more comprehensive responses. Their support has provided me with a stronger sense of confidence. I have more assurance in who I am as an individual and in my work performance. They give me the autonomy to work on projects that I am passionate about while at the same time encouraging me to step outside of my comfort zone. This has had a huge impact on me, and it’s absolutely one of the things I appreciate about my company.
I’ve been in other places where an EA attends meetings to take notes or to run the decks. At Roblox, my executive allowed me early on to be that partner with him. He made me feel that when I attended a meeting, I was there as a participant and contributor to the conversation. I am really fortunate for that opportunity. Early on, he helped me find my footing and my voice. It was instrumental to me understanding my value as a strategic partner.
“It’s hard to pinpoint specific items when so many stand out, but to name a few, Amanda quietly took on advocating for the EAs to make sure everyone was getting leveled correctly and getting paid fairly. She thinks through every detail when it comes to events or big company meetings. During events, she is always in the background making sure everything is just right. For internal and external comms, she reads through everything and makes sure it reflects the best voice for the company.” — Kimberly Carrillo, Executive Business Partner, Bitski
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How do you help your employer and team members succeed?
EAs can be seen in many different ways. I know I’m fortunate because I’ve always been valued by the people I’ve worked with, but Roblox was the first time that I really felt like a strategic partner and understood every aspect of what that meant. It wasn’t just about knowing the day-to-day of my executive, but about thinking more “big picture” and asking questions like:
- What are his priorities?
- What are his projects?
- How can I do a deep dive into these things?
- Which of these things can I take and make my own?
There are all kinds of ways to enhance our skills while looking at things differently. But taking ownership is a big part of it. Before, I was more just a scheduler working with the calendar. Being a strategic partner has changed the type of EA I am, and has allowed me to make a bigger impact on my exec and organization.
Tell us about a specific time you found success in failure. What factors influenced your ability to bounce back and be resilient?
Not too long ago, I was in a situation where I made a call and it turned out to be the wrong call. I had members of the senior staff pinging me, and the CEO was pinging them — and they were all asking the same thing: How did this happen? Although the action was already done and it was too late to change the outcome, I had to go to our CEO, my direct boss, to take responsibility for the decision and apologize for my oversight.
One of the things that allowed me to bounce back and be resilient is that we have a no-blame culture here at Roblox. I recognized that I made a huge mistake, but my CEO’s response was, “Okay, I appreciate you trying to fix it,” and to move on. That no-blame culture gave me the freedom to learn from that mistake, and it also taught me that it was okay and necessary to take ownership.
In that situation, I also had to apologize to the senior staff and executives about having made the wrong decision. I remember our Chief of Staff saying, “Hey, it’s okay. We all make mistakes.” The fact that everyone responded in the same accepting way and was ready to move on so quickly without making me feel bad about it was also a valuable lesson learned. Not only did their flexibility and understanding help me bounce back, but I learned from owning my mistake — and it’s not one I’m likely to make again.
That situation really allowed me to grow, and to feel comfortable continuing to make decisions. I recognized at that moment that I’m not always going to make the right decisions, but doing the best I can is all I can ask for: Learn from it, and then move on without dwelling on it.
I also think I was more upset with myself than any of my team members were with me. I’ve always held myself to a really high bar, but now I recognize that there are going to be times when I make a mistake, and it’s not the end of the world. As long as I make recommendations based on the information I’ve got, and perform to the best of my ability, that’s enough. That’s all that anybody can ask for. That’s all I can ask of myself. And that’s all my team members can ask of me.
That failure happened fast and large, but it gave me permission to not be so risk-averse moving forward, right? It was a really big learning experience — also because it taught me personally just how thoughtful and caring my team members and my CEO could be.
“Amanda has such a positive, commanding presence and is extremely talented at leading effective meetings. She acknowledges and respects everyone’s opinions and contributions, and is a crystal clear communicator while still being her authentically warm, considerate, and caring self. Sitting in on her driving our CEO’s AMAs and our Weekly Team Syncs is akin to watching a conductor orchestrate a symphony.” — My Frisella, Executive Assistant, Roblox
What’s one thing you’ve done that’s been the most impactful in advancing your career? Did you know at the time the significance of that move? Were there any risks involved?
I’d say this would be me shifting to join Roblox. Roblox was an opportunity that came up via an introduction by one of the board members. But prior to that, I’d been very happy where I was. I’d worked for the same executive for over ten years at two different companies. I had grown my career with her, loved my job, loved my role, and had never considered leaving the role or her. In fact, I’d recently gotten promoted! I was very happy where I was and with the direction my career was taking.
I remember taking a call with the then-CTO of Roblox. I thought the call was supposed to be him sharing his workstyle and me advising him on what type of characteristics he should look for in his future EA. I remember him highlighting the company and sharing aspects of the role. The whole time I was thinking, “This sounds amazing and I want to be part of it.” When I think back about it, I laugh now. Because I had no idea how much my life and my world would shift by just taking this one call.
