monica martin leader assistant podcast

Monica Martin is a longtime assistant in the aerospace engineering industry.

In this episode, Monica talks about being confident in advocating for yourself, pivoting when priorities change, and being honest with yourself if you find yourself in a role that’s not quite for you.


Great leaders find ways to connect with their people and help them fulfill their potential.
– Steven J. Stowell


leader assistant podcast monica martin


Monica Martin is an Executive Administrator with Systems Planning and Analysis (SPA). She has 36 years of administrative experience, focused in the aerospace engineering industry. She recently completed her Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from Columbia Southern University in Orange Beach, Alabama.

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Monica Martin 0:00
Hi, I’m Monica Martin, and today’s leadership quote is from Steven J Stowell. Great leaders find ways to connect with their people and help them fulfill their potential

Podcast Intro 0:18
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants

Jeremy Burrows 0:33
are you tasked with ordering food for your office? Let me tell you about ezCater with over 100,000 restaurants to choose from nationwide and 24/7 customer support. EzCater helps assistants like you and me succeed at work and makes our lives easier. Visit to find out more. Hey friends, thanks for tuning into The Leader Assistant Podcast. It’s your host Jeremy Burrows. And I’m very excited to be sharing episode 228 You can check out the show notes for this episode at And today I’m speaking with Monica Martin. Monica is a longtime assistant in the aerospace engineering industry. And I’m very excited to meet you and chat with you Monica, welcome to the show.

Monica Martin 1:30
Thank you, Jeremy, I appreciate you taking the time to interview me or talk to me this evening.

Jeremy Burrows 1:39
Awesome. And what part of the world are you in?

Monica Martin 1:41
I am currently living in Long Beach, California. But I am born and raised in San Francisco.

Jeremy Burrows 1:48
Okay, nice. Nice. And tell us a little bit about you personally. Do you have kids? Dogs, hobbies all the above?

Monica Martin 1:56
I do I have three adult sons Cameron is 27. Austin is 31. Sydney is 33 and I have a beautiful grandson named Nico was 11 months.

Jeremy Burrows 2:10
Wow. That’s amazing. No pets. No pets. Yeah, I’m on the same no pet train. Two boys are enough. And you know, it’s a handful enough?

Monica Martin 2:21
Yes, it is. Boys are handful.

Jeremy Burrows 2:24
Awesome. What’s your favorite thing to do? When you’re not taking care of your boys or grandkid? Or working?

Monica Martin 2:31
I like to go to concerts. I like to travel a little bit. I tend to do things camps for the moment. This year have had a lot of concerts that I’ve gone to so I’ve been busy. Actually have one tomorrow. So yeah, and I tend to be a homebody. Go figure.

Jeremy Burrows 2:55
So stay at home or go to a concert, right?

Monica Martin 2:58
Yes, yes. Those are my favorite things to do. Yes.

Jeremy Burrows 3:01
What’s What’s one of your favorite concerts of all time?

Monica Martin 3:06
Janet Jackson.

Jeremy Burrows 3:08
Oh, nice.

Monica Martin 3:09
That was my favorite. If I have to consider all the ones I’ve gone to. That was my favorite. I like jazz concerts. I do. I liked a lot of jazz concerts.

Jeremy Burrows 3:20
Okay. Cool. We got some, we got some good jazz in Kansas City. So come, come visit some time. And we’ll go down to 18th and Vine and see a jazz show.

Monica Martin 3:32
Okay, I’ll take you up on that offer.

Jeremy Burrows 3:37
All right, well, let’s jump into your professional career. So you’ve been in assistive for quite a while. Take us back to maybe how you got into this role. And you know, what, what hooked you

Monica Martin 3:53
it’s interesting. I when I was younger, when I was in high school, I wanted to be an engineer. But my math wasn’t very. It wasn’t good. And my counselor suggested I’m not going into that industry. But I left home at 17. And I moved here on my own. And at one point, I started working at Rockwell International in Downey, California, was 20 years old. And that was the beginning of the aerospace engineering environment for me. And so from that point, I’ve just continuously worked in that. In that environment. I worked Rockwell Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, different locations, JPL in Pasadena, California. Now I’m currently Aerospace Corporation. Now I’m working for the Los Angeles Air Force Base, Space Force, which is a different environment. It’s definitely different working with the Air Force. So Okay, so I’m just, that’s where I landed. That’s where it’s stuck. I’ve tried venturing out a little bit I did a little bit in the entertainment industry. I’ve worked for Federal Bureau of Prisons for a little bit, but I serve. But Aerospace is where it’s stuck. Wow.

