Mariah Grace Kerby is an experienced assistant who has been in the space for 10 years. She currently supports the Senior Assistant to the Executive Director of Platform Engineering at Ramsey Solutions.
In this episode of The Leader Assistant Podcast, Mariah talks about seeing the assistant role as a viable career, discovering and using your gifts to support your executive, and nurturing a community of growth for an assistant team.
Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, in the way you live, in your love, your faith and your purity.
– 1 Timothy 4:12
CONNECT WITH MARIAH
Mariah Kerby is an experienced assistant who has been in the space for 10 years. She currently serves a Software Engineering Executive but also has experience assisting in the medical, arts, legal, real estate and finance fields. She is passionate about helping fellow assistants embrace their role as a career while owning their growth and creating a well rounded skill set.
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Mariah Kerby 0:00
Hi there, my name is Mariah Kirby and today’s quote comes from First Timothy 412 In the Bible, don’t let anyone think less of you because you’re young. Be an example to all believers in what you teach, and the way you live in your love your faith and your purity.
Podcast Intro 0:20
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants.
Jeremy Burrows 0:34
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Mariah Kerby 1:38
Good. How are you Jeremy?
Jeremy Burrows 1:40
I’m doing well. Thanks for asking and what part of the world are you in?
Mariah Kerby 1:44
So I am right outside of Nashville in city Franklin, Tennessee.
Jeremy Burrows 1:49
Love it. Love it. And do you all have some good barbecue out there?
Mariah Kerby 1:53
We do. It’s different from where I’m from. I’m from North Carolina. So our barbecue is a little bit different. But yes, it’s still good out here too.
Jeremy Burrows 2:01
Nice. So yeah, Cary, North Carolina. What’s that like mustard based sauce?
Mariah Kerby 2:06
Vinegar base actually
Jeremy Burrows 2:06
Vinegar base. Okay. I always think I always there’s one place in St. Louis. That was like Carolina mustard is what they call it. So I always tie those together for some reason. But what’s what’s the Tennessee barbecue difference from North Carolina.
Mariah Kerby 2:20
Honestly, I think it’s more of like a sweet taste. It’s like less of a vinegar like acidic taste to it. So I grew up eating a lot of like barbecue chicken and stuff like that, too. So all of the different all the different sauces and stuff like that.
Jeremy Burrows 2:35
Nice. Well, being in Kansas City Barbecue is a big deal for us too. And I should probably be better at barbecue education and knowing the difference between Texas barbecue Memphis barbecue, North Carolina barbecue Kansas City Barbecue, that maybe I’ll do that. Someday. I just enjoy eating it.
Mariah Kerby 2:53
That’s all that matters.
Jeremy Burrows 2:55
So tell us a little bit about yourself. Do you have kids, pets, hobbies? All the above?
Mariah Kerby 3:03
Absolutely. So no kids, but I have a dog named Ginger. My husband and I have lived in Nashville area for going on for years. We love to spend our times I’ve came to Nashville as a musician, like many, many people. So I like to write music and do that in my free time. And also swing dance. So I teach swing dancing, and my husband and I love to go dancing whenever we can.
Jeremy Burrows 3:30
That’s awesome. It very sounds very, very Tennessee. So you’re definitely Yeah. Love it. So how did you tell us about your assistant career? You’re currently Senior Assistant to the executive director of platform engineering at Ramsey solutions. How did you end up being an assistant? And yeah, tell us a little bit about your journey.
Mariah Kerby 3:55
Yeah, so I actually just celebrated last year 10 years of being in an assistant admin role. I actually started when I was 16. My first job was working as an office assistant to my mom, for a chiropractor office, she got hired to basically run an office after the lady who had, who was her predecessor had ran it for 30 years. So whenever she came in, she needed some help with like updating and filing and organizing and stuff like that. So she brought me in during the summers to come in and file and organize and help take in clients and schedule. And so I learned kind of at a young age on those little basics, and kind of get started that way and then did that all throughout my high school years. After that. I had went to college and during that time I worked as an assistant to I would say like an entrepreneur. She had two different businesses. One was consulting for arts so she did Social media marketing, all kinds of stuff like that graphic design, and also had a hired waitstaff company. So I worked with her part time while I was going to school full time and then worked in the arts, as well. My background, like I said, was music. So I worked with our local, like our community and University Art Center, and worked in that for a while. And then when I graduated, I was trying to save up money to move out to Nashville. And I said, I knew I knew the skill sets and enjoyed doing that. So worked for a financial advisor for a little bit and was his right hand. Woman, it was just the two of us in the office. So that’s it, it was a much smaller company, I got to learn a lot from him learn how to do I feel like that was probably my first big role of being able to what know what it means to be have like have a partnership with someone and be able to help them out with the day to day and also be able to speak into the business and what’s what was going on. And then from there, I worked as a legal assistant, and did that with a firm that had entertainment law. And then also had a partner that did real estate law and had a title company. So I had like a dual role between legal assistant and transaction coordinator. So few different three different backgrounds that I had to kind of learn while doing that. And then that leads me to here. So been at Ramsey for a little over a year and a half, I think next month is is a year and a half officially love it here. I got referred from a friend I grew up listening to Ramsey, and I love it. It’s been amazing. And literally the best place I’ve ever worked. So it’s been awesome.
