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Staff Spotlight: Gemma Frost- Executive Assistant

The first Barker spotlight of 2024 has landed on our super-organised Executive Assistant Gemma Frost. Gemma joined the Cambridge Barker office back in August 2020. Today we spoke to her about her role and how she has found her time here over the last 3 and a half years.

Hey Gemma! Thanks so much for taking the time to sit down and speak with me today! Let’s start by outlining what a typical working day looks like for you?

My main focus at work is managing our condition survey programme, so top of the priority list is always to check my Inbox to see if there has been any last-minute cancellations, alterations and requests that the survey team need to be notified of. My role as an EA requires me to have the ability to think fast on my feet, as change often happens at the last minute and it is my responsibility to ensure all members of staff are correctly and appropriately placed for any client meetings that day.

My role doesn’t have a typical working structure as it varies greatly from one day to the next. Some core parts of my job are putting together survey programmes for clients which requires me to resource from different departments and offices within Barker. I draft fee proposals, deal with new enquiries for surveys, regularly meet with client leads or clients to find out their requirements and scope of timelines and put together a programme for the sites.  As each site is completely different, I have to collaborate with the building surveyors to review and price each one individually and work out an estimated timescale for project delivery. Once a client proceeds with a commission, that is when I would put together a programme and approach all the other teams to resource and work out dates. All sites have to be pre-qualified with the clients and individual trusts and DBS credentials have to be provided for every single person involved in the delivery of the project. This part of the job requires a high level of detail due to the rigorous safeguarding requirements of education settings.

I am responsible for overseeing many of the financial aspects of the office including fee projections and invoicing. There is also an element of office management in my role as I check on a monthly basis that the Cambridge staff are meeting their targets and I am also responsible for helping to train and onboard new starters as well as the lead champion for our internal systems- so I am there to help answer any questions or issues people may have.

What are the most important skills required for your job?

I have found clear communication to be one of the most important skills to use within my position and also being organised! I oversee the co-ordinating and collecting of completed surveys to ensure they are delivered to the client in a timely manner. This involves a lot of internal communication within the business, as well as making sure the client receives regular updates.

How did you find yourself in this role?

I was previously working as a Claims Adjuster in the City but after having a family decided to take a slight career redirection and I pursued a career in office administration.  I had been made redundant from my previous job in administration due to the pandemic.  It was a strange time to change roles, my interview was conducted via Teams and I began the role working from home. It was a really surreal introduction to the job as all my training also had to take place remotely but it allowed me to develop really strong bonds with the staff in our Head office which was lovely, as at the time I was the only member of the administrative team based in Cambridge.

What do you enjoy most about working for Barker?

I love the fact I have a constant flow of work keeping me really busy. The role itself is challenging but so rewarding and one of my favourite parts of working for Barker is everyone is so approachable. I have to communicate with people at all levels from Partners to trainees and everyone is always willing to help. We are lucky to have such a great team of people at Barker as I wouldn’t be able to complete my role without the help of my colleagues, as it’s a full group effort.

The bi-annual Barker socials are also something I really look forward to as we are able to mingle and catch up with our colleagues that being in a regional office I don’t often get the opportunity to see in person.

And finally, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time outside of work?

I am a total bookworm so I love reading, spending time with my family and friends and just making the most of my downtime.


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