Jeremy Burrows 5:22
So did you have a, you know, personal passion for space? Or rockets or anything like that? Or did it just happen? You just happen to get into that industry at the beginning, and it was hard to get out?

Monica Martin 5:38
It grew on me, I think, I think because I wanted to be an engineer, I think that played a big part in I think that really contributed to me staying in the industry. And I’ve worked on some amazing projects, amazing departments. And just, I didn’t try to look at anything else. I just, that was where my heart was in the aerospace industry. Nice.

Jeremy Burrows 6:10
Did you get to experience any like, you know, live rocket launchers or anything, anything fun like that? Any fun perks? All industry?

Monica Martin 6:23
Amazingly, only one. And that was that was at Vandenberg, which I think, is a beautiful location. I just, maybe it’s because the person that I connected with, they showed me around and he showed me everything. And I think it’s a great location and his by the water, and I like being by the water. But that was the only opportunity that I had to see a launch. When I worked for Rockwell in Downey. They had, like a mock shuttle there in the bay. And sometimes we had the astronauts come through for visits, but that’s about the most exciting thing I’ve had. Yeah, or I’ve participated in. Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 7:10
Awesome. Well, so let’s talk about your role in as an assistant. Your title is Executive Administrator. Is that right?

Monica Martin 7:20
Yes. But I would say it’s an executive assistant. Yeah. Yeah.

Jeremy Burrows 7:25
I was gonna ask you, did you have? You know, I see administrative specialist, senior administrative secretary, Senior Executive Administrator. So it sounds like you’ve had a lot of different titles. So what do you what’s your opinion on? The title of assistance?

Monica Martin 7:49
I don’t think they weigh in to what you do. I don’t think they really it’s not a big deal to me. I don’t know, a big deal. It doesn’t dictate what you do how you do it. It may provide a little insight, okay. She’s a senior executive administrator, which is what I was at one point, and I stepped down. And the possibilities in that role were definitely more detail. More involved. It was a bit more higher level person. But the title, it’s not a big thing to me.

Jeremy Burrows 8:34
Yeah, same here, I, you know, I kind of like, I don’t care what you call me, as long as you treat me with respect, and I liked the work I’m doing and I’m paid. Well, that’s, that’s what I care about.

Monica Martin 8:45
Exactly. I agree. Exactly.

Jeremy Burrows 8:49
Cool. So, you know, let’s talk a little bit about priorities changing and, you know, having to adapt and pivot. When your priorities change, what’s kind of your experience or advice to those who are in those situations where something changes, and they have to pivot and maybe they’re, they’re having a challenge, challenging time doing that?

Monica Martin 9:20
It can be it can be frustrating when you think that you have to maybe adjust or pivot in your role. I know that for me, I was at a senior level. And I’ve always wanted to get to that level. And then when I got to that level, and I saw what it was and the experience and such. I felt like it wasn’t really what I want and it is interesting, because as long as as long as I can remember I wanted that I wanted to get to that level. I thought that was it. I thought that was the top of the ladder. And I got there, or to where I thought I was there. And I said, Okay, this is not quite what I want. And so it’s deciding it sitting in that and sitting down with yourself and saying, okay, am I, okay to pivot to something else? Or change to something else? Or change my role? What else do I want to do? You have to ask yourself, what else do I want to do? Is there some to do. And that was something I had, that I had to do. And to some degree, I felt, initially, I felt like I was a failure in that, because I will say, Okay, I realized that this is not for me. And I stopped, I had to just sit in for a little bit, and then I was okay. And I said, it’s okay to step down, or to change your lanes a little bit. And keep going. And so I stepped down one level. And I like what I do, where I’m at, it’s, it’s doing the things that I like to do. But it’s also opening the door for me to learn other things. It’s, it’s allowing me to learn things like HR, and acquisitions, and things of that nature. And then to have a VP that tells you, if you are interested in learning about anything else, by all means, go for it. And they’re encouraging you, that’s always a plus. And so it’s okay to pivot. And for me, it, it was being able to take back my time. Because the higher the level, the more demanding it can be. And it was allowing me to take back my time, a little bit more self care, mental health, which I am big on. And, and so I’m happy where I am now. And so if you feel like it’s something you want to do, but you’re beating yourself up, and thinking that you’re a failure, because maybe you’ve gotten to a point, you’ve gotten somewhere you thought you want to be, and you realize, no, this isn’t quite what I want to do. It’s okay. It’s okay, step down, it’s okay to step left or right. And change up and pivot.

