I studied GCSEs in English, Art, and History at Collyer’s from 1983-1984. I can remember the college being a fashion parade for the first month. Art was my favourite subject and my Art teacher really guided and supported me and it gave me a lot of inspiration. I enjoyed the interactions with a lot of different students from contrasting schools and I felt very grown up. We were treated as adults by the teachers which was a refreshing change and Collyer’s taught me a lot about being self-starting and putting the effort in if I wanted to get the results. I appreciated being here as it was a highly regarded and established educational environment and even now when I say I went to Collyer’s it receives a positive reaction. I left with passes in English and Art.
After leaving Collyer’s I went to secretarial school. All I wanted to do was Art when I left Collyer’s, however my English teacher encouraged me to go to the Crawley college, which had an annexe in Horsham. Here I amazingly found I could do other things, like typing and shorthand. My first job was at Rawlison & Butler solicitors in the Carfax, and I have jumped from full time legal jobs to chartered accountants, back to legal, then to recruitment and then back to legal. Every job I have gone for I have got apart from one, which was then offered to me 3 months later which I declined as I was working. I am proud of the fact that every job I have gone for I have got and so my decision to pursue a career as a secretary has kept me in work for the last 37 years.
Over the years I have been a volunteer litter picker for Horsham park, a voluntary dog walker and have raised funds for different charities including Horsham matters and St Catherine’s Hospice, in memory of my dad.
My day is varied and busy working in a team, supporting 8 including Partners of the firm, with varied duties which include overseeing emails, typing letters and documents, answering the main phone, liaising with clients over phone, email or in person and making bookings. I have worked in my current full-time role for 17 years as well as bringing up my daughter on my own.
I love my job as it is always changing as the legal world changes which is great, as I get bored easily. I enjoy helping others get the job done in the most cost and time efficient way. I also enjoy the “job tasking” area of my job as the office world has changed a lot in the past 2.5 years, in a positive way. I have learnt a lot more IT and platform skills which I really enjoy. We started working on a new in-house system in 2020 and I have enjoyed seeing what it can do and inputting the many areas of information into it to build up our matters.
To fulfil my role you need good organisational, problem and people skills, be proficient in IT and have knowledge of the law. A strong work ethic and being proactive are key also.
Looking back I would say to myself do not stress about everything. When I was younger, I did not have a lot of self-esteem or confidence and used to agonise over what people thought of me. I am originally from Birmingham so felt very different from people here in the South. As I have aged and received some knocks along the way it has made me more resilient in both my personal and working life. My much-loved dad died when he was 64 years old, I was only 31, so I use that as a yardstick to whatever situation I am in as it is never as bad as that.
What next Michelle? Keeping my mind open to all future opportunities! I would like to increase my interactions with people in my personal life and try “new” experiences. I am a “young” 55 years old and the only one who roller skates in my firm. I would like to travel, money permitting, and work more with dogs as a side hustle. As I mentioned before I get bored easily, so I am always seeking out new opportunities for things to do.