When I met Victoria Delia, Personal Assistant to the Area General Manager, St Julians, I liked what I saw. Well-groomed, young, fresh, attractive face, genuine smile, and soft-spoken but with a determination which surpassed that docile look. Did I get my first impressions right? I asked her about her main personal traits. ‘I would say I am reserved, quite self-sufficient, soft-hearted and compassionate.’ A good mix of resilience and compassion. ‘I admire humble and resilient individuals, just as much as I don’t like unreliable and dramatic traits.’ A good mix of no-nonsense!
I assumed that being a Personal Assistant to an Area General Manager who oversees a cluster of Corinthia-managed hotels in St Julians was a demanding job. The area comprises Corinthia Hotel St George’s Bay, Marina Hotel and Radisson Hotel St Julians.
Victoria nodded. ‘It is demanding but exciting. I feel very motivated operating at the heart of a group of hotels which vary in certain aspects but are joined by the Corinthia drive and philosophy.”
So what would be her primary duties? ‘I cannot give you an exhaustive list, but my main duties are to constantly work alongside the Area General Manager, and support him with the day-to-day hotel operations, administration and secretarial work. This includes proactive diary management, organising and taking notes during meetings, fixing travel arrangements, preparing correspondence and communications, and overseeing all administrative processes and other necessities as required. I also support the senior managers and executive staff by providing administrative support.’
I suppose the work of a Personal Assistant varies in each case. ‘They’re bound to change, but all would play a pivotal role in helping the Manager make the best use of time with administrative and secretarial tasks.
So what would she consider the right qualifications for a job like hers? Victoria unconsciously counted her answers with her fingers. ‘The tasks are numerous and vary in nature, and all have a timeframe, which is usually short and demanding. So the job certainly requires strong organisational and time-management skills. One tries to use this time as efficiently as possible, and I believe being proactive is necessary. Since a personal assistant has to pass on a stream of messages, directions and plans, the person must have good communication skills. Another challenge is multitasking since the duties vary in nature but often run parallel. Personal attention to detail is required to assist the General Manager work more efficiently and effectively.
‘Often, the list of tasks is a long one, so I find myself having to prioritise, which is not a simple process. The choice of a sequence is a very personal process based on importance, the time factor, natural progression and other aspects.
‘Being privy to confidential information is a must. My role as a personal assistant must necessarily be discrete and trustworthy.
‘All these requirements are tied to a general duty: know your manager and the organisation well. Without this knowledge, a personal assistant loses the compass of direction and makes a mess of it all.’
So can one assume that every time the boss changes, a personal assistant would need to get to know the quirks and character and mode of work of the new one within a quick and sharp learning curve? ‘Correct, I believe one must adapt swiftly to the leadership and personality of the new manager. But I would add that though a personal assistant is particularly affected, all colleagues need to accept change positively. Adaptation is a vital key to success for all the team, the operation and the organisation.’
I am sure you have your favourite within the long list of duties. Which aspects of your work do you like most, and why?
Victoria did not lose any time responding. “I enjoy knowing that I’m organising and supporting someone else’s work. This job enriches me with great satisfaction, and I know my Boss expects me to take responsibility and not shy away from decisions. It is very refreshing knowing that my work is contributing to a much wider picture, especially in a hotel environment such as this.’
You would surely look forward to relaxing after a day’s work. ‘Who wouldn’t? I look forward to an evening stroll. I love being surrounded by nature; I am constantly reminded that life is beautiful, unique and precious. I also make it a point not to forget my fitness exercises. Watching some good movie also relaxes my body and mind. Relaxation essentially enhances work performance.’
Is there a moment which you enjoy experiencing every year? ‘We hold many events at the hotel, but I would say a favourite which I thoroughly enjoy every year is the Christmas Lighting Ceremony when children dressed as angels light up the tree in the Lobby. It is such a beautiful evening. It never fails to exhilarate me.’
Victoria studied at the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS). During the course, she worked for some time within the Reservations Department of Air Malta, Head Office, and continued working there after completing her studies. But after three years, in 2009, Victoria applied for a post at Corinthia Head Office. She was ‘23 years young’ when she started working at Corinthia’s Corporate office.
‘To be honest, back then, I was looking for another job within the industry. I came across a vacancy with the holding company of the Corinthia Group, IHI. So I applied, did the interview and was accepted. I guess it was meant to be. I started as a receptionist at IHI and then moved to office assistant.
‘After eight years at IHI, I moved to CHI as an Executive Assistant to the Chief Operating Officer. Two years later, I was appointed Personal Assistant to Mr Stuart Chappell at Corinthia St George’s.’ Victoria took a deep breath and smiled gently. ‘I have been 13 years with Corinthia. Never a dull moment!’
Is ‘never a dull moment’ a blessing? ‘It’s the catalyst, the adrenaline, the force to keep on the good work with more determination and professionalism.’