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The Big Interview: Meet Caroline Garland, PA to Marie Claire's Editor-in-Chief, Trish Halpin

Ahead of Marie Claire's much anticipated redesign on September 1st, we lift the lid on the support network behind one of the industry's most repected names, as Caroline Garland reveals the challenges and rewards of working as PA to Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin. 

What is the best part of being PA to Marie Claire’s Editor-in-Chief Trish Halpin?

The role here is so varied and quite literally anything can land on my desk – a request for Trish to judge some fashion awards to a box of vibrating sex toys. Trish oversees everything that the editorial and online team produce from features to fashion shoots and all the Marie Claire events throughout the year. As the way people engage with magazines is changing we move into different formats and now have a videographer and ever expanding online team we’re now able to deliver live tutorials on FB and readers can see behind the scenes footage. Absolutely everything has to be approved by Trish so there’s very much a shifting sands element, which I love. 

What are the challenges of being a PA?

The key thing is being one step ahead at all times. As soon as a request for Trish’s time lands in my inbox it triggers a tick list – who else is needed, do we need stats from the ad team, where will it happen, how long will it take, does another meeting need to happen before, is it more important than the meeting already happening at that time etc.  Another essential skill is being able to prioritise requests –  is the shoot tomorrow, if it’s to view a rail of clothes, is it press week, if yes best to be avoided as Trish will be too busy reading through the issue. Can our Deputy Editor do this meeting instead? This comes with experience and knowing how your boss likes to work. I think it always takes a few months before you get a full understanding then you can build and tweak how you work from there.

Do you have some advice for any aspiring PAs out there?

It’s always good to know what’s going on in the business. That way you can prioritise tasks. Are we launching anything new? Does Trish need to be involved in meetings regarding a new project or event.  It’s also really worth getting to know other PA’s in the company, even if you don’t work directly with them as everyone has different skills and access to different things – it might sound trivial to you for example if you need a last minute meeting room, knowing people on different floors can hopefully help you out and your boss will think you’re invincible.

Some PAs organise large-scale events at their companies, is this part of your role at Marie Claire?

Not really, the biggest events I organise are our summer and Christmas staff parties which is only for about 60 people. It’s still no mean feet as I need to find a suitable venue, the right date, run past people for approval, create an invite with the help of art team, chase everyone to reply, order food and drink once I’ve got final numbers, see if I can arrange mani’s/pedi’s for the team in the office, also hair and make-up for those that want it. Next day arrange food for the office as a little treat after maybe too much fun.

We have an incredible marketing and events team that create both industry and reader events. I always volunteer to help which can involve compiling guest lists for the invites, sending out e-vites from Trish’s email then at the event I’ll be the guest list girl or handy with a microphone to hand to audience members if they have a question for any of our speakers. It’s really interesting to meet both readers and industry experts.

Do you have any organisational top tips?

One really helpful tip is to open an email in the morning that I send to Trish at the end of each day, and throughout the day add bullet points of things that have happened, for example – meeting with features team has gone in the diary at 3pm on Thursday or have RSVP’d yes to the Chanel event on the 20th etc.  I also add any questions I may have that aren’t urgent rather than sending 10 emails thoughout the day or popping my head in.  This way Trish can get back to me when she has time. Every Friday we go through all the updates to make sure we’re up-to-date with everything. 

In the build-up to the deadline for the infamous ‘September Issue’ - which is out now - how does the pressure increase in the Marie Claire Offices?

The fashion team’s shoot schedule is full on, calling in all the new looks. We might have to wait for pieces to be sent in as someone else is shooting.  It has to be timed perfectly as they might be flying to LA/Morocco/Sicily and will need everything to make the flights.  It’s fun (for me anyway) to wander into the fashion cupboard while all this is going on as rails are literally packed with the most incredible fashion.  Every issue is crazy busy but the Sept issue is special, it’s the first time we see new collections so marks the start of a new season.  On top of all the fashion drama there are the new beauty looks and features to write too so it’s heads down and resurface for our summer party for a well deserved celebration after closing the issue.

What is your favourite way to relax once an issue is completed?

My absolute favourite thing would be to head to a furnace like hot yoga class for 90 mins.  After a fierce workout go on to meet friends for dinner and catch-up on life.

What can subscribers expect from future of Marie Claire? Why subscribe?

We’ve just redesigned the magazine which will be revealed in our October issue (out 1 September), I’ve just seen a copy and it looks so amazing, so fresh – I love it, can’t wait to see what everyone thinks. 

Reasons to subscribe….we aim to inspire women with global features, amazing fashion and beauty and advice on all the challenges of life we face on a daily basis – we want to be well informed just like you it’s what drives us to keep creating. 

If you want to stay ahead on the hottest trends in fashion grab a subscription to the new-look Marie Claire 

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