Executive Leadership Support Forum: Toronto: Speaker Interview

Kara WilsonWilson
Executive Assistant to VP of Development
The Cadillac Fairview Corporation LTD.

Kara has over ten years of experience in administrative support roles with progressively increasing responsibility starting in frontline roles like reception to providing support to more senior executives. This has culminated in her current role as Executive Assistant, Development at the Cadillac Fairview Corp. Through these roles, Kara has successfully been able to balance meeting and exceeding the demanding requirements of supporting senior executives while maintaining her commitment to family and personal priorities. This has required Kara to develop a strong work ethic coupled with an understanding of the business that is required to effectively prioritize tasks and anticipate the needs of the executives. Her proactive approach, positive attitude and demeanor, together with being a committed team player has led to her becoming a valued and trusted assistant who is frequently asked to take on additional complex tasks including financial budget tracking for multi-million dollar capital development projects and the coordination of nation-wide corporate training programs.

Kara will be one of the distinguished presenters at the Executive Leadership Support Forum: Toronto.

Why is the Executive Leadership Support Forum: Toronto important for executive assistants?
I feel it’s important to be exposed to other individuals who can provide insight and advice on how to handle the situation that we all face in our roles, you can’t expect to do better if you don’t know better and the best way is to ask questions.

Independently, what have you done to work towards professional development in the past?
I have always maintained good relationships and open communication with my former managers – this has proved to be extremely valuable in making decisions and certain career choices because I receive unbiased perspectives and frank/honest opinions from individuals who have extensive experience in various industries- they’ve seen it all.

What is one thing you hope to learn or discuss with your peers at the ELS Forum?
How they have handled life balance as their careers have progressed (I’m still quite new to all of this!)

Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud.
The pace of my progression at Cadillac Fairview that came from my demonstration of a very clear and direct work ethic without compromising my personal values.

In your mind, what is one tool you can’t live without or find especially helpful in your position?
Beer (just kidding). I would say pens that don’t smear, its hard enough deciphering people’s handwriting without the ink smudging everywhere! Using basic communication avenues like texting or Google hangouts, really help get the answers you need without necessarily causing a major interruption, and my task manager in my calendar.

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting your career?
Learn how to say NO earlier, its hard when you’re young and in a new position to know not to do everyone’s work for them, be responsible for your own role not everybody else’s.

How do you define success within your role as an executive assistant?
Doing what I can to support and push for my manager’s work/life balance while maintaining my own. It’s good to remember if THEY have a balance, they’re much more likely to give you yours.