Anne Pike – Committee Secretary

I founded My Secret EA in response to a visible need for specialised committee secretarial and governance support for organisations that do not have staff with the skills or bandwidth to properly support the company’s committees. I am an Independent Committee Secretary. I operate out of my own office, and I come to you when needed, which is the Secret: you can keep everyone wondering how it is you operate such effective committees.

Accomplished Executive Assistant with a penchant for Committee Support

I started my career as a secondary HPE teacher having studied health science disciplines such as biology, anatomy, exercise physiology and biomechanics. Since moving on from teaching many moons ago, I’ve focused on supporting senior managers and executive leadership teams in healthcare, medical research and educational organisations.

Over the years, I have noticed that I am most energised and excited to be a part of an organisation when working with its committees. I recognise the critical role committees have in delivering the strategic plan of organisations, and I am particularly drawn to the role of operational committees and working groups. It is very challenging and takes special skills to operate a committee effectively, and few organisations dedicate resources to develop these skills in their staff. All those jokes about meetings being ‘a waste of time’ stem from ineffective meeting management and team leadership, not because meetings are inherently useless devices.

It is devastating to see motivated committee members and Chairs who have volunteered their valuable time to a cause they genuinely care about, being steadily worn down by issues arising due to inadequate administrative and governance support. Things like: low attendance caused by late scheduling or missing calendar invitations; insufficient time to review papers that are circulated last-minute; lack of progress against actions due to inadequate minute-taking; and confusion over the committee’s objectives and priorities because governance documentation is either absent or not easily accessible to members.  These common issues lead committee members and Chairs to feel that their contribution is neither important nor valued, and the committee becomes less and less effective.

I understand the effective team management challenges faced by COOs and Operational Committee Chairs, and I actively seek ways to ensure they are optimally supported, enabling them to make the greatest impact in their professional roles.

Supporting forward-thinking Committee Chairs

I firmly believe that a skilled Chair plus dedicated secretarial support are the two critical factors in determining the success of a committee. And one without the other is not even half as effective: both are needed to achieve any level of effectiveness.

Because of this belief, I only work with Chairs who are both skilled and motivated to lead their committee to achieve the objectives set by the organisation. I will make little impact on the performance of a committee without the commitment of the Chair and their willingness to work with me. But together, we are a force that can absolutely change the trajectory of an under-performing committee and extract the very best from it’s members.

My values and beliefs

  • A skilled Chair is the number one requirement if you want your committee to be successful. The designated Committee Secretary runs a close second, but neither horse will win without the other one racing by it’s side.
  • The Chair and Committee Secretary must respect the members’ time and run meetings as efficiently and productively as possible.
  • Effective meetings are where critical decisions about the organisation’s operations are made.
  • If a person is bored in a meeting that is being run effectively, they are not the right person for that committee.
  • EAs/PAs are rarely trained in the skills required to effectively support a committee: minute-taking, policy and procedure management, committee governance and law.