After our introductory conversation, I was completely taken by what Roblox was building, its impact, and the vision shared by the CTO. I was hooked. I had another call with the CTO, followed by an in–person meeting with him and a few of his direct reports. Then I met with the CEO, who I’d eventually end up working for directly. Within two weeks, I had a job offer. I’d never even heard of this company, and suddenly I was committing to join them!
I remember going into my then-boss’s office to submit my resignation and we were both in tears. I didn’t have a tangible reason for why I was leaving other than I just felt like there was something at Roblox that I wanted to be a part of. It goes back to that instinct that I was talking about — there was just something so special about this company. But still, at the time I had no idea about the significance of the move. I just knew I had to try it.
When I accepted the Roblox job, I was confident that I was a very seasoned and skilled EA. However, my experience was in more traditional areas like banking, real estate, VC, and more finance-based operations. My first six months as an EA at Roblox were extremely difficult. It was a completely different industry, and a completely different beast. I had no idea how different the tech world was from the more traditional sectors that I was familiar with. While I’d understood in theory that it wouldn’t be the same, being in the office was eye-opening. I quickly realized how fast-paced everything was, how quickly they scale, and how foreign the language was to me.
This had me questioning myself: Did I make the right move? I felt like I was in way over my head, and like I’d been naïve to think that as a rockstar EA who’d always done very well that I could so easily move to a field I wasn’t familiar with. I realized I still had a lot to learn. It was a very humbling experience.
I’ve been very fortunate throughout my career to work with many accomplished executives and skilled leaders in their industries. However, I’d never been in a role like I am now. The impact of what we were dealing with is so much larger than I had ever been exposed to and I have such a clear vision of what we are building and what we can achieve. I’ve probably learned more in the last five years than I have in my entire career prior to Roblox!
What’s an unconventional path you’ve taken? To what do you credit your initiative and success?
Certainly, it was a leap of faith to join a company that I wasn’t aware of (although it was already known to many people — including many seven-to nine-year-olds). But I just had a gut feeling that I needed to be part of it. The fact that I opted to switch roles so quickly was uncharacteristic for me, but I really felt like there was something that was driving me to Roblox. And, of course, there were risks. I was starting with a whole new company. Even though it was already pretty well-established, it was by no means the name it is now.
If I hadn’t made that move, I wouldn’t be the EA I am today.
What’s a unique system, habit, or framework you’ve followed that has accelerated your career goals?
If you’re an EA, then you’ve got a system, even if just using Boomerang to control your inbox. For example, I use Asana because it helps me organize and understand my day-to-day deliverables. There are a lot of options, and the key is finding the best ones that work for you — whether it’s to maximize your output, stay organized, maintain your focus on what you’re working on at a particular moment, or something else.
One of the habits that has really helped accelerate my career growth was reframing how I show up with my executives. In the past, I’d approach my executives with questions and let them drive the conversations. But I have learned how to show up to the conversation differently. I’m the one that creates the agendas and provides the documentation, and this lets me streamline and frame how I want a meeting to take place. From this perspective, I “own” the meeting.
On a related note, one of the main habits I’ve adopted is to always have a recommendation. For any question I ask, I’ve already got a recommendation in my mind that I want to propose. I’ll go to my executive and instead of saying, “Hey, do you want this or that?” I say, “This is what the situation is, and this is my recommendation.” This habit also forces me to take a long view and to ask deeper questions like, “Do I have all the materials for this?” I might also have to go back to some team members and say, “Hey, I need more information to come up with a thorough recommendation for this.” Whereas before I would have just kind of put that on my executive or a team member, I do it proactively myself.
In addition to strengthening my ownership, adopting this habit has improved my thought process and project management skills. It means I’m thinking about things like impact, pros and cons, the unforeseen, and so on. A lot of it comes from practice, and you can start small with something like saying to a team member, “Hey, I noticed this. This is what I would recommend. Do you agree?” Learning how to do this has really accelerated my career growth and goals — and also helped me pay attention to which recommendations were off, and which turned out to be aligned with the outcomes we were looking for. My recommendations have definitely become more aligned with my executives.
Another amazing resource is the OfficeNinjas newsletter, which I’ve learned a lot from and has also helped me expand my resources and my networks.
As I said earlier, I use Boomerang and Asana, but there are multiple systems and programs out there now to help EAs be more efficient. But you’ve got to research it, try it, and find the things that work for you. You also have to have the flexibility to pivot, try different things, and not be stuck with one program. A program might work for your colleague, but it may not work for you. Exploring your options and finding the one that’s best for you will make you the most efficient and best admin you can be.
