A guide to grasping opportunities and advancing your career – An interview with former Trump EA Jacqueline Fini

A guide to grasping opportunities and advancing your career – An interview with former Trump EA Jacqueline Fini

We were super, SUPER excited to catch up recently with a former EA to America’s 45th president, Donald Trump.

Jacqueline Fini, a previous EA to Donald Trump before he became America’s 45th President, is an international speaker at Akolade’s 4th Annual National Public Sector EA & PA Summit in Sydney next week starting on the 13th February.

Her session, playing the Trump card – Grasping opportunities and advancing your career is about;

  • Developing your personal drive to succeed, thrive and get the job done.
  • Working under high pressure, and sometimes controversial, situations whilst ensuring your own personal health and wellbeing.
  • Embracing the value of an improbable opportunity and learning to listen, adapt and execute work through meaningful conversation.

We thought we would get the ball rolling for her session and ask some top line questions on what she will cover in more depth next week. Jacqueline has some fabulous tips so if you would like to hear more be sure to take a look at this conference not to be missed! 

Jacquline, looking at your LinkedIn profile, you’ve had an amazing career as an Executive Assistant and have even grown to become Manager for Marketing Operations and Project management. But we’re all curious to know how was it that you became an EA to the man who is now the President of the United States of America?

It’s a funny story, really. When I was in college I wanted to work in the sports entertainment industry, either for a team or an agency. However, after several negative internship experiences in this field, I decided to try something entirely new and applied for a receptionist position at an “unnamed finance company” in New York City. Needless to say, when I arrived for my interview it wasn’t what I expected!

What did you bring to the table that set you apart from other candidates and got you the job?

The interview caught me entirely by surprise, so I didn’t have anything prepared. I think this alone was part of my assessment—seeing how I reacted to the situation. When I first spoke to then – “Mr Trump,” I was calm, engaged and very much interested in speaking to him. It’s easy for people to feel intimidated or nervous around celebrities/people of power. Because I was accustomed to being around celebrities from working for multiple sports teams, I wasn’t star-struck. From my experience, these executives [people] just want to be treated with respect; they don’t want to feel untouchable and that you are scared of them. I believe it was my poised demeanour and ability to engage in meaningful conversation that played the greatest role in helping me get this job.

As the EA to Donald Trump, you must have had some long days and tight deadlines. What were some key things that you would do to stay on top of everything and ensure that Donald Trump had everything he needed to do his job?

Above all, the most important key to success is being able to approach every task or request with a macro perspective. Think about how the situation with affect the future and operate as if you are tackling the larger task.

What were some of the most important things you would not negotiate on when it came to your health and mentality?

Work-life balance, honesty and trust.

I proactively set expectations on what I needed the dynamic to be between my professional and personal life for me to be most effective and happy. This discussion, amongst many others, built a relationship with my boss and co-workers founded on trust. We were a team all working towards the same goal, and we all helped out equally to support each other and get the job done.

How did you and do you ensure that you can be proactive in your role and ensure that you can eliminate risk and errors? What do you do to stay proactive and try to foresee what your bosses will need?

It’s like a game of chess.

No matter what situation you are faced with at work, consider the effect your actions will have on the business, your executive and your peers. Keeping a macro perspective on even everyday tasks will help you stay proactive in your role and eliminate errors, because you will, in fact, be thinking ten steps ahead and be able to anticipate problems of everyone else.

Working with such a high-profile person, we know that personal branding plays a bit part. What are some of the things you incorporate into your personal brand to ensure you are always seen in a positive manner?

Being a dynamic Executive Assistant isn’t always easy and it can be difficult trying to understand how to conduct yourself in such a way that aligns with a company’s mission while knowing when it’s okay to disagree. At the end of the day, you have to stay true to yourself, and in times of disagreement, it’s important to remember that your job- and your boss’s opinions – don’t define you.

Your personal brand is defined by the way others perceive you and through the way you carry yourself, especially when controversy arises as it does working for a public figure. For me, staying professional, being perceptive, respectful and engaging in deep meaningful conversation, are the ways I stay true to myself and build my brand.

Can you give advice for someone wanting to start out as an assistant to a high profile individual or company?

The best advice I could give is simple. Whether you’re speaking to a world-famous celebrity, a CEO of a global corporate or an intern, never lose sight that they are just people like you and I. Always communicate with respect and thoughtfulness, just DON’T BE NERVOUS!  You never know who’s paying attention and what extraordinary opportunities may be headed your way.

What traits do you think makes a great EA/PA?

While the list could go on for days about what makes an individual a great EA/PA, I believe it’s most important to be action-oriented, patient, perceptive, a great listener and logical.


What is your best advice/ tip on being a successful EA?

Work hard, listen, ask questions, find what makes you happy but above all, embrace the journey.

We can’t agree more with Jacqueline’s advice! What do you think?

If you want to hear more from Jacqueline her session at Akolade’s 4thth Annual National Public Sector EA & PA Summit is on the 13th February. Some other topics that will be explored are strategies to progress your career and includes sessions to enhance leadership skills, change management, communication and conflict resolution strategies, as well as the opportunity to hear from C-level executives and private sector case studies. By harnessing these skills,  you can build your personal success as well as that of your executive.

For more details on this event, and to register for your place, please visit: https://akolade.com.au/events/the-4th-public-sector-EA-PA-summit



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