It is very refreshing to meet people who, apart from dedicating themselves passionately to their job, also find time, sometimes at great sacrifice, to indulge in several other activities, which make their lives healthier, more interesting and exciting, thus forming them better and more complete persons even in their profession.
Undoubtedly, Amanda Cachia, PA to the Chief Operating Officer of Corinthia Hotels Ltd (CHL), is one of these blessed persons. Although she has more than a plateful of working dose, she practices yoga training once weekly and cross-fit exercises three times a week, before or sometimes after work.
She adores cooking at the weekends for friends and family and has a passion for acting, which she has done for many years, starting from the Grupp Atturi Salesjani and moving out to other experiences. “I think I am more at ease when I act dramatic parts.”
She also plays the flute, though she admitted that “I have now lessened my practice owing to other commitments.” Trekking with her partner, Darren, and their beloved dog Milly is a favourite exercise.
Swimming is also a much-welcome relaxation and she also finds time for voluntary work as she is also secretary on the committee ‘Friends of Don Bosco’ dedicated to social work with young people. She took a few seconds before taking her plunge for the final sentence. “And I have also done paragliding and skydiving. I love that feeling of adrenalin surge.”
No time wasted! As one Maltese poet, Oliver Friggieri, once said: ‘Collecting minutes is the secret to expanding one’s horizons.’
What qualities should a Personal Assistant have? Amanda was quick on the draw. “Good communication is essential. One must also be very well organised and retain a good connection with the executive one is assisting. You must be able to read the non-verbal and thus feel the person’s mood. Discretion is a must; confidentiality is paramount. One should always remain alert, ahead of what might happen, and anticipate! A passion for learning is an excellent ingredient. Checking and double-checking is a recommended practice.
‘It is not a 40-hours-per-week job. My COO, Roderick Micallef, travels often for work and time zones may differ. Many plans may have to change owing to unexpected circumstances, and I would certainly have to assist whatever the time. My mobile and laptop are never too distant from me!’
But what would a typical day consist of? Amanda chuckled softly. “Every day is different because the work is very dynamic and requires quick and timely adaptation, whilst offering the best service. So, the ingredients of the day vary. But there’s a lot of diary management and frequent prioritisation work. Naturally, I would have to prepare and provide my COO with all the documentation he would require during a meeting. Minutes, correspondence, plans etc. I also find that reminders, both to the COO and clients, help avoid loss of time since often meetings are held back-to-back. Then there is the minute-taking of meetings and chasing persons on action points to be fulfilled within time. Travel arrangements abound, including last-minute transfers and accommodation etc. I also assist in travel arrangements of several who report to my COO, whether these reside in Malta or abroad.” Amanda smiled and added: “So, yes, I am still far from being redundant!”
Amanda holds an MSc in Management and is working on a thesis on ‘Employee retention and their commitment to the company’. One can say she was born a Corinthian because, during her course at MCAST where she was reading Secretarial Studies, she worked for a few months as an internee with Corinthia and was requested to join at the end of that course. She first worked as an accounts executive for about four years, but her heart was attracted to other fields; she moved on to Sales Coordinator, then Executive Assistant, then moved on as PA to the General manager of Corinthia St George’s and subsequently managed the Spa there. Suddenly, COVID was the dreaded unexpected visitor. “Those were sad and dramatic times. I left Corinthia briefly, but though it was an experience, I felt somewhat homesick and returned after ten months. And here I am in my present post, which I have been doing for over two years. I feel very much at home.”
I could detect an initial slight reservation in Amanda, which gently disappeared. “Yes, I am quite reserved when I meet a person for the first time, but it does not take me long to open up. I’m a positive person at heart, and I also love seeing the positive in others. I adapt myself quickly to the difficulties I face. I love my colleagues, my work and my family.”
Amanda spoke sweetly about her father, Leli and her mother, Eva, whom she loves and admits she owes so much to. She spoke glowingly about her brother Eric, a Salesian priest, and her sister Ritianne and her family. “We are very close and enjoy each other’s company frequently.”
And when she spoke of her companion Darren, her eyes shone. “He understands me and gives me time and space to develop and meet my erratic time in my demanding job. He delights seeing me have fun in my hobbies. We enjoy each other’s company on walks, at home and…” Amanda stopped for a few seconds. “We also both love chocolate; that is why I do a lot of physical exercises. But we never eat each other’s chocolate because he loves white, and I love dark chocolate.”
Perhaps one can describe Amanda as a content all-rounder with a pulsating Corinthian heart.