I had a boss who has turned out to be the best one that I have ever had, Atle Rettedal was the best boss ever! And I don’t say the words flippantly, over 10 years of industry experience and Atle is still holding the title.
I haven’t ever told the story of how I ended up as an executive assistant or the motivations behind it, when I had never been one and had actually studied Law at university.
My first official city job after University, found me working at Accenture. As a massive firm and with the position that I held in working within the facilities department, I was able to interact with a lot of people from all walks of life. The work force at Accenture is very diverse, and I found myself drawn to the Executive assistants and how happy they seemed within their roles. I wanted that level of satisfaction but I had also reached the realisation that I would like a job that let me travel and see the world. This desire led me to apply for various assistant positions, all while knowing that I lacked a key ingredient, experience.
But this article is not actually about any of that, its about the best boss I’ve EVER had, Atle Rettedal.
When I interviewed for the position at @Statoil I wasn’t aware that I would be working with him, not as a person, it was still very abstract to me and I came onboard as the assistant of one of his direct reports.
So why do I call him the best boss ever? Because he is one and is most assuredly deserving of this title. Atle saw a confidence in me that I didn’t see in myself. Thats not to say that I didn’t have confidence, I did. But it is one thing to be sure of yourself and another for someone else to be that sure of you. I have early memories of sitting at my desk and having to pep talk myself into ensuring that I got the tasks done and didn’t get too inside my own head. I remember that he very really checked with me on the tasks he had set, not because he was apathetic, he just knew that some things needed managing and others didn’t need micro managing.
One of the biggest lessons I learned from Atle, is that it is ok to say no, and the right to do so should be practised frequently. It is a well known fact that many PAs, EAs, Assistants etc have a hard time doing this. It is a key element of our jobs to ensure that we are doing everything that we can to make our bosses lives run smoother but that should never be at the expense of ourselves. One of my KPIs for my people@statoil that Atle set was for me to say No, and it took a while for me to see the value in that. It was a foreign concept to me and cultural differences between Norwegians and Brits were always surprising me.
In some of my other articles on here I briefly touch on the fact that I have experienced racism at every stage of my life, and I would be remiss if I painted a rosy image of my at my time at Statoil. However, that aside, Statoil still is top two favourite company that I have ever worked at.
I had issues like everyone else and I was lucky enough that when faced with such issues I had Atle as a boss. He stood behind me in full support when I felt I was being harassed by various people and someone would later be responsible for human rights. I believe that made the biggest difference to how the situation was treated.
Atle made work a second home for me, which given the amount of time I spent there, was a blessing. I have held positions where I dreaded going into work but that was never the case with him. Theres a saying ‘Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life’, and this held true for my role supporting Atle. I loved it. I looked forwards to going into work each day to work for him. His management team became like a second family to me and I was beyond devastated when internal restructuring meant that I lost not only him but the management team too.
To conclude, there are far too many reasons why Atle was and is the best boss that I have ever had. I would be here all day if I had to list them. I am able to look back at the early stages of my career with nothing but fond memories and smile. I don’t know many people that can say the same. When Atle left the position that made him my boss, I purchased a book from Harrods that had the title ‘Best boss ever’ on the front cover. I passed it around the company and it was filled with wonderful messages from employees who held the same sentiment that I did. One of Atle’s departing comments to me was that nothing ever went wrong. I can remember that plenty went wrong but Atle’s support in me meant i was always able to persevere and push through. Im not sure that I really truly communicated to Atle back then just how much of a difference he had made in my life and I hope that he sees the words that I have written here and knows how much it really all meant to me.
First special mention goes out to Margaret Mistry who first hired me for the position even though I had no oil or energy or specific personal assistant experience. Thank you for seeing the confidence that I have in myself as an asset.
Second special mention goes out to Anne Gerd Folden Bakken, the stretch assignments that you gave me helped me grow immensely. The opportunity to sit on the incident reporting task force become a Synergi superuser and provide assistance in the creation of the TRIPs course does not go unnoticed.
Last special mention goes to Astri Okstad, who saw something in me upon first meeting that I couldn’t see in myself. Thank you for trying to push me towards a communication role/position that I have no doubt would have been a great fit for me. All I can say is, I appreciate what you attempted to do for me. A lot of my life back then was governed by fear and the consequence of this was that I would often self-sabotage as a means of protecting myself but I have never forgotten the faith you had in me.