Jeremy Burrows 6:50
Nice, nice. So let’s talk about using your gifts to support your executive. How do you and how did you figure out what your gifts were throughout your career? And then specifically use those to support your executive?
Mariah Kerby 7:07
Yeah, so as an arts person, I like many, I’m kind of all over the place when it comes to interests. And so on the side, I would learn different things like graphic design, I grew up doing party planning with my mom, as well. And I fell in love with doing all of that kind of stuff. And I always did it on the side. But it actually wasn’t till I came to Ramsey, where in the interview process, my leader, my current leader had asked me he’s like, Well, do you like like, what are you interested in what makes you happy, like you don’t feel stressed at you, like what energizes you? And for me, it was those two things. So I love doing graphic design where I could be creative, but also still have structure. And then also, just being able to put a party on, make people feel loved and accepted, and special. So that’s been really fun to kind of lean into those skills in my current role. I think it’s also just important for whenever you’re looking at your gifts and talents to be able to say, Okay, what brings me joy? What do I really enjoy? And how can I most utilize that because in a lot of cases, what could be your strength might be your leaders weakness, or something that they really enjoy, but don’t have a chance to do because of their role. So I think it’s been, it’s been really fun to kind of see how that’s played out in my current role.
Jeremy Burrows 8:30
That’s awesome. So you get that event manager, chops, and then the graphic design, which both of those things are very needed in? In today’s professional world? For sure.
Mariah Kerby 8:43
For sure. Yes.
Jeremy Burrows 8:44
What’s your what’s Graphic Design wise? What what tools? Are you familiar with? Or do you like to work in? Are you Photoshop? Are you can the Canva, Canvas and figma? What’s the design type of design Do you do?
Mariah Kerby 9:00
Yeah, so I started out in Canva, because that’s what I first started playing around with back in college. So I use that a lot at the office. I’ve also done a little bit with Adobe Suite, the Creative Suite for that. And I’m currently I have some classes that I’m wanting to finish up this year on figma. And learning how all of that works, because I feel like it’ll also help me understand my team more and product design and all of that kind of stuff. So main one is probably Canva and Adobe, and then learning wanting to grow and yet more because it’s just a fun hobby.
Jeremy Burrows 9:33
Cool. Yeah. And then as far as event management, what’s what’s your number one tip for those assistants listening who? That’s part of their job? Managing events, what’s your number one event management event planning tip?
Mariah Kerby 9:48
Oh, man. I’d have to say my number one tip would be to get all of the details as you can to start with and then build off of up, and not, don’t be afraid to speak up if you have questions, or don’t be afraid to be able to think, think outside of the box. So that’s probably more than one. But
Jeremy Burrows 10:12
no, no, that’s great.
Mariah Kerby 10:13
Some of my big ones,
Jeremy Burrows 10:14
alright. You know, it’s like asking clarifying questions, especially early on, will save you a lot of pain down the road when you’re planning the event. So
Mariah Kerby 10:24
communication is key, just like in anything else, especially in events where Oh, I thought you meant this or don’t assume, don’t ever assume. Yeah,
Jeremy Burrows 10:32
yeah. So okay, let’s talk about the kind of the stigma around the executive assistant, administrative assistant, office manager, Assistant, you know, all the different titles, that the administrative professional career, or actually the stigma is kind of seeing this position as not really a career. So what what have you done? Or have you seen in your career that’s changed that, and how you view this role? Versus I know, a lot of people see it as it’s just maybe a temporary stepping stone type of a role. So how have you discovered that it’s more of a career and and how do you help others see it as a career as well?
