Recruiting Corner: Executive Assistant Edition with Janette Levya and Rachel Chavez
We would like to have a session with the EA’s about life at Cloudflare and their role and the moderators are Roshni Hundel and Janae Frischer. The series will include 2 EA’s per session and it will be a Q&A format.
We are live with Cloudflare TV. Welcome to another session of Recruiting Corner. My name is Roshni Hundel and I'm a recruiter out of the New York office.
I've been at the company for four and a half years.
This session is our Executive Assistant Edition and we have a couple of amazing EAs with us today and we're going to get to know them a little bit better.
Janae, on to you. Hi everyone, I'm Janae Frischer.
I'm on the People, Some Places team. I work closely with all the EAs and I'm sorry, just totally blocked out and I work out of the San Francisco office.
I just realized I didn't say what office I was and I would like to introduce one of the EAs on the executive leadership, Rachel Chavez.
Hi, my name is Rachel Chavez.
I support our CEO and co-founder Matthew Prince. I work out of the San Francisco office and I have been with Cloudflare for a little bit over more than four years and now I'd like to introduce you to my colleague, Janette.
Hi everyone, my name is Janette Levya and I'm one of the Executive Assistants working out of the San Francisco office.
I've been with Cloudflare for almost two years and I currently support Joe Sullivan, our Chief Security Officer, Janette Van Heise, our Head of People and Nitin Rao, our Head of Global Infrastructure.
Awesome, well thank you for introducing yourselves.
We are very excited to have our first edition to introduce our admins and so I would like to kick it off with our first question.
How did you hear about Cloudflare?
Rachel. Okay, I could go first. So I actually found out about Cloudflare from one of my mentors.
I was looking for a role down about January 2016.
I had reached out to her because she was early on my mentor and we had stayed friends ever since and I just said, do you know anybody that's looking for EA roles in this area?
And she had mentioned that her boss literally just asked her if she knew any good EAs looking for a role.
So she actually did an email intro to me and Michelle Zatlin, who is our other co-founder and our COO of Cloudflare, and up until about two months ago, I actually supported both her and Matthew Prince.
So once I got chatting with her, I kind of researched a little bit and learned a little bit more and then that's when I came in for some on-site interviews.
Awesome, Janette, how about yourself? I found out about Cloudflare through LinkedIn a little over two years ago and it just so happened that Janae was my recruiter and she got me in touch with Rachel and I was going through a transition from an administrative assistant role and looking for the next step into my career, which was the executive assistant role, and Rachel sold me from day one and I have never looked back since then.
So good to hear both of you mentioned a couple of our sources, you know, referrals and LinkedIn are a wonderful way for us to get candidates.
All our jobs are posted on there and we love encouraging referrals as well, so that's really great.
And the next question would be, what do you believe makes a good EA?
Janette, how about you? So I believe there are specific characteristics that make up a good EA and I'm going to start off with the first one being compassionate, being able to treat every employee, it does not matter who it is, who their title is, being able to treat them with the same respect that you would treat your neighbor or your best friend goes really a long way and also developing those strong core relationships in the workplace.
My second one is going to be patience. I think being an executive assistant requires a lot of patience because you just never know what day you're going to get, you never know on what side you're going to be thrown on in a project, in an event, or things like that.
And really having the patience to be empathetic and understanding of everybody's situations as well as their calendars, as well as their daily lives really just goes a long way.
And my last one is going to be flexibility.
People often say that they don't truly understand the executive assistant role because they just don't know what it is that we do.
We have our hands in almost every pot that you can think of and it really just ties into our core responsibilities as well as the skill set that we have and it's us just being flexible.
It's us being able to bend this way or that way and it can be for the smallest task, the biggest ask, or it can just be in our everyday schedules.
Great. Rachel, how about yourself?
I have to agree with everything that Jeanette said and in addition to that I think there's something to be said about somebody that could do the EA role and who is successful at it versus a great EA.
I think to be good at being an EA you have to have some of the qualities such as being able to multitask, being efficient, being able to be flexible, being able to calendar, schedule, travel, expense reports, and all those things to be successful at the job and be good.
I think what makes a great EA is human relationships. So I think it's really important that you come in and you recognize that you don't only just represent yourself, your executive, but you also represent the company that you're with.