Jeremy Burrows 12:32
Well, yeah, well said, I mean, that that’s going to be very hard for a lot of people to do. Because they, like you said, you feel like a failure, like, well, I, I’m basically demoting myself. And that feels like a failure. But not everyone was meant to have these certain titles or these certain levels. And not everyone wants to give their whole life to work. And it’s so it’s, you know, props to you for being aware of that and realizing, hey, you know what, this is not, I made it, and I gave it a give it the old college try. But I, you know, I think I don’t want to do this anymore, you know,

Monica Martin 13:19
and I feel much better. I’ve had, I’ve had people that I know, that I work with, say, your whole demeanor has changed. I’m okay with that. And it gives me time to, it allows me to spend time with my grandson and to do other things and not be confined to my desk so much. Yeah. Great.

Jeremy Burrows 13:46
So let’s also talk about confidence for a little bit, and, you know, advocating for yourself. And that could be you know, advocating for that promotion originally or, you know, trying to say, Hey, I’m ready for the senior role. I want to do this. But it also could be advocating for yourself when it comes to salary or, you know, a seat at the table. Or it could even be saying, Hey, listen, I got in this role, like you said, and it’s not for me, I’m gonna go back to where I was. And, you know, and move on. And this is kind of what I want to do. So what what tips do you have and how have you in your career, cultivated that confidence and figured out how to advocate for yourself and be confident in that.

Monica Martin 14:42
One thing I will say is in listening to many of pretty much all the podcasts that you’ve had, and there have been some that were just very much on point in regards to the topics they discussed when it came to Being confident, and, and so on. And initially, I had a hard time with that because I was at a point where I was not confident. And so when I would hear the others that you’ve interviewed say that I was not there, I didn’t know how to be confident my self esteem was kind of kind of crappy. Yeah, it was kind of low at some point. And it took me a while, before I was able to get to the point where I felt confident in it speaking up in advocating for myself and feeling like I had a seat at the table, if I would go into a meeting, I would always sit to the side, I would never sit at the table. Now I sit at the table. I don’t sit at the head of the table, I sit on this, but I sit at the table. I don’t sit on the side. Like I used to learning how to negotiate salary, that was another thing. And I know that you, that’s something that you definitely covered. And I didn’t know how to do it. I was scared to do it. But now I advocate and I’ve had someone give me an offer. And I say no, you know, I’m nervous. But I say No, that’s no, you know. And so I’ve learned to do that and negotiate better. And amazingly, with the position that I’m in now, when I took the step down, I thought that my salary will go down, it actually went up. And so yeah. And so that’s, that’s another way of being confident and advocating for yourself. Being able to communicate what your needs are with whomever it is you support, being able to sit down and communicate that and not. Second, guess yourself on that, that’s being confident and advocating for yourself and going after what it is that you want. And it’s okay. Like I said, it’s okay, if you want to change lanes, if you get somewhere and you decide that’s not for you, or it’s not a good fit for you, it’s okay to say this is not for me, and shift. It’s okay to do that. And that’s, that’s being confident that’s advocating for yourself. Those are the things I think it’s hard. It’s hard, because it I’m sorry, it’s it is it’s hard doing it and there are I still I’m still learning. I am I’m still learning to be confident. And and learning to advocate for myself when I need to. I do.

