Nikki Mendonça is the EMEA President of OMD, the largest and most awarded marketing communications company in the world. She presides over 5,000+ employees, across 80+ offices in 63 markets, and oversees $19 billion in marketing communications investment from leading world class companies including McDonald’s, PepsiCo, Estee Lauder, Liberty Global and Walt Disney.
What educational qualifications do you insist on / Do you require your PA to have a degree?
No, I don’t require my PA to have a degree as I think being ‘street smart’ and using one’s initiative is much more important. The ability to think laterally and solve problems quickly is critical.
Would you agree that behind every great business leader is a great PA?
Not necessarily, although I do think that a great PA allows a great leader to be even more effective and efficient in their role as they can help drive one’s productivity through improved time management.
A great PA allows a great leader to be even more effective and efficient in their role
What makes a great PA over a competent PA?
Someone who gets to know your likes and dislikes very quickly and manages your life accordingly, without having to check in with you!
Do you think the importance of emotional intelligence in a PA is sometimes overlooked for a strong skill set?
No, emotional intelligence is very important to me as we are a people business. My PA has to deal with a very broad spectrum of characters, across 50+ markets and she needs to understand the issues, sensitivities and challenges they have. This helps me prioritise every day.
What key attributes, traits and skills do you look for above all others when employing a PA?
Being articulate and well-spoken is important to me as it creates a strong impression with our clients. Excellent time management and a brilliant memory are also critical.
How do you keep your PA motivated?
By showing her that she is a valuable part of the wider team and respecting that her job is super challenging at times and rewarding her accordingly.
Is your PA an ambassador for you and your office?
Not really as I am very accessible and anyone in the EMEA region can contact me directly about anything 24/7.
Is your PA a confidante and sounding board for you?
Yes, on both personal matters and sharing anecdotes when I am having a bad day at the office! Having the trust that your comments won’t go any further is very important.
Do you empower your PA by allowing autonomous decision making in any key areas?
Yes, once my PA knows what I want and don’t want then I do give ample latitude to make autonomous decisions – especially in the area of who to slot and not to slot in the diary!
Do you encourage ambition in your PA by offering a structured career path into an alternative role within your organisation?
We operate a meritocracy at OMD and welcome ambitious people so there are always opportunities for the taking. We also equally respect the fact that not everyone is chasing a senior management role and that they may be very content with the comfort of a position they can do brilliantly without too much stress or pressure.
Would you agree that chemistry is the key ‘ingredient’ for a successful long term working relationship between a PA and Principal?
Yes, and more specifically sharing the same sense of humour. You have to have fun at work as that is where we all spend the majority of our time!
You have to have fun at work as that is where we all spend the majority of our time!
Are you conscious of boundaries where a task may be classified as beyond the call of duty?
Yes, I never take advantage as that’s not my style.
Would the lack of a PA impede your everyday output?
Yes, I don’t think I would get as much done every day!