Polly Bidgood is Development Director at Tate, responsible for devising and implementing all strategies for fundraising from the private, public and corporate sectors.
With over 14 years’ experience of fundraising and leadership within the arts and cultural sector, Polly has a reputation for motivating and enthusing large teams, whilst consistently delivering against ambitious income targets through commercial and philanthropic activity.
Do you require your PA to have a degree?
No, I don’t consider it essential. I have reached my current position without a degree and would like to think this has been achieved on merit, personality, ability and skill. I believe in encouraging others of a similar disposition to achieve likewise and for it never to be assumed that someone is at a disadvantage for not having attained a degree.
Would you agree that behind every great business leader is a great PA?
Definitely! I believe in the principle of surrounding myself with giants and a great PA is an integral part of my successful delivery. Somebody who has the skill and intelligence to manage a pressured diary, navigate a complex organisation while retaining clarity of vision is totally invaluable.
I believe in the principle of surrounding myself with giants and a great PA is an integral part of my successful delivery.
How do you keep your PA motivated?
I recognise the importance of positive motivation, having been fortunate enough to have experienced first-hand the benefits and ‘feel good factor’ of being managed in this way myself. For me, it really is as simple as the old adage ‘do as you would be done by’. I therefore ensure the individual feels valued and has a sense of ownership and autonomy in the role and the way in which they go about it. It is important to me that I demonstrate an appreciation, interest and understanding in their circumstances and personal life in order to achieve a positive and productive partnership.
I recognise the importance of positive motivation, having been fortunate enough to have experienced first-hand the benefits and ‘feel good factor’ of being managed in this way myself.
What key attributes, traits and skills do you look for above all others when employing a PA?
I look for the following:
- Excellent command of the primary language, both verbal and written
- Discretion and diplomacy
- Emotional intelligence
- Ability to influence and engage individuals across different hierarchies and from diverse backgrounds
- A great sense of humour!
Do you encourage ambition in your PA by offering a structured career path into an alternative role within your organisation?
Yes, I would absolutely be willing to do so and support any ambition harboured, however it would need to be after a reasonable period of service where they have demonstrated loyalty, skill and are clearly of material suitable for the proposed or desired future role. The transition would need to be managed and I would also hope they would be proactive in their own succession planning.
Would the lack of a PA impede your everyday output?
Yes, immeasurably! Without my PA it would be extremely difficult to function at the pace and level required. In an instant my diary may need to be entirely rescheduled, presentations compiled or international travel arranged. My PA and her capabilities make me far more productive and focussed and allow me to provide greater value to the organisation.
Without my PA it would be extremely difficult to function at the pace and level required.
Would you agree that chemistry is the key ‘ingredient’ for a successful long term working relationship between a PA & Principal?
I certainly believe chemistry is one of the few key ingredients, but cannot be considered the sole component. Professionalism, dedication, capability and emotional intelligence have to be up there on an equal footing.