So understanding those core values, understanding what's important to the company as well as what's important to the executives and then just as a whole like my biggest thing in life as corny as it sounds is be a good person, be kind, be empathetic, and treat people the way that you want to be treated and I think that you are a successful and great EA when you take the time to build those relationships with people that you work with, when you really try to be flexible and don't just think about your executive schedule, you also think about what's best for the project as a whole, what's best for the company.
Can I be flexible? Can I move these things?
Is it something that I could do this favor and then down the line when I really need to not be able, when I can't be flexible, then they're going to bend those things for me.
So I think building those relationships and making sure that people enjoy working with you, that you come off as approachable is huge on being a great EA versus being successful at your job.
That's awesome Rachel and Jeanette, you both touched on what we are trying to encourage at Cloudflare, especially on the recruiting team, which is our Cloudflare capabilities, which is having, you know, empathy, getting work across the finish line, being kind, being goal-oriented, being curious and learn to grow and that you are understanding of situations and a personal experience I've had with both of you is sometimes candidates last minute they cancel on interviews or something comes up and both of you have really shined through on that and said it's okay and always give, you know, people second chances so we're always in line when it comes to that and so it's really nice to hear that both of you think that's a really good EA because that's also in line with how Cloudflare and recruiting and whole things.
On to the next question. Jay, I've always wanted to know this, we kind of talked personally about, you know, this whole COVID, having kids at home and balancing the career.
You have three executives that you support and three kids.
I would like to know how are you handling all that?
How are you balancing it? You know, I ask myself that question many days but in the beginning I will admit that it was extremely hard.
I'm not going to say it was easy because it was not.
We were so accustomed to a schedule that we had in place, meaning myself and my kids.
I commute for a living so there was just this set schedule where it was like by 6 15 you're awake, by 6 45 your teeth are washed, you have your backpack, 7 o'clock we're out the door.
You know, it turned into 7 30, 7 45 is here, let me roll out of bed and ask my mom for a pop tart and not pay attention to none of my classes.
You know, it was a constant juggle of learning where the balance was.
I think one of the things that a lot of parents have agreed upon that being remote and then having the kids, you know, you had to be their teacher, when do you turn off your laptop?
Like how do you find the time to take away?
Because you feel like if you dedicated 30 minutes to their schoolwork, you got to dedicate an extra hour to your actual work.
You know, and I have three fairly busy executives that are in three completely different orgs so the needs are completely different.
There's some needs that are very early in the morning, there's some that full-on hit like between the hours of like noon to five, and there's others where, you know, there's late night requests that are coming in that essentially become morning tasks as well.
I had, it took me a while, but I had to get into a rhythm of studying a routine again at home.
The kids weren't on board with it because they knew that they didn't have a school to go to, so they were like, well we can wake up until like 8 25.
That doesn't work for me. I'm ready and kicking away since 5 30 a.m.
every single day, so I had to really push myself and the kids and the kids stuck with the 8 p.m.
bedtime. I gave it a little bit of flexibility after three weeks of 8 15, but I put them on a routine and then I put myself on a routine where I would not look at my laptop before the hours of 7 30, and I would not look at it after like 5 15, like 5 30, depending on how hectic my day was.
I can honestly say though, in addition to that, that having three executives that are extremely supportive and understanding of COVID, you know, and how it's affected my house life because I have three kids that I'm basically teaching, has gone a long way.
Joe and Janet both have three children of their own, so we've come to an understanding and it's been definitely an interesting story time every week when we share stories of, well, what did your three kids do this last week during schoolwork?
You know, and exchanging, you know, the little like horror parent stories of like kids having meltdowns, of like them not wanting to do this, but they understand it and I think that is what's, that has helped extremely my relationship with them in regards to them knowing that I will always get my work done, my work done no matter what time of the day it is or no matter how urgent it is, I will always get to it right then and there, but also being able to give me that balance of saying, you know, you have the kids, like take whatever time you need.
I can say that they've, I tried to encourage me to take PTO, I don't know how many times, I've lost track of it.
It's like on a weekly basis.
Thank you so much for your answer and your transparency of how you can balance three kids and three executives.
I only have one, so I can't even imagine and Rachel, so you were supporting both the co-founders when COVID -19 happened and I'm sure things have to shift in your work life and your, the balance of, you know, supporting executives virtually and I just wanted to hear more about your experience and, you know, is there a turnoff time for you and how have you been supporting and how you've been handling it all?
