Take That’s former management assistant talks of how life after working for the band has inspired her to help a new generation of Virtual Assistants.
Sarah-Jane Heath (known in the business as SJ) spent many years at the top of her profession, travelling the Globe with one of the UK’s most successful boybands, Take That, at the height of their comeback. She recently caught up with Liz Taylor, celebrity event planner and hospitality consultant, on her Events That Made Me podcast, where this high-flying PA shared plans for her new business, as well as her thoughts on how PAs really can have it all.
During the interview with Liz, SJ described the moment she decided to become a virtual assistant and how she hopes to help other PAs make the same transition. Saying: “I thought, Oh God, what am I going to do? Do I have to go back to that commuting world? I’ve got a dog. I’ve got this lovely house in Kent and I’ve worked remotely for well over 10 years now. I’m very used to it. So, at the time I thought, right, I’m going to carry on doing what I’m doing online. All I’ve actually done is lost a client. I’m going to replace the client.”
She, added: “So, that was a real quick mindset check that I needed, and it took about half an hour. I was very proud of that moment, I thought I’ve got to turn things into the positive. I decided then I want to do coaching for VAs and I want to teach other people how to do this, but I have to walk the walk first.” HEAR AUDIO
It is this growth mindset that has helped SJ to find positivity amid the coronavirus pandemic, and set up Sarah-Jane Heath & Co, a virtual company providing an executive business support and lifestyle management service to a diverse high-profile client list. From A-list celebrities to managing directors in the entertainment, music and creative industries.
The PA entrepreneur believes that being forced to work from home has gone some way to changing attitudes towards flexible working, especially within the PA industry. She hopes this will pave the way for those wishing to continue when the world returns to normal. She, explained: “People often say, ‘oh no, I have to have a PA in the office.’ And you’re trying to say, no, you don’t, you don’t have to have someone there. I think that the trust has changed now for people to realise that they can work with people online.
It sounds a bit anti-feminist, but I just think for these mums that have had to leave the kids to go up to London and worry and feel guilty for having to travel and not be home for the kids. Why are you putting yourself through that when you could actually take the kids to school yourself, and then be at home and work and earn the same money.”
For the full interview, listen here https://podfollow.com/etmm-liz-taylor to Events That Made Me with SJ Heath from 9am on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.
Host Liz Taylor also asked SJ to share the chain of events that catapulted her into the world of showbusiness 21 years ago. At that time, she was happy living an ordinary life working for a law firm in London, but after winning a competition for a holiday in the Maldives, she met someone who worked for Take That band member, Mark Owen. That someone, in her words, became an ‘instant best friend’. On the last day of the holiday, he asked her if she could design a new website for Mark. A moment SJ describes as life changing:
“It’s almost like, my life kind of flipped overnight. I had this split-second thought – if I say yes, everything is going to change. So, I said, yes, I can do websites. So, I came home and taught myself how to do websites. I built a website for Mark in my spare time. I used to commute to London, got a coach at half five in the morning, did a full-time job, got home at eight o’clock at night, sat down and had dinner, then built a website till about 12, one o’clock in the morning. Then got up and did it all again for about a year. And the whole time I thought if I do this website, I’m going to work with Take That.”
The rest is history, and she hopes this story will inspire others to have the courage to make a similar ‘return on opportunity.’ She, continued: “As you said, everybody kind of always says, you’re lucky. You’re lucky to have got this job to Take That, or you’re lucky to have had that, but it’s not about that. It’s definitely about seeing a door, a jar and pushing it through. And I really want to share that with other people.” HEAR AUDIO
For SJ, the Virtual Assistant movement is something any PA should consider if they’re looking for a better work life balance on not seeing a return on their time through freelancing. She also appealed to businesses wanting to digitalise their offering. She, summarised: “So I do feel that I’m at the pinnacle moment of this exploding and becoming such a popular thing. More people are taking their business online and realising that their assistant is skilled in not just being a PA, but in so many different areas that can help a business. A virtual assistant is an online business.
I teach people to own their online business and to really make more money out of it because ultimately that’s what we’re here for. You know, I’m not trying to just have a job, obviously wants to be a success. And I want other people to be a success as well.”