Hayley Cole provides EA support to the Head of EII EMEA Product Development at BlackRock. She is also the Co-Chair of GAIN EMEA, which is the professional network providing support and advocating for the administrative professionals at BlackRock.

Hayley Cole Leader Assistant Podcast

In this episode, Hayley shares tips on anticipating your executive’s needs, staying productive, the importance of networking with other assistants, and how to cultivate diversity in the workplace.


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Do not ask your team to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.

– Sev Kavajioli

Hayley Cole Leader Assistant Podcast

Hayley Cole provides EA support to the Head of EII EMEA Product Development at BlackRock.

Hayley’s teams are responsible for EMEA BlackRock ETF’s, Indexing and Investments (EII), which includes innovation & research, product launches, commercialisation activities, strategy for key product segments (Smart Beta, Sustainable and Thematic) and the product engineering and launching of new products.

Hayley’s service dates back to 2008 when she was Executive Assistant to the Head of EMEA iShares and provided business support to the Executive Committee. Following this in 2012 Hayley moved on to work with the recently relocated Head of EMEA Capital Markets. Upon returning from maternity leave in 2014 with the support of BlackRock and their flexible working policies Hayley joined the Product Development team.

Prior to joining BlackRock Hayley worked in the Energy M&A team at Credit Suisse’s supporting the Head of Chemicals, Head of Renewable Energy and The Head of Utilities.

Hayley has extensive experience across all the major banks supporting various management teams.

Hayley is the Co-Chair of GAIN EMEA which is the professional network providing support and advocating for the administrative professionals at BlackRock.

Hayley also sit’s on the Inclusion and Diversity Committee for EII EMEA at BlackRock.

Hayley is a Fellow of EPAA (Executive & Personal Assistant Association), and made the We Are The City Rising Star Shortlist in the EA/Category.


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Hayley Cole 0:00
Hi, I’m Hayley Cole. Today’s leadership quote comes from Seth kava Gao Lee. Do not ask your team to do something you are not prepared to do yourself.

Podcast Intro 0:13
The Leader Assistant Podcast exists to encourage and challenge assistants to become confident game changing leader assistants.

And here’s your host, my dad.

Jeremy Burrows 0:27
Hey friends today’s sponsor is life squire. They were founded by a former executive assistant looking to create a healthier relationship between current assistants and their clients. They found their niche and placing assistants in positions where you and your executive can thrive. If you’re an executive assistant, they would love to help you can visit their website at lifesquire.com/leaderAssistant, or call them at 405-889-4430 to find out how they can help you lifesquire.com/leaderassistant. Hey, everyone, thanks for tuning into The Leader Assistant Podcast. I’m excited to be speaking with Hayley Cole. Today. Hayley is an executive assistant at BlackRock. She supports the Head of Product Development. And they work with ETs indexing and investments. Hayley how’s it going?

Hayley Cole 1:23
Good. Thanks for having me on the podcast, Jeremy.

Jeremy Burrows 1:25
Yeah, and what part of the world are you in right now?

Hayley Cole 1:28
So I’m in Hartfordshire. In the UK, locks down?

Jeremy Burrows 1:33
Yes, yes. As as we all are, unfortunately. Can you tell us a little bit about first of all, you’re part of an organization at Blackrock called GAIN. Can you tell us what GAIN stands for and kind of what you’re about and how you’ve advocated for the admin community at BlackRock.

Speaker 1 1:52
So again, stands for the Global Administrative Initiative Network. And it’s the community that supports all the Administrative Professionals within BlackRock, and how we’re set up, we’re set up to engage, foster and enhance all of our communities talents. And as a network, we provide resources, development opportunities, educational opportunities. But the wonderful thing is, it’s designed for assistants by assistants.

Jeremy Burrows 2:25
That’s great. And I guess today, it’ll be a little while before we publish this episode. But today is an administrative professional day. Today. We’re recording this April 22. And you mentioned it’s the second anniversary of gain

Hayley Cole 2:40
school, the second anniversary of the launch of a global GAIN where all of our regional networks came together. So it’s a pretty special day for all of us. Awesome. Well,

Jeremy Burrows 2:50
congrats. Thank you. All right. Well, let’s talk a little bit, a little bit about you. What was your very first job? And what skills did you learn in that role that you still use today at BlackRock,

Hayley Cole 3:03
my very first job straight out of school, I worked in a warehouse packing Reebok socks, which is a bit different. It was a summer job until I started college. And it was, I did it with a friend. And I think one of the lessons that I took away from that was don’t be too proud to do what you’re there to do. Listen, and absorb the instructions you’re given and get on with it.