“Amanda understands how to play to each of our strengths, she allows us to work on things that we want to work on and, most importantly, she always listens to what we have to say! She continues to be our advocate and levels us to truly be strategic business partners.” — Chris Tran, Executive Assistant, Roblox
Share something that you used to believe about the Admin+ profession but you no longer believe?
Early on, I don’t think I really understood the role of an EA or other Admin professionals. And I recognize that there are still some people that don’t fully understand our value, which is why I try to raise awareness about what this role can entail.
There are so many different ways to look at an Admin professional. I think that the main thing is that as a career EA, there are a lot of different avenues you can take to enhance your career — whether it’s positioning yourself as a strategic partner, executive business partner, chief of staff, or a different kind of Administrative professional. There are many different titles, but it’s still an endless role of responsibilities. So focusing on where your skills are and recognizing your personal strengths can help you be your own advocate and move forward.
With the right partners and colleagues, I now know that there are no limitations and a bounty of opportunities in this role.
What’s a piece of career advice you’d share with other Admins seeking to elevate their careers, make a more significant impact, and garner more recognition for their contributions?
I’m so grateful and honored to have been picked by OfficeNinjas as an All-Star this year. One of the messages I’d love to share is how important it is to surround yourself with amazing team members. In fact, one of the reasons I’m being honored this year is because I’ve been able to bring so many incredible people onto my team and we all support each other. This doesn’t just apply to my colleagues and other EAs, but also to my executives, too.
It’s so important to find a place that really allows you to be yourself. One of the things we always talk about within our EA team is having a safe space in which to bring ourselves forward — to ask questions and be professional, but also to be silly and have fun. So that’s definitely one of my tidbits of advice: to surround yourself with people who really bring out the best in you. And I’m fortunate enough here at Roblox to have that.
“Amanda is always seeking ways to improve the Roblox EA team, whether it be through training, or shining a light on the strengths of team members by having them share their skills and experience with others. Amanda has thought out and put forth a plan to improve our EA Playbook, which is a reference resource for everyone on the team. Her plans to improve this document will ensure our team continues to be world-class. Amanda also regularly monitors the organization’s EA workload to ensure a fair and work-balanced experience for the EA team.” — Jaime Caban, Executive Assistant, Roblox
I have colleagues who not only nominated me and support me, but also inspire me to show up as my best self every single day. They may not do things exactly how I would do it, but I trust that the high caliber and effective execution will be there. I am also fortunate to be part of a team where I can show up when I’m having a bad day and say, “Hey, I’m having a bad day” or “I’m frustrated about this” or “I need help with this,” and know that I have teammates who will show up and say, “Hey, I’m here to help” or “I can take that on” or “I can be your partner in this.”
And the same goes for my executives. You want people you can be honest with — people who see the strengths in you and want to help you hone in on them. I not only have this with my CEO, but also with other members of the Roblox senior staff, who have mentored me and provided me with opportunities.
However, there’s a catch to all of this: you have to take advantage of these opportunities. When something’s presented to you, you have to grab hold of it, do the best you can with it, and show the other team members what you can accomplish. And you should always be finding opportunities for yourself to enhance and demonstrate your skills. This can be hard because we often work behind the scenes in this role. When I talk about evaluations and performance reviews with executives, I always say, “If an EA is really good, you never know what they do.” The reality is that it’s not until an EA is NOT successful that it gets on the radar of their leaders.
I try to be an advocate for my team members to help them get visibility for the things they do. But it’s also our individual responsibility as EAs to showcase what we do, and also what we can do. That’s where finding areas that you’re interested in and saying, “Hey, I can do this” comes in. The right partner will say, “Okay, let’s try it.” Hopefully you’ll be successful, but if not, that’s okay, too. Maybe that wasn’t the avenue you needed to focus on, and maybe there are other avenues you may be more aligned with.
Having amazing people around you makes all the difference, but at the end of the day it also comes down to showing up to the best of your ability — whatever that may be. Own things and get stuff done, but also find the fun in doing what you do, and don’t wait for people to give you opportunities. Go out and find them yourself!
And last but not least — never devalue yourself because you’re in a support role. You’ve got to know your own individual value and how much you bring to the table. EAs sometimes tend to take a backseat in our careers and our focus because that’s the nature of what we do. Our role is always about putting other people forward. But isn’t that also what makes us great?
At the same time, I’ve seen putting other people first become detrimental to EAs. They get so focused on being in that quiet role of highlighting their executives that they don’t highlight themselves. I have some incredible team members who are great at something, but it may not be intuitive to them to showcase their individual skill sets. At the end of the day, each of us has to become our own advocate when it comes to making sure other people know what we bring to the table. Self-advocacy helps each of us build trust, transparency, and confidence. These things make us more successful, which will make our executives more successful. It really IS a partnership.
Amanda Nunez took a big career leap, and was rewarded for her courage with a fulfilling and impactful career. Her bravery, perseverance, and advocacy for all admins make her an admirable 2022 OfficeNinjas All-Star!
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