Mariah Kerby 11:24
I think it’s kind of the, the biggest thing is a mindset shift, to be honest with you, before coming into my role, and really understanding what it is to like how important the role is, like you’re integral to that partnership with your leader, you’re integral to how things are run within your department. Even if I wouldn’t inadvertently say it out loud. That whole phrase, oh, I’m just an assistant, I feel like was a big, a big thing that affected me both internally, but also how others viewed. And that’s kind of, if you’re in an environment where leadership views you as Oh, she’s just the assistant she does the menial tasks, she does all of those kinds of things. It can easily get into your own mindset of thinking, oh, yeah, I’m just an assistant or this is just, this is just temporary till I can find something better. And I feel like it’s really easy to fall into that. But But also, I think it’s a mindset shift for you saying, I’m there is no just, it is I’m an Assistant, I wear many hats, I have a skill set that not everyone can do. I’ve seen that over the years, be able to multitask, be able to do a lot of things that it does take a special skill set and special learnings to be able to understand and control lots of plates up in the air all the time. So I think it’s a mindset shift for sure for the assistant. But it’s I think it’s also a cultural mindset shift for wherever you’re working. Working in an environment where you’re appreciated is a big deal in that regard, too. I feel like leaders, leaders don’t realize and I think you’ve even mentioned this in your in your book as well. Leaders don’t realize the opportunity they have whenever they’re able to partner with an assistant to be able to go two times 3x 5x 10x Faster of having that partnership instead of just saying, hey, take this task, I don’t want to do it. It’s so much more than that. So I feel like I feel like it’s both a internal mindset shift, and an external mindset shift from those around you. So yeah, yeah.
Jeremy Burrows 13:32
Well said, You are part of a team of assistance. Solutions, how many are on the team?
Mariah Kerby 13:39
Oh, wow. So we have grown quite a bit this past year. I know we’re at like 50 plus. So I’d say we’re probably approaching 60 here soon. But 50 Plus assistants, who are amazing and all different levels of being an assistant and this isn’t a world from people, this is their first job being an assistant or first time being an official assistant, they probably have a lot of skills that they’ve brought to the table all the way up to ladies, you have been doing this for years and have been with a company for years. So it’s been fun to kind of see all the different growth tracks and being able to learn from each other in that.
Jeremy Burrows 14:14
Yeah, and how does the structure work? Are these assistants reporting to kind of a an assistant team lead? Or are they reporting to their executives and then there’s maybe a team lead helps kind of like almost like a dotted line setup.
Mariah Kerby 14:31
So the way we have it set up here is every assistant has basically two reporting structures. Of course, their leader, whoever their main, their main, their main support, the people that your main support for is your one litre and then we also have a discipline leader. So she kind of oversees all of the RSA AES Ramsey solutions assistance. So if I refer to that that’s the ACT And then that sees oversees all of the RSA is. And within that group, we have executive assistants that are over each specific department. And those EAS, then lead growth groups and channel, what we call channel groups for all of the assistants that are in that discipline. So for example, my leader falls under Product Engineering, here at Ramsey. And so we have a product engineering channel. So we have one EA, who oversees I think we’re up to eight, seven or eight assistants within our within our area. And then we all were all of us report up to our leader in charge of RSA. Okay, nice.
Jeremy Burrows 15:41
Yeah. So sounds like you guys have a fun group. How do you? And how have you built and nurtured a community of for those assistants, but really a community of growth, encourage each other to develop and learn and grow individually and together as a team? Yeah,
Mariah Kerby 16:03
so I do have to say, I have never in my life been in a group of assistance where everyone is wanting to help and willing to help not where like, you never have this feeling of oh, you don’t understand that there’s never any kind of weird cliques or anything like that. I think a lot of that is attributed to our growth groups. So in at Ramsey, we have a what we call our growth track, which basically is a list of hard skills and soft skills that kind of track, how we’re growing, what we’re growing in what to work on and things like that. And that’s a standard for everybody that’s not based off of who you support that doesn’t that’s not necessarily based off of like the which department you’re in is just overall like how like, How well am I partnering? How well am I hard skills and soft skills. And I feel like that kind of levels, the playing field a little bit to where you’re wanting to help and learn and grow from each other, which has been really cool to see, our whole RSA group meets monthly. And we have basically updates within the company promotions, things like that. But then we also have keynote speakers who will come in whether that be assistance coming in or to talk like as a panel who might be subject matter experts and say, like travel, or calendaring or partnership with their leader who have been with their leaders for years. And then we also have actual leaders come in and talk about different key topics as well. So that’s, that’s another fun way to kind of be able to come together as a group and feel like a cohesive group, and not like we’re on an island trying to learn by ourselves. We also have within our channels, we do Fun, fun and different book studies, which is actually how I learned about you through doing a book study on leader assistant. And we also have those groups to be able to bounce ideas off of each other, or be able to say, hey, so I have this meeting. And I have this problem. And I’m not sure how to approach it, can I get some, like good feedback. And so it’s a space to be able to ask those questions without feeling stupid or feeling like you aren’t, aren’t getting it. So it’s fostering that I, that group. And then also, in general, just having documented resources, to where people aren’t having to ask the same questions. Again, they aren’t having to be able to say like, what was that, again, we talked about it or I missed that meeting. So I have no idea of what that training was, we have a one place to document all of those things, to kind of be a resource hub, to be able to learn on your off time, but also just to not have to keep it all in your brain.