Jeremy Burrows 3:35
It’s great. So how did you end up being becoming an assistant? And why’d you kind of embrace that role of an EA.

Hayley Cole 3:46
And my journey to becoming an assistant was, I would say, a secondary choice. I originally had planned to be a performer on the west end stage. But I had a really bad back injury when I was younger. So that put a stop to all of that. I think organizing things and people has always been in my blood and I organized charity events at school. So naturally, performing not being my first option, organizing and administration was the obvious choice.

Jeremy Burrows 4:21
So what do you love about the role of being an EA?

Hayley Cole 4:27
I love the people. They really make it for me whether or not that be my executives or the fantastic admin team that I work with. I like being involved. And I think that’s a really crucial part for me. Having oversight over what your executive does, and working with their leadership teams and seeing it all come together and being a part of that is is important for me. And I would say It’s it’s a baseline that I need to have in an administrative role.

Jeremy Burrows 5:07
Awesome. So how do you work to anticipate your executives needs?

Hayley Cole 5:16
I kind of go with the stop look and listen approach. I just try to absorb everything that’s going on around us, whether that be emails, conversations, participating in meetings, and listening and really just taking a temperature tech check of what’s going on what the priorities are, and the mood of the teams and the people that we’re working with.

Jeremy Burrows 5:45
So what would you tell someone who is on the fence trying to decide whether or not they want to become an assistant?

Hayley Cole 5:55
I’d say go for it. I’d say Be really clear with yourself what you want to get out of it. And which industry you want to be and assistant in? Because I think that’s important.

Jeremy Burrows 6:11
How did you decide what industry you wanted to be in?

Hayley Cole 6:16
I started off, I did a temp role at a local finance company. And I have a wonderful friend called Lorraine. And she was a one of the only female brokers on her desk up in the city. And I met her a few times after work. And it was really fun back in 2000. And there was so much going gone. And it just looked really appealing. So I made sure I had the minimum requirement that was needed for my CV. And then I started interviewing for roles in the city.

Jeremy Burrows 6:52
So let’s get a little bit humbling for a minute, what was the biggest mistake you made as an assistant?

Hayley Cole 7:00
I booked an itinerary. And I had scan ready. The flight slipped okay. I made the assumptions that the hotel that I had requested was fine. It was not it was in a different city. And it was Fashion Week. Yes, so instead of getting the five star accommodation that I assumed I had booked, we ended up in something that looked like the travel Lodge. And I was so apologetic about it. And I pride myself on attention to detail. So it was mortifying for me for that to happen.

Jeremy Burrows 7:43
So what’s one productivity hack that you can’t live without?

Hayley Cole 7:53
It’s my tube map approach. So for all the people that I manage, we have a color coding system. And we have six core colors. And if we look at the diary, and we see something is in dark red, we know that it’s external. So it automatically draws your eye to it. And I we have various other colors that says if something’s a call, if something’s a team meeting if something’s internal, but important. For me, when I have a host of diaries in front of me, it’s an automatic attraction to the caller that I know that the meetings are associated to and I’ve used that since starting back in 2000. And I still use it today.

Jeremy Burrows 8:44
Well, yeah, that’s sounds like a very productive system. So if you could snap your fingers and instantly give all assistance, more of something, what would it be?

Hayley Cole 8:56
I would say confidence that their contribution to their team, their own little ecosystems are just as important as everyone else that is in those teams. We are all there for a purpose. And we are all there to contribute and everyone’s contribution is important.

Jeremy Burrows 9:18
Love it. So it’s part of gain, you know, this global admin network. You all do a lot of networking. So what tips would you have for other systems? When it comes to networking?

Hayley Cole 9:33
I would say just show up in whatever your comfort level is. If it’s a group chat, participate, if it’s in person networking event, just go there are so many people so many like minded people that you can meet that you can get tips and hints and just being able to be a among your peers and people that go through what you go through on a daily basis and to share your stories, and it’s just good to turn up and talk and participate.

Jeremy Burrows 10:13
So what about development? How can assistants grow their existing skills and develop new skills?

Hayley Cole 10:21
I think growing their existing skill set is, I find that I learn a lot from others, I work with a wonderful group of ladies and I have done so for over a decade. And there’s not a week that goes by that I don’t learn something new from one of them. And it’s just being on listen mode as well, just to absorb people’s working methods, how they feel about things. And just wanting to be part of the development conversation and knowing what’s important to you, and what areas that you’re confident in and confident sharing what you’ve learned in those areas. And also, what you’re not so confident in and what you do want to learn more about, and just kind of having an honest conversation with yourself as well.

Jeremy Burrows 11:19
Yeah, so what would be a resource or book, or, course or any sort of training resource that you’d recommend to assistants?

