Jeremy Marsh has been in the music business since 1983 and has been key in breaking British stars such as Seal, Neneh Cherry, Enya, Soul 2 Soul and has developed the success of international acts including Lenny Kravitz, Paula Abdul, Madonna, REM and Prince. Since 2004 Marsh has been CEO of JML Partnership, a consultancy which provides management and marketing services to a range of clients including artists and consumer brands. In addition to owning JML, he is Vice-Chairman of the charity Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy and is now the Executive Vice-President of international marketing at Warner Music, working with artists such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Enya and Muse.
What educational qualifications do you insist on / Do you require your PA to have a degree?
Not necessarily, but I think this raises the fundamental question of whether someone is a career PA or using the position as a stepping stone to the next position. Either way the candidate needs to have an empathy with the other person and be able to comprehend the general tasks in the context of the overall work environment and therefore being able to prioritise individual components.
Would you agree that behind every great business leader is a great PA?
This is an overused phrase, but it’s true! Every great Business Leader I’ve met, from Richard Branson to Clive Davis, have all had a great team around them, led by a very capable PA.
Every great Business Leader I’ve met…have all had a great team around them, led by a very capable PA.
What makes a great PA over a competent PA?
The ability to predict future events and set up contingencies for a number of different scenarios – this can include travel, meetings, events etc. It’s very reassuring to know that your support team can react to all eventualities!
Do you think the importance of emotional intelligence in a PA is sometimes overlooked for a strong skill set?
Yes, but really depends on the DNA of the Boss!
Is the position of a PA given enough recognition bearing in mind the hugely positive impact a good one can make to an organisation?
Title matters and if the PA is required to have executive powers, then the title should reflect this. This is particularly important in the US and some Asian countries, where hierarchy is important.
Would you agree that chemistry is the key ‘ingredient’ for a successful long-term working relationship between a PA & Principal?
Yes – but depends on the individual and whether they like a close working relationship or more an arm’s length approach.
What key attributes, traits and skills do you look for above all others when employing a PA?
Loyal, patient, insightful, resourceful, thoughtful and the ability to work through a situation until it’s resolved.
(A key skill that I look for is) the ability to work through a situation until it’s resolved.
Is your PA a confidante and sounding board for you?
They can be, but this element usually builds up over time and again depends on the level of Executive i.e. the higher one is within the organisation the more remote one becomes and the more important a close confidante PA can become.
Do you empower your PA by allowing autonomous decision making in any key areas?
This depends on how the relationship has evolved and whether the PA has developed the respect of the Senior Management team – so the onus is on them to build their trust.
How do you keep your PA motivated? Do you encourage ambition in your PA by offering a structured career path into an alternative role within your organisation?
Again this depends on their motivation and whether they see their next step as progression within the company or developing their existing role.
Would the lack of a PA impede your everyday output?
Absolutely – I travel extensively and operate remotely, so need a great support team at the office.
Are you conscious of boundaries where a task may be classified as beyond the call of duty?
Yes and at the outset I make it clear that there will be personal tasks, but that the work projects take priority and if they are unhappy with any elements, then we must discuss immediately.
Is your PA an ambassador for you and your office?
All the time and this explained carefully at the outset.
Does your PA have access to your inbox?
Yes – I’m not a fan of ‘out of office’ replies and my PA is tasked with making personal replies to all emails when I’m on a plane or in different time zones.