Executive Assistant of the Week: Toronto

Grace Vilas-Ramalhal,
Executive Assistant to CEO
Fresh Books

Grace Vilas-Ramalhal is an Executive Assistant at FreshBooks, the number 1 cloud accounting software for self-employed professionals and their teams. Not content simply executing on “traditional” EA roles and responsibilities, she has carved out an indispensable seat at the executive table by drawing on her leadership, problem solving, consensus building and multi-tasking skills. She brings to this role 20 years’ of experience across various industries and firmly believes that participating at the strategic level, and having visibility into a company’s direction and financial health, can up-level any Executive Assistant.

Grace will be one of the distinguished contributors at the ELS Forum: Toronto on March 6-7, 2019

1) Why is the Executive Leadership Support Forum important for Executive Assistants?

The ELS forum is important for Executive Assistants because it is an opportunity to network and learn from each other. Often, this role, can be very isolating and thankless and having a network of people who can understand and appreciate the complexity of the role and be able to leverage their expertise can save time and frustration. I believe that learning from each other and growing within our specific field is an ongoing goal for anyone in any industry and having one dedicated to Executive Assistants is extraordinary.

2) Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud.

I’m extremely proud of the fact that I’ve been able to carve out a role for myself that is quite unique and is usually reserved for only executives. I joined FreshBooks four years ago into a previously non-existing role that gave me the rare opportunity to mold it into whatever I wanted it to be. I convince the executives that by being included in their operational meetings, offsites and having a seat at the leadership table it would provide them with a voice and perspective missing from the executive team. It has been a long and complicated road. I am very proud of the fact that I am a member of their team, can provide honest and objective feedback that they might otherwise not hear and be a conduit for change. They have embraced my participation and now depend on me for advice and guidance during complicated or delicate issues.

3) In your mind, what is one tool you can’t live without or find especially helpful in your position?

I can’t live without OneNote. I use it to keep myself organized and to document all my notes from various meetings. I find it convenient to use both on my laptop and across all my other technologies be it my iPhone or iPad and it gives me access whenever required. I love the ability to be able to have different sections which can be titled differently. It can be used as easily as Word and has a lot of functionality that I’m still learning about.