Doriette McIvor-Stone works at FremantleMedia Australia, as Executive Assistant to Regional CEO Ian Hogg.
The production company is the powerhouse behind some of the world’s most recognised television, with hit programming including The X Factor, Wentworth, Neighbours, The Great Australian Bake Off and Family Feud.
Here, Doriette talks about the challenges of wrangling her boss’ hectic travel schedule in the fast-paced world of TV.
MY JOB LOOKS LIKE THIS
“I’ve worked at FremantleMedia for nearly eight years, and as EA to the Regional CEO Ian Hogg for seven of those. It’s funny where you land. It was only meant to be a three-month temp role – clearly I couldn’t find the front door to find my way out! My role is varied and it’s a constant juggle of sliding doors and shifting priorities. Diary management is a big part; trying to find a balance between two things: the time that the CEO needs to attend to his job effectively, while giving his staff the time they need to be just as effective in their roles. Add massive amounts of international and domestic travel, organising conferences and events, expenses and perfecting mugs of green tea - and you have a job!”
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TRAVEL
“Travel planning is a central part of the role. Ian is Regional CEO of Australia and Asia Pacific and is also a member of the board who meet in Europe and the US, so international business trips are par for the course. As with all work travel, it’s never as glamorous as it sounds. I am not sure what’s more difficult - Ian conducting the trip, or me organising it and ensuring it runs smoothly.”
I LIKE TO KEEP THINGS EASY
“Convenience is a key consideration when planning Ian’s accommodation. It needs to be close to where all his meetings will take place. It must have a fully equipped business centre and rooms where meetings can be held. Everyone likes to go to a hotel and be treated well and by name. It is also terribly convenient to know where things are, like the business centre or the gym. For these reasons we normally book the same hotel on each visit to a destination. It's also important to make sure your membership number for your hotel loyalty program is included in the booking so extra care will be taken by the staff when checking in - and in the hope that a complimentary upgrade might be available.”
IT WOULD HELP TO BE PSYCHIC SOMETIMES
“I need to always be one step ahead - a crystal ball would be helpful at times. Working across time zones is particularly challenging, especially when a travel schedule is completely jammed. Once Ian was on his way to a meeting in London and he was on the plane waiting to take off, when we received an email to say the meeting had to be cancelled due to circumstances that no one could control. So he flew as far as Singapore, did a business day at the Singapore office and came home again. Business life is never set in stone. Fortunately, Stage and Screen offer 24-hour emergency assistance and this service is a lifesaver. I have no idea how someone can sound so coherent and be efficient at 3am! Flexibility is paramount when your boss is travelling, so that you are focused on his day. I need to understand when he can be contacted and when not. Knowledge of geography and how to use a world clock on Google is particularly important!”
HERE’S WHAT I’VE LEARNED
“You need to know that your travel agent is the best in the business and that you can trust them to have excellent inside knowledge. Check and double-check itineraries and assume nothing when it comes to travel. Airlines and schedules are changing all the time. Always confirm whether you need a visa to enter a country as again, the rules change. Always get a new passport before the last six months of the expiry date, as many countries won't allow you to enter if you don’t. Attend hotel networking events as this is where you meet key management who will always go out of their way when you need a favour. I can’t tell you how many times that’s come in handy.”
By Amy Cooper