Jeremy Burrows 17:48
Awesome. So you were with a team of assistants? Or have you worked with a team of assistants in your career? Or have you mostly been kind of on your own? With your executives executive?

Monica Martin 18:02
It’s interesting I have I’ve been most of the time I’ve worked on my own. I was a one man show. And so honestly, when I went to, there was one employee, I went to the Aerospace Corporation that required me to work with a team, I was the lead. I was supposed to be the lead. And that was that was a bit of a challenge. I’m not going to I’m not gonna sugarcoat that part. It was a bit of a challenge. And it was a learning curve for me. Did I succeed at it? I’m not sure. But it’s, there’s a lesson there. And I always try to go back and think about lessons learned. And so I think it helps me now and going forward. And I do see the change. And it but I’ve always worked by myself. And so in some areas it was it was hard to learn to work with a team because I was used to driving on my own. And I had to learn. You have to you have to learn how to be part of a team. And that was a lesson. That was one lesson I needed to learn.

Jeremy Burrows 19:21
Yeah, it’s a you know, I’m an I’m an introvert. I work from home. I like sitting in a dark room getting my work done. Nobody bugging me. So yeah. You can relate.

Monica Martin 19:36
You sound like me. When Nobody’s in the office. I turn off the lights. I keep the lights counted down. Yeah, that’s me. That is me.

Jeremy Burrows 19:48
Yeah, that’s awesome. Oh, you know, it’s just like, Okay, you’re right. You have to you have to learn your people skills and you have to learn how to be a team A good teammate. And it’s good way to be stretched as a as an introvert.

Monica Martin 20:07
It is, it is very much that. And there’s there have been instances where I’ve had to be in large scale meetings, gatherings, whatever it is situations, and I have to be on. And that’s what I call it. I have to be on the whole time. But when it’s done, and you’re looking for me, I’m in the closet somewhere trying to reset because it is it’s a lot. And I enjoy doing it. But I need to decompress. Yeah,

Jeremy Burrows 20:43
definitely. Yeah. That’s the Monica. Well, what’s kind of the last last thing you want to say to listeners? You’ve listened to the podcast before you have a an impressive career in a fun industry? And, you know, what’s kind of the final words you want to leave? Maybe it’s a tip or some inspiration? Or, you know, thoughts on, you know, what assistants can do? Or can who they can be going forward? What would you like to say to assistants of the world,

Monica Martin 21:21
I’m gonna say this pardon. It’s not just just, let’s say, well, seasoned admins like me. But it’s everyone, but I am kind of talking to the season once. Because sometimes we get in our roles and we get, we get comfortable. And maybe we want to, we want to venture out and do something else. But we think maybe, you know, it’s kind of over, it’s done. I’m at this point in my life, I can’t do that I can’t make that move. I used to think that way. If there’s something you want to do, do it, don’t, don’t be afraid to make the jump, I made the jump, I left one place after 18 years, make the job, you know, it’ll be okay. Make sure you keep your skills current, be open to learning new things. And keep going always sit at the table, don’t sit at the site, you know, we’re important and we contribute a lot to the places that we work, where we’re at the departments that division or whatever we contribute. And so don’t feel like you you’re not part of the team sit at the table, you have a place. Don’t be afraid to sit at the table. Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and advocate for yourself and make sure you have someone who is on your side that advocates for you. Because that that can be helpful if you have a mentor, or you’re supporting someone who will get behind you and support you, and advocate and encourage you to do things and learn new things and get out there and push you out of your comfort zone. Be authentic, all of those things.

Jeremy Burrows 23:23
Well said great, great wisdom. Thank you, Monica. It’s been great to chat with you. Thanks for sharing your insight and a little bit of your story with the world. I’ll put your LinkedIn URL in the show notes. If people want to reach out and say hi. And yeah, I appreciate you taking time out of your day. Thanks for listening to the show. And thanks for being on the show.

Monica Martin 23:47
Thank you very much Jeremy appreciate it.

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