Hayley Cole 11:32
In the UK, we have a wonderful association called E pa. And the courses that they run through that association are so relevant. They each time something new comes out, I think, how have they thought that up is Jeremy, we thought we could know everything about what we do in as assistant and then there’s a new angle. So I find that a really helpful resource. And there’s they’ve been doing a lot of free online stuff as well during the COVID 19. Outbreak. So there, they’ve actually been reaching a lot more people. And I found that element of being able to share more has brought people closer together.

Jeremy Burrows 12:21
Yeah, awesome. So let’s talk a little bit about the assistants who are feeling undervalued, not not being recognized or respected. What is something that assistants can do when they find themselves in those situations?

Hayley Cole 12:39
I’d say talk about it, talk about it with your peers. Sometimes people are experiencing the same situations as you and sometimes coming together and having an open conversation about that can bring solutions to the table. And it’s really helpful. It’s something that I find extremely helpful. And I think also be really clear about what is happening and having all the facts of the situation, whether that be for your self or who you’re working for. I will say find really understanding your purpose in your role makes being included a lot clearer. And I think that leads to you feeling more valued.

Jeremy Burrows 13:31
Yeah, it’s great. So you sit on the diversity and inclusion committee for BlackRock, what’s what’s one thing that we all can do as assistants to cultivate diversity in our workplace?

Hayley Cole 13:48
I think being part of the conversation at whatever your comfort level is, everyone’s contribution, everyone’s feelings and opinions count for something. If you’re not confident enough to stand up in a town hall or a meeting and say what you’re feeling, there’s various different outlets that you can get your point across. There’s emails, there’s chat groups. I’ve used in the past a great system called runway where you can submit anonymous feedback. It’s being part of the conversation, the more people that is part of it, the better the results will be.

Jeremy Burrows 14:42
What about interruptions? What’s your best tip for dealing with constant interruptions?

Hayley Cole 14:50
That’s a really tough one. I work 40% remotely and 60% in the office. For me II, I kind of plan for my interruptions because I know when I’m in the office, and I’m working from there, I know that I’m, I’m physically there, people can see me people drop by your desk. Again being open, and it’s okay to say, I’ll get back to you, or you’ll follow up with them. Or if you know what the topic is that they’re approaching you about, and you, you can give an update, give a quick update. I learned a really great skill many, many years ago, called the two minute wall. And if you can get it done in two minutes, and it’s off your desk and off your to do list, if you’re comfortable doing that, do it.

Jeremy Burrows 15:49
Yeah, love it. I think the it’s also key, what you mentioned about working from home and then working in the office, just their different interruptions to expect. So just preparing for both.

Hayley Cole 16:02
Absolutely. And I, for the time that I do work remotely. I try to plan the tasks that I do from home that need a level of concentration, whether or not it’d be thinking time, scoping out meetings and events that need to happen in a certain order. Whether or not I’m dealing with a huge pile of expenses, and I just need a couple of hours to work my way through them until the very end. Those are the sorts of tasks that I save for home. But now we’re all home at the moment. It’s it’s trying to get the balancing act of having the time to think about things and plan things out versus we’re doing everything in the same space at the moment.

Jeremy Burrows 16:53
Yeah. Awesome. Well, one of my favorite questions to ask is what makes an assistant a leader?

Hayley Cole 17:03
Oh, what makes an assistant a leader? I think clearly knowing your purpose in your role, and being able to positively contribute to your executive success. We are ambassadors for our executives, and we need to act accordingly. I see myself as a gateway to enable the highest level of productivity for everyone that I work with. I don’t see myself as a gatekeeper. I’m a I’m a facilitator. For my executives, goals and objectives.

Jeremy Burrows 17:44
Love it. Couldn’t put it better myself. Okay. Awesome, Haley. Well, thank you so much for taking time out of your day to just kind of share your story. And I love what you guys are doing at BlackRock and with our global network with gain. So keep up the good work keep leading well. And is there anything that we can do to support what you’re up to or somewhere we can find you online?

Hayley Cole 18:10
Yes, you can find me on LinkedIn. Under Hayley Cole. You can find me on Instagram at Hayley underscore_l_Cole and Twitter at haitch_Cole.

Jeremy Burrows 18:29
Awesome. And I’ll put those on the show notes so people can get to them easily and reach out and say hi to you and follow what you’re up to.

Hayley Cole 18:37

Jeremy Burrows 18:39
You can check out today’s show notes at leaderassistant.com/79 to connect with Haley. Thank you, Hayley. It was wonderful conversation. I look forward to seeing you again someday. All right. We’ll talk to you next time. Please leave a review on Apple podcasts.

Unknown Speaker 19:10


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