Office HeroWe love getting the inside scoop. But what we love even more is shining the spotlight on the unsung heroes that work the magic behind the scenes. In this weekly series, we profile Office Managers and Executive Assistants who have a passion for rocking events the same way we do. What can I say, we like hanging with our kind.

Our hope is that over time, we will have honoured countless women, maybe even the odd man, as well as creating a space that encourages thought provoking conversation and maybe even a few laughs too.

We’re proud to introduce this week’s office hero, Phyllis Harber-Murphy.

Name:               Phyllis Harber-Murphy, CAP-OM, MOS
Company:        More Than 9 2 5 Virtual Assistance
Position:           Virtual Assistant / Sole Proprietor

Tell us a little about yourself?
I started my VA business in 2008, planning to take it with me wherever we moved. Moving has been a constant in my life. I had a nomadic childhood and married a computer programmer whose contracts have taken us literally around the globe.

What’s one modern day convenience you can’t live without?
The computer– almost all of my business is conducted on-line and I seldom meet my clients face-to-face. I use it all day, every day to complete my work, research information and communicate with my clients.

Once in the office, what’s a positive thing you do each morning to get your day started off right?
I’m very lucky that I work from home most of the time, so my mornings can start any way I wish. I usually play with my two cats for a little while, fill the bird feeders, and have a cup of coffee before I begin work. It’s very relaxed and relaxing.

What’s going on in your company right now that’s cool?
I recently moved and need to expand my network. I am very busy identifying ways to meet the locals, introducing them to the idea of virtual assistance, and adding local clients to my business. It’s a very exciting time of expansion for me.

Let’s talk about events and get your sage advice:

How many events, and what kind, are you asked to plan each year?
It really depends on my clients, but usually three or four a year. For my clients, I have organized workshops for up to 150 participants, hosted informal meet-and-greet receptions, and arranged business trips for small groups. It just depends on what my clients need. Personally, from September 2012 through June 2013, I headed a committee that organized the monthly chapter meetings for the International Association of Administrative Professionals Vancouver Chapter.

If you could hire any famous band for your gala, who would it be?
Michael Buble, preferably with Jane Monheit – they both have such amazing voices and they’ve dueted before, so there’s a small chance…

If you could hire any speaker for your training session, who would it be?
A half-day or full-day workshop with either James Spellos of Meeting U or Dave Paradi of Think Outside the Slide.

What is your biggest challenge when planning an event? And why?
It’s generally pretty easy to find the right venue, but planning meals for people these days can be a real challenge. There are so many allergies – peanut, gluten, egg – and some of them are deadly, so you have to be extremely diligent to ensure that you don’t accidentally put someone’s life at risk.

How have you overcome that?
If I’m organizing a meeting with food, I always ask about allergies when I send out the invitations. If someone has a serious allergy, they really appreciate the meeting organizer ensuring that they can safely relax and enjoy the event.

What’s the most important thing you’d share with others about planning an event?
Always have a Plan B – especially if you’re using any kind of equipment. If the projector breaks down, have the number of a local A/V supplier who may be able to quickly deliver another one. If the caterer has a problem with delivery, have a couple of menus from local restaurants that you could order from. If the heat goes out in the room, make sure the hotel has another room that could accommodate your workshop.

Is there anything else you want to add?
I love Eventsage’s business model. It just makes so much sense to be able go to one website to set up an event, no matter how large or small. And for a one-person office like mine, this can be an absolute Godsend!

Say hi to Phyliss on Twitter @pharbermurphy and LinkedIn!

Are you interested in joining our list of unsung heroes? Reach out to us on Eventsage and we’ll get in touch within 24 hours. Join the conversation. Join our community.

Kimberly Rohachuk

Kimberly Rohachuk

Over my career I've had the honor of working on some major events, including the World AIDS Conference in Vancouver, G8 Foreign Ministers meeting, and the Vancouver 2010 Olympics bid delegation to Prague. I’ve also worked with a number of corporate clients all over the world delivering hundreds of events for groups ranging from 50 to 1,500 people.

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