Jeremy Burrows 18:42
Nice. How does the two follow up questions, then? What tool do you all use for the resource? So
Mariah Kerby 18:49
we all of our, all of our company works off of the Microsoft tools. So Microsoft suite, and everything lives in a SharePoint. So we have the RSA SharePoint, that is basically like the source of truth for all things within our company. If there’s anything updated. We have a work group that that’s their job is did update everything. So we’re always in the know, and the first ones to know as much as we can be. To be able to stay on top of that. So yeah. Nice.
Jeremy Burrows 19:18
And then the other question I had was, so when you did the book study, how is that organized? I know a lot of people reach out and I don’t know I’m not sure did you guys have the workbook before you did that? Or would you did you do that before I released the workbook?
Mariah Kerby 19:32
I think we did it before you really start talking to an assistant I was like, oh, there’s a workbook now that’s cool
Jeremy Burrows 19:38
Yeah, well, so I have the workbook out for for those listening, then want to go through the book, the leader, assistant. And the workbook is really helpful. Hold your hand guide to, you know, lead a group of assistance through the book. And that’s at leaderassistant book.com/workbook But I’ve had still had people reach out. How do you recommend we lead this group? Or how do we coordinate? And you know, so based on the book study that you all did, what are some tips on how to go through my book together? That you can share.
Mariah Kerby 20:19
So the way we had split it up is, we split it up by chapter, and we have weekly connects that channel group I was telling you about. So we use that as our book study time, to be able to kind of talk through each chapter. And for each chapter, we had a different assistant that was going to lead the conversation. So of course, we’re all reading it. And all mice here, we’re all reading it. And we’re all going through and like marking and seeing what parts are super valuable to us that we could be working on. But each assistant would be able to kind of go in and lead the conversation. So any of the questions that you had at the end to talk about, we would also ask questions like What is really resonating with you right now? What out of this chapter Do you feel like that you can implement today, or that you want to work on with your leader or ask your leader? And another fun part two, is that we actually got some copies of the book for IT leaders to be able to read through and kind of highlight and say like, Hmm, I’ve never thought about that before. Or, you know what, I actually want to talk about this because I think this would be helpful. And I know not all leaders have time to do it. But we had quite a few, they’re able to actually sit down and discuss those things with their assistant to
Jeremy Burrows 21:34
Nice, that’s a good deal. Well, Mariah, thank you so much for sharing a little bit of your story in a little bit of how your team works and sounds like you’ve got a great admin team assistant team, leader Assistant team.
Mariah Kerby 21:49
Jeremy Burrows 21:51
And excited to meet more of you I know have chatted with me a few times. And yeah, just really appreciate you being on the show. What’s maybe one final word you want to share with with assistants listening
Mariah Kerby 22:07
would say never value value yourself too low. Always know your worth. Know that you are worth being respected. Know that you are worth being viewed as a partner, not as a subservient, we are servants but we aren’t subservient. And to know just to know to lean into your gifts, and it’s okay. To it’s okay to not know everything. That’s the whole part of learning and growing.
Jeremy Burrows 22:37
Love it. Well said Well, what where can people find you and reach out? Is LinkedIn the best spot or?
Mariah Kerby 22:43
Yeah, LinkedIn is great. And or you can email me which I’m happy to give that as well. I love to hear from other assistants and learn what they have learned and then also just chat about all the different things that comes with it, the career wise and everything else. So
Jeremy Burrows 23:01
awesome. Well, I will definitely share your LinkedIn in the show notes at leaderassistant.com/212. For those of you listening that want to reach out to Mariah, and yeah, thanks again. Best of luck and we’ll talk soon. Thank you
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