I think that at the beginning when COVID first started that it was kind of like, okay, well we're not going to be at work for two weeks and this is going to be okay and everything's going to be fine and so when you first go into it, you know, it kind of felt nice to not have a commute and different things like that, but then the longer it went on, the more you had to adjust to this new normal that was going on and it does feel different to, you know, if your executive is late to a meeting and you get a chat from somebody that says, are they showing up, to sit there and be like, I can't run to a conference room right now or I really don't know what they're doing right now and things like that, so I think keeping communication is key.
Luckily, we have things like chat, we have texts, we have email, all those things to help us keep in contact and I think doing the video conferences with different people that we work with on a day-to-day is important too because losing that human interaction, I know for me, you know, I don't have the challenge of three children at home or even any children at home, I just have a dog and my husband's going to work every single day, so I'm spending the days pretty much without human contact and also going through a remodel, which makes me a lot of times start my conversations with apologies if you hear drilling right now, but I think for me that the best thing that I did for myself was I started to create a routine and so once I figured out, okay, this isn't going away, I went and I got my monitor, I went and got my, speaking of the dog, I went and got my monitor and I went and got my mouse, my keyboard and my chair and I set up an office within my house to have a space to work and then also just, you know, I would get up at 6 30 in the morning like I used to when I commuted and just got up, had my coffee, did a workout, get on email early, I forced myself to, you know, get out of the house once a day to walk the dog for lunchtime and I do kind of force myself to a little bit have a logout time in a sense of around 5 30, I try to be done with being in front of my computer at my desk and of course, you know, just out of habit and because of who I support, I monitor my email throughout the rest of the night, but I do find that I need definitely more breaks than I used to.
I forget about how the fact that riding a train for an hour in the morning actually is your downtime and your time to think and kind of wake up and then also at the evening it's your time to decompress and I was somebody who always set boundaries as far as I never worked on the I am a huge reader and so that was my time to read my book and kind of like be collected so when I got home and had turned the wife hat on and do the house stuff like I was ready to go.
So I think routine during this time is huge and then also just, you know, making sure that you're staying in contact whether video conferences or communicating with the people that you work with and who you support is super important and then as far as hiring for the role, it did lead to such a different experience because you I've never had somebody come work especially so closely with me and never met them before.
So it's not the same but I will say things like Zoom and video conferencing does help get that kind of face-to-face interaction and you still get to see how quickly somebody responds or how they think on their feet and stuff like that.
So it is helpful but it is very different to hire somebody that you know is going to be kind of your counterpart and never have met them.
Yeah, you know, I've had a hard time drawing those boundaries and then also like it's just so amazing to see how quickly recruiting switched the switch on making every interview virtual, all our onboardings virtual.
We've had a huge help from our HR and our IT teams and we wouldn't be able to do it without them or without you guys either and I know it's been a huge adjustment for everybody and so it's just really awesome to see how well we've come together with it.
Moving on to the next question, I would really just want to understand you know what is part of your job that you do today that most people might not know that you're involved in or that you're doing?
Jeanette, what are your thoughts on that? So we're involved in everything, I'm just kidding.
We're involved in a good amount of things and I think it depends on the org that the executive assistant is supporting or providing internal support to on some of the projects and some of the things that we're involved on that people don't know but I think my biggest one is going to be Cloudflare TV.
A lot of people don't know that the executive assistants are actually part of that little group.
We help facilitate the live questions, we actually coordinate with the presenters, there's a lot of cross-functional communication that goes on and with the presenters in addition to us you know and any time that something new gets rolled out with Cloudflare TV, we're kind of the first ones to know in addition to the rest of the employees that had helped on board all of this when we first kicked it off.
It's been a very exciting thing to be a part of.
It's even cooler to say that I'm actually part of a segment even though I didn't want to because I was nervous.
You know it's different when you're on the other side of the screen.
I'm so accustomed to being able to warm people down and tell them you know like let it all out now like let's do some fuzzy warms like warm fuzzies in the air you know to be able to relax them a little bit and you know I get to see everything on the back end.
I think that's been one of the coolest things in addition to staying connected with the rest of our workforce.
Like Rachel said, it's definitely different when you have to meet with somebody like your counterpart and you're like I've never met you in person.
I've met people on my teams on the three different teams that I support that I've never met in person because ever since we've been work from home.
So it's definitely been a great experience to be able to stay connected with the company that way and also it it's a joyous thing to be able to see a new face, be able to get to know who they are, what do they do for the company, what's their role like, what are they presenting on.
You know Cloudflare TV isn't just like an engineer -based platform.
