Ever wondered what it was like to work for Christie’s? Well, you can find out in today’s guest post from Warwick grad, Katy Richards. Katy tells us how she worked her way into her current role as Executive Assistant to Christie’s CEO…
I applied for the Christie’s internship programme when I was still at Warwick, as I thought the scheme would be a great way to get real hands-on experience. I was right: from my first day, I felt very involved and as I began to prove myself I was given more tasks and projects. It was also my foot in the door.
My tutor at Warwick encouraged me to apply for placements in a selection of departments, to increase my chances of getting an interview. I interviewed with the press office, knowing almost nothing about PR, but they took me on because I was keen, motivated, and my degree proved I can write. Which is key for writing press releases! As my 6 month internship was coming to an end I was offered, and happily took, an internship in marketing. A few months later, the role of Coordinator for the European PR team came up. They already knew me, I knew how the department worked … I interviewed and got the job!
I was in the press office for a year and loved it. I was in charge of all department administration, and provided support to our other press offices in Europe. I most enjoyed preparing for the London evening auctions. Journalists come to those sales, expecting to be looked after, provided with stats after the auction, Christie’s thoughts on the art market etc. The team all stay for the auction, watching it on a TV in the office, whist updating spread sheets with each lot’s final price as the hammer falls. I also ran the press campaigns for a couple of specialist departments, which allowed me to work with our specialists, write a press release for their sales and pitch to journalists.
After a year, I was asked to interview for a temporary position, as personal assistant to the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer. The job was originally a 2-3 month secondment, after which I would return back to press. HR wanted an internal candidate who has existing knowledge and understanding of how Christie’s worked. I hadn’t been thinking of a change, but the opportunity of meeting the CEO was one I couldn’t miss. I interviewed with Steven and he offered me the job. It was a steep learning curve, but I was lucky that as he was new to Christie’s we could learn together! After a couple of months, he asked me to take on the role permanently.
My title is now Executive Assistant and my job involves planning the CEO’s schedule and all his travel, helping him prepare for meetings, events, speeches and anything else I can. I have a line manager and assistant, and together we support the CEO in running the company! I get to travel a little, which is demanding but great fun.
I believe that I got each job I have held at Christie’s because I have always been enthusiastic, a problem-solver, and I remain quite calm under pressure. I do try to network, but I think it’s when you really start to work your way up that that becomes a key tool for ‘opening doors’. To date, it’s been what I know, not who I know. I find Christie’s and the art market fascinating, and working alongside a new CEO allows me to understand and be a part of the changes he is making to help our company grow.
*Katy graduated in 2008 with a degree in History of Art.