A view from Karen Blackett

Karen Blackett reveals her secret work weapon

MediaCom's chairwoman introduces her executive assistant, part mind-reader, part machine.

As chairwoman of MediaCom, I have a leadership role to play in keeping a market leading company ahead of its competitors. As a voice in the quest for diversity, I find myself advising other companies and institutions (including the civil service and No10) on this issue. And, as a single mum, I have to meet the KPIs set by my wonderful son, Isaac.

I don’t care whether you call it "work/life balance", "work/life blend" or just "juggling"; the fact is, I don’t know how I would cope without my secret work weapon: Darren.

Technically, Darren Andrew is my executive assistant. But he’s a lot more than that. He’s also:

  • A mind-reader. He must be – otherwise, how are all the documents and other resources I need for the day ahead already packed in my bag before I’ve even asked for them?
  • A quality controller. He doesn’t just care about getting everything done (a hard enough task), he shares my passion for doing things well. He goes that extra mile to ensure the work that leaves my office is high quality – even when we’re up against it.
  • A human being. Darren treats everyone with kindness and consideration. He’s a "people person" and that’s vital in our business, where every interaction really matters.
  • A machine. As well as being very human, Darren also manages to display the efficiency of a machine. He shares my OCD tendencies, so everything is always as organised as I need it to be (and that’s very organised!).
  • A tonic. Darren has a wicked sense of humour and makes me laugh on those days when I feel more like crying.

At MediaCom, we take our "People first, better results" philosophy very seriously. At the end of the day, it’s all about people. I’m fortunate to work with loads of brilliant people and I’m very fortunate indeed that I know Darren is there for me.