It's entirely for anybody and everyone. I had a fellow peer from one of my teams who actually did an entire segment about the best eating habits for COVID during COVID for work from home.
It was the most awesome segment I've ever seen.
I thought I had it done with DoorDash. She went like had all the resources available and you know and it was great and we got so many questions and I think that is really what makes us being an executive assistant at Cloudflare so sweet because we get to be a part of some of the coolest things that we're rolling out.
Rachel what about you? Yeah what Jeanette said everything with Cloudflare TV has definitely been an adventure for us during COVID and something I think that's really fun for us to work on outside our normal stuff and again as she mentioned it really just depends on what org you are, on what kind of project management you're doing and different things that you're working on.
I think one thing as a whole that people don't really understand is kind of like what the simple things actually how much more complex they are.
For instance you know putting a meeting on a calendar that involves 10 different executive schedules and also just looking at a calendar and then we see this as this like beautiful game of Tetris that we constantly play and if we you know have to move this person here how does that affect this project or if we move this thing from this time to that time you know when's the last time this person has gotten a sync with my executive because those communications especially right now when there's not that human drive-by of a desk thing are so much more important and also looking at the calendar and seeing our bosses as human.
You know a lot of times you get the message that's like well your boss has 30 minutes of space there and it's like yes they do but they also have four hours of meetings before and they have three hours meetings after so maybe they might need to take a breath take a moment have something to eat use the restroom you know things like that and there's just so much more complexity that comes from the simplest tasks and you can you know associate that with even travel or even expense reports.
We get a pile of receipts and we're just supposed to know what they're for and so it's knowing our bosses knowing how they work understanding what their you know their what their trip was for and yeah we could fill in those blanks but it's just not as simple as I think people kind of list it out to be.
There's just a lot of human side that goes into it and we're always thinking 10 steps ahead we're not just thinking of let's move this meeting to the next day there's a ripple effect that happens and we have to handle all those ripples.
That's awesome Rachel.
I love to hear that about how you look at Matthew or Michelle's when you're supporting both and saying well they've had four back-to-back meetings like they need a break because maybe they might not know that and you're in charge of their schedule and just the whole Tetris part of it all and Jeanette I think it's so amazing that you're part of Cloudflare TV and I think a lot of people don't know that the admin student I I certainly did know and so it's really cool to see this all come into play like having this segment with you guys and learning so much more about especially about Cloudflare TV and I don't know if this is like a segue to say to people they have questions about Cloudflare TV to reach out to you but I do think it's awesome that you know the company is more aware that the little projects inside things that you guys do that we might not know about.
Your roles are so interconnected and so important I think those little details are what people tend to forget.
It's definitely something recruiting can relate to as well and you know recruiters and coordinators are right there with you.
We would love to also know with all the difficult tasks that you tackle on a day -to-day what is the best way to support you and make your lives easier?
What is your preferred way of communication?
What are some big no-no's that you know that frustrate you and that you know make your job difficult?
How can people work better with you and partner with you?
How about you, Rachel? I think the biggest thing to know about EAs is we love details like so much.
You're never going to bore us with details so if you're sending a request over we want to know what's the time frame, what's the have to have by date, how long the meeting has to be, who else needs to be in the meeting, and what the context is behind the meeting.
Just because that just helps us be able to prioritize it we always want to make sure that we're not giving you times that aren't within the time frames that you need them.
So it just helps to not waste back and forth like I'm somebody who loves efficiency.
If I can make things more efficient the better it is. So tell me right away I'll send you one email back confirmation done calendar invite sent.
So for me it's just more details than you even think I need or necessary.
I don't mind reading like I said I love to read so send them all over to me.
I always prefer email.
I don't love chat. I don't love text. I didn't even really love drive-bys at the office mainly because there's so much going on that I could sit there and say like yeah I'll get that on the calendar and then you walk away and something else happens and I might have forgotten that conversation for a second.
So I prefer email.
It's my checklist. If I file it if it's deleted that means it's done off my head and as far as chats go a lot of the times I just sometimes will miss a chat and so then people are following up and then wondering why you're not as responsive and it's just because maybe I picked up my phone and it recognized my face and it deleted the chat and I didn't even realize you sent it.
So unless it's super urgent where it's something needed within an hour I prefer email always number one communication.
I think biggest pet peeve is probably if you don't hear the answer you don't want to hear and then you copy my boss expecting a different answer that's a little frustrating.
