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Member Spotlight: Michelle Banham, CoS at Offsite

In this Chief of Staff Network Member Spotlight, you will learn from Michelle Banham, the Chief of Staff at Offsite.

How did you get into your CoS role at Offsite?

After an unexpected layoff, I decided to leave the EA role behind and jump head first into Chief of Staff applications, with no CoS titles on my CV yet. After 6 weeks, I had several interviews but no offers. I knew it was time to step out of my comfort zone if I really wanted to land my first Chief of Staff role. I took a deep breath and posted a shameless plug on LinkedIn! It was viewed by over 32,000 people globally and resulted in many helpful and inspiring chats and leads. I was emailed by a stranger who saw my post and she told me she knew of someone hiring a CoS in the US. I applied for the job and here I am today, the Chief of Staff + 3rd hire for the fast growing start up Offsite!

What advice would you give to an EA looking to transition to a CoS role?

Absolutely go for it with all you got! There are countless reasons why an Executive Assistant skill set will prepare you for a Chief of Staff role. If this is your next career move, take time now to build your project management experience by leaning into project opportunities in your current role. The EA role serves as an administrative extension of the leadership team and the CoS role serves as more of a strategic arm of the leadership team. Ask yourself (and your manager) where you can contribute to strategic projects or OKRs for the business. Contribute to or own projects from start to finish! This will prepare you for the many hats you’ll wear in the CoS role. 

What were some of the key learnings or breakthroughs you had while working as a CoS?

Have a Generalist mindset. It’s ok to be continually exploring and learning new things. Be ready to wear all the hats! Tackle new challenges as if you’re encountering them for the first time, this way you see multiple angles instead of acting out of bias or routine of what you’ve done in other companies.  Use your experience to make suggestions, but always remain open to finding multiple solutions that will work best for your business. 

What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of your CoS experience?

The most rewarding part of working at Offsite is knowing my work directly contributes to the fabric of the business, as it’s building from the foundation-up. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved with People and Culture related projects and to refine our SOPs across all departments. The challenge: when the business is under pressure, we learn where we need to improve (we need the growing pains to help lead the way)!   

If you could wave a magic wand, with 3 wishes for your role, what would they be?

  1. That my work always leaves my team feeling supported and excited for the future
  2. That my CoS skills get stronger with every passing quarter
  3. That I can start to give back to others by sharing experiences I’ve learned from

What’s something that you want to learn? (professional or not!)

I’d love to learn how to golf this summer! 

What’s something that you’re sneaky good at or that people wouldn’t expect about you?

Scrabble! I get super competitive and bust out the totally obscure two letter words at the end of the game!  Like “Qi” :) 

What’s the best professional advice that you’ve ever been given?

Everyone in my immediate family are entrepreneurs! When I worked at my fathers’ company, he made it clear that you have to earn the respect of your colleagues before any true connection and cooperation can occur. He believed the CEO of a business should understand how every role in the business works, first hand. This advice followed me through my career and probably explains why 3 of my top 5 Clifton Strengths results are Relator, Empathy, Includer!

... and that's a wrap! Thank you so much Michelle!

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