VA Focus: An interview with Margaret Young

This week I'm delighted to share interview insights from an inspiring industry acquaintance and Virtual Assistant business trainer, Margaret Young.

Dublin-based entrepreneur, Margaret Young founded her virtual assistance and training business, Margaret Young Business Services, (originally called Train MY Admin) in early 2017 by identifying a niche for providing specific training to Personal and Executive Assistants.

Her productivity-oriented 1-2-1 and small group bespoke training continues to up-skill and empower her clients, and indeed her social media followers via her blog posts.

Margaret started her career as an administrator before moving to the healthcare industry where she spent over a decade in roles including PA/EA to C-suite Executives and various management roles. Her qualifications include Diplomas in Business, Public Relations, Human Resources, Sports Nutrition, and Digital Marketing.

In Summer 2017 Margaret expanded her services to include providing virtual assistance to companies and individuals for ongoing and once-off projects such as event planning and social media management. This led to the company being rebranded as Margaret Young Business Services in June 2018.

As well as blogging regularly on her website www.margaretyoung.ie, she is regular blog contributor to Eventopedia.com and The PA Way. She has been featured in print and digital media including The Herald, The Irish Times, and Evoke.ie.

Margaret is as much driven as she is inspiring, and it was an absolute pleasure to spend an afternoon with her discussing the evolving virtual assistant industry, her own business aspirations and future opportunities for us to work together. This is Margaret's interview feedback.

Tell us a bit about your role as a thought-leader within the industry and what has led you to this point?

Firstly, what is a thought leader? I went to Forbes on this one and I like their definition: “Foremost authority in selected areas of specialization, resulting in its being the go-to individual for said expertise”.

When I started my business, I didn’t set out to be thought leader per se, but I did want to be a recognized authority in admin training and medical/health services business services. So, I started writing a weekly tips email which evolved into blog posts and a monthly newsletter for which I now have over 500 subscribers.

I blog on MS Office hacks, minute taking, event management, productivity, career development and the Virtual Assistant lifestyle. I guest blog on two other websites too. Sounds like a lot but they are all intertwined. By constantly pushing myself to research and write and speak from experience, organically, I have become somewhat of a thought leader, which is very flattering and not something I take for granted.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Definitely my business, which I have been running for 18 months so far so still very much in infancy! Excited to see what the next 18 months and beyond will bring.

Do you use technology in your role, what are your favourite apps or must have gadgets?

  1. Toggl, a simple online timer with a powerful timesheet calculator. Really handy for recording how long you spend on tasks, clients, executives. If you want to improve your productivity, try using it and see how less distracted you can be.

  2. Grammarly, it corrects hundreds of grammar, punctuation, and spelling mistakes while also catching contextual errors, improving your vocabulary, and suggesting style improvements. I use it daily. I don’t send an important email or document without first uploading to Grammarly.

  3. Google maps you must be living under a rock if you don’t know that google maps offer satellite imagery, street maps, 360° panoramic views of streets, real-time traffic conditions, and route planning for travelling by foot, car, bicycle, or public transportation. How did we ever plan travel itineraries without it?

  4. Doodle, an online scheduling tool that can be used quickly and easily to find a date and time to meet with multiple people. If you have ever experienced multiple email threads trying to arrange meetings, this may make life a lot simpler.

  5. WeTransfer, a simple way to send your files up to 2GB for free. You don’t need to attach large files to emails anymore. I use this at least weekly and its brilliant.

What are your biggest challenges when planning an event remotely?

Keeping track of all the moving parts! And keeping communication flowing with decision makers.

What opportunities does using smart technology like Asemblr provide to event planners, particularly VAs?

The opportunity to keep processes efficient and stay on top of projects whilst keeping to time restraints. As VA may often have multiple clients and events, it helps to get “in the zone” as quickly as possible, which Asemblr enables them to do.

What is your favourite feature on Asemblr.com?

I like the fact that is self-contained, and everything is in one place, so when you have time allocated to your event, you can get things done and not be distracted when working on other tasks/clients. That the beauty of it for me. Also, it’s a big time-saver so no more hours of googling vendors.

What positive impacts do you think technology and the internet of things will have on the industry and VA role in the next ten years?

I’m so eager to see how things will evolve. When you look at dictation for example, from analog tapes to digital dictation and voice recognition in the last few years, it just changes the landscape of admin services so much and for the better. The more productive and streamlined workers processes can be, the better. I don’t feel a risk of major job loss, rather it frees up creative time and space, and time for human/patient/customer interaction that no technology can ever replace.

What do you see as the biggest challenge and opportunity for VAs today as event organisers?

Keeping standards high and staying original. For instance, in the medical field that I am in, I have to mindful that I don’t book the same speakers that a delegate has already seen. Sometimes this means thinking outside of the box, getting new perspective or angles on a subject instead of being very literal. I’m a big fan of a “hackathon” approach so I take that tactic when I can.

Thanks so much for taking the time to share your valuable insights with our readers, Margaret. We wish you every success in your business and career aspirations and look forward to working alongside your VAs should they be looking for an event planning platform to simplify and streamline their event management process.

If you're in the process of organising your next corporate event go to Asemblr.com now and start planning.

Margaret can be reached via one of the social channels below. Please like, follow, subscribe and share her content to ensure her audience continues to grow and that virtual assistants can access relevant insights and business support as they require it.

Margaret Young Business Services
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