Hi, I’m Caroline
I’ve been working as a Virtual Assistant since 2001 and this is how I got to where I am today.
After leaving secretarial college in my late teens, I got a week’s temping work at an International Computer Company. That week turned into months which turned into years and gave me a lot of secretarial/PA experience along the way. This was where I first discovered my talent for creating presentations, initially in Lotus Freelance Graphics and then later on in PowerPoint. I ran a Bid Development Specialist office, where I was part of a team who bid for Government computer contracts (for the Ministry of Defence, Customs and Excise, HMRC). I compiled Proposals and Presentations for these bids and my favourite part of this job was getting creative with the presentations, bringing the team’s ideas to life.
I was fortunate to work with some great people over those years but the computer industry just didn’t really hold my attention. I wanted to do something new and exciting.
I moved to London and got a job as an Office Manager for a Clothing Design Company that had just been launched. I really enjoyed my time with this company, watching the design process from design sketches, through pattern cutting, grading, manufacturing to seeing the final garment hanging in the shop. This sowed the seed for something else that actually interested me more than fashion…
I have been dog mad since I was a small child and grew up with my grandmother’s rescue Lurchers. At this point in my life I had one Lurcher and one Sloughi, they used to come to Clerkenwell with me and slept in a big custom made bed under my desk. We walked on Hampstead Heath before and after work where I encountered several professional dog walkers. As time passed I realised that what I actually wanted to do was work with dogs in some capacity.
I gave up my job in Clerkenwell, started a professional dog walking business and at the same time set up an Online Sighthound Accessory shop. What I really wanted to do was to design a sighthound specific dog coat as all the dog coats I’d had so far just didn’t fit the sighthound shape. So thanks to my Clothing Design friends, we went through the lengthy process of designing a dog coat (and when I say ‘we’, I would scrawl very basic ideas down about what I wanted and my clothing design friends would show me what I needed to do to achieve the end product). This ran successfully for some years alongside my dog walking business.
In 2001 I also started work part time as a VA for a semi-retired lawyer who lived locally to me. I wanted to keep my PA skills up while I was running my other businesses and this fit in great with my other work commitments.
However in my mid 30s my health seriously started to falter. It sort of crept up on me so that I didn’t actually realise what was happening. I’d be up early in the morning to walk dogs, but my head always felt fuggy, my legs felt like lead and every step I took felt like a huge challenge. I’m fairly sure that over this time I just assumed that this was part of getting older and didn’t take much notice. But friends started telling me that it wasn’t normal to need at least 12 hours of sleep at night, and it wasn’t normal to become so ill from over exercising.
I eventually saw my doctor and after a series of tests got sent to the Chronic Fatigue Clinic at the Royal Free Hospital where I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. I tried to keep working but twice passed out on Hampstead Heath with 8 or so dogs in my charge. I hated to admit it but I realised I could no longer run this business and I needed to get out of the city.
Recovery and Beyond
I moved to the outskirts of a small town on the west coast of Scotland in 2009 and began my long road to recovery. After finding a very supportive CFS forum online I started to learn how I could get my health back on track and after 4 years I finally felt fit enough to get back to my life down south and back into work.
I had already researched becoming a full-time Virtual Assistant as I had to be sensible about my health and realised that dog walking was going to be too much for me. I signed up with a VA company locally to me called My Super VA and eased my way back into work. After 3 years with this company and with a lot of encouragement from Vee Smith who ran My Super VA it I decided to branch out on my own. And here I am!
Working as CarolineVA, I spent a year working for myself and still doing some contract work for My Super VA. However in the autumn of 2017, Vee decided to branch out in a different direction and offered me My Super VA. I was very happy to accept and rebrand and am thoroughly enjoying what I am doing again!
I offer a variety of Virtual Assistant Services which you can find on my Services Page.
In my spare time I organise and run on-line auctions to raise money for dog rescue, which is something I have always felt passionately about.
I live in Hertfordshire with my two Lurchers.