I prefer just the open communication of like hey I hear you but I really need this by this date and to work it out with me because I guarantee you nine times out of ten Matthew's gonna write back work with Rachel for the calendar because that is I own the calendar and he knows that there's a lot of different things that I'm working on that he doesn't even know that I'm working on.
That's my job so it's always going to default to what I put on the calendar.
Jeanette how about you? I could not agree more.
I agree 100% with everything Rachel said. My biggest no-no and it always just it never fails to make me laugh not in a bad way it just I'm always like oh when will they learn is when somebody sends me a request over chat for a meeting that needs to happen within 30 minutes and there's no context it literally says I need this meeting with Joe or Janet.
Okay thanks bye. That's it no context like no nothing I've never met this person before it can be somebody that's been at the company for years like I have to go look them up on pain board which is our internal platform for our employees for our workforce and it's just the more that I ask them questions they're like well they know what it's about it's like I don't know what it's about I own the calendar can you please elaborate?
That's a big no-no don't do that.
It just causes more work for both of us and in the end you won't get that meeting within 30 minutes.
Email is always absolutely going to be our number one favorite it is the most requested and most preferred.
I understand sometimes last minute things you know meetings that are all hands on deck like this has to happen now I totally get that like you can send me that over chat and it's usually from people that I already work with very closely for Nitin for Joe or for Janet and so I understand the need for that you know anytime that I have a finance team member reach out to me for meetings you know most of the time they're for Nitin I already know it's urgent like it has to happen within the next hour so I drop everything for that but when you give me that okay thanks bye with no context no it's not gonna work out.
That's when you say okay thanks bye and return but it's like okay thanks bye like you're gonna do it I'm like I don't know what I'm doing you know and it goes back to what Rachel said is we own the calendars going through our executives is not going to get you the result that you want guaranteed at the end of the day they will always cc us and tell us can you please work with Rachel, Janet or my admin and make sure that you get it on the calendar.
My other favorite one is when they don't put the urgency on there or they say that it's urgent when it's really not urgent and it does not even belong to my executive it belongs to somebody else in their department but they would like my executive to attend but they don't say that they list them as a required one and so you go through all this work already to get the calendar invite on there and you have the context you have the details just for the last minute it's oh they don't even need to be on there thanks that's when you get the okay thanks bye.
Yes Rachel as such I know for sure I should be wearing the cone of shame right now because I'm pretty sure I've done a couple of your no-nos so it's very good for the company to hear what it is I definitely know about the urgent for me something's very urgent with a candidate who might have an offer but for you it might be different so thank you for letting us know the no-nos and hopefully people will take this in and and realize what the proper way and one of the main things I've learned from this is to over communicate with you guys so we've only got a few minutes left I just want to time check us here so let's get one question in real quick it's the best question okay this is a probably a it's an awesome question what is your favorite part of your job the people or Jeanette sorry no the people and that goes from the interns to our amazing recruiters to my fellow admins to the executives that I support to our leadership team to the porters who help maintain and upkeep our offices like Cloudflare is an amazing place to work at and the reason I cannot envision seeing myself anywhere else one was in part to you Jenae second goes to Rachel since she was my hiring manager to get me on boarded but when I came to Cloudflare it just it blew my mind away at how much transparency how much inclusion and how much openness there is you know nobody's there is no egotistical culture there it's all about you know how are you doing you know people that you've never even met just greet you with the biggest smile on their face and that's something I definitely miss from the office is I can honestly say if I had an opportunity to put myself back on board do the one and a half hour commute and go into the office it would make my day just to be able to walk into the office and the amount of smiles you get and it's like hey how are you like how are you doing today how was your ride in you know it's for me it's the absolute people I love the teams that I get to work with everything about Cloudflare it's it's the place to be yeah I mean unfortunately and fortunately I have to agree with Jeanette so I'm not going to say much different but for me it's definitely the people you know I sit there and I talk to people and they're like well isn't it so exciting you get to work from home now and you know all those things and I'm like you know there's some things that are more convenient obviously I'm not going to lie about that but at the end of the day no I miss going into our office I miss the people that we get to work with every day and as Jeanette said from the porters to the leadership everybody in between even our board of directors Matthew and Michelle have done and our leadership has done a really great job with the people that we have on our board they're kind they're human they are the nicest board I've ever worked with and I just think it says a lot about Cloudflare and what we stand for and that we are you know we're true to our mission we want to make the Internet a better place and we also want to do good things and so we hire good intelligent people we hire people that I get to learn from every single week at that I get everyone