Member Spotlight – Fiona Calder – VivaVA!

Fiona Calder 1

Q: Tell us about your business

Viva VA! was set up last year as I figured the core skills that I had gathered over many years would be of more use and more appreciated by those small businesses and entrepreneurs who struggle to get everything done. Unusually for a VA, I am a qualified CIM marketer, qualified Graphic Designer (although that was looooong ago!) and have a sound business head on my shoulders, in addition to the more traditional skills offered by a VA. I am based in Rutland but have a variety of customers spread in a wide geographical area. Although ‘virtual’ I do like to work with customers within striking distance as I have always believed in the value of strong relationships where I work ‘with’ customers not necessarily just ‘for’ customers so occasional meet ups over coffee always work well. I am also an approved VA by the Society of Virtual Assistants which gives customers the reassurance that I am a professional VA who has had to meet their standards.

Q: What’s your background and why did you choose to set up Viva VA!?

I set up Viva VA! as I was so unhappy having worked in the corporate world all my career and felt very undervalued and unfulfilled. Despite the global travel, expense account and good commission – I just felt like a square peg in a round hole who was stressed all the time.  Originally, I started as a Graphic Designer, went into Marketing and then got ‘stuck’ in Sales, which I was very successful at but really hated. I had a light bulb moment one day after a long trip to Dorset, came home and announced to a somewhat surprised hubby that I was leaving my job and setting up Viva VA!.

Fiona Calder logo

Q:  What makes you happy?

I thrive on success – not the high flying sort but mainly being given a problem or a task to do and exceeding the customers’ expectations when it is carried out better than they expected. It’s corny but true! In my personal life eating out with family and friends feature high on the list as does cuddles with dogs (we don’t own one but regularly beg cuddles off strangers’ dogs!).

Q:  Favourite food and drink?

Favourite meal…ham, egg and chips! How down to earth is that! I also enjoy the odd glass of fizz now and again too.

Q:  Favourite place in the whole world?

In the UK it would be Hopeman Bay in the North East of Scotland where my ancestors are from. Further afield it has to be India, I loved it out there and one day hope to return. I was gutted to find out you cannot ‘do’ a Marigold Hotel due to visa restrictions. If they change that then we are off!

Q:  If we had to evacuate earth and live in space, what 3 things would you bring with you and why?

By things I presume my husband and daughter don’t count? I would take my huge collection of photos, never ending lip balm and a journal (with built in pen!) to record my feelings and the experience.

Q:  Who inspires you and why?

I worked for a man called Alan Gottschalk many years ago and he was an amazing leader. You knew when he was in the room – you could feel his presence. He was a tough but fair character and let me become a teleworker (that’s what home based staff were called then)  back in 1996 when things got on top of me trying to be a mum and a Marketing Manager. He always stretched me to ensure I realised my full potential. I can’t thank him enough.

Q:  Favourite quote or saying?

John F Kennedy – “If not us, who? If not now, when?”

I strongly believe in not procrastinating – just get on with it and if it is wrong, then apologise or alter it. Unless you are a brain surgeon of course, that needs to be well thought through first!

Q:  Have you got any exciting plans in the pipeline?

I’m looking at creating a VA Associate Network to share some of the work with VAs who are experts in different fields and to provide training, support and mentoring. Not sure on timescales right now.

Q:  Best business tip you have ever received?

Create a robust plan but be man enough to admit adjustments are needed along the journey.

Q:  What do you like best about the Leicester Business networking group?

Lovely people and it’s nice that in each meeting you can get to speak to different attendees as you move from room to room.

Q:  Where can people find out more about your business?

Visit my website

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