Executive Assistant of the Week: Detroit

Jillian Hufnagel
Chief of Staff

Jillian is a Chief of Staff who approaches her work with intense passion and consistent enthusiasm working with high functioning CEOs. She forms deep partnerships at all levels of the organization to ensure data and context align with clearly defined goals and objectives. A keen observer with excellent listening skills, high emotional intelligence, and leadership coaching tactics. Continuous learner, mentor, proud Mom of 2, and artist.

Jillian will be one of the distinguished contributors at the ELS Forum: Detroit on April 17-18, 2019

1) Are there any blogs, books, articles, or online forums you recommend reading?

Turn the Ship Around, David Marquet
No Ego, Cy Wakeman
5 Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni
Crucial Conversations, Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny
Any articles from these folks:
CoS Coach – Tyler Parris
EA Coaches – Phoenix Normand & Jeremy Burrows
Exec Coach – Kirk Dando

2) How do you describe your role when people ask what you do for a living?

I am a strategic business partner to my CEO. Responsible for ensuring that my organizations’ vision and mission are successfully executed. Supporting healthy and efficient operational cadence, weaving cross functional goal alignment, and creating high quality experiences for the leadership team and beyond.

3) Tell us about a mentor who changed your professional life. What was it about this individual that left such a lasting impression?

1 – A former CEO that I supported as his EA. He was the person who saw my potential well before I could fathom my future value and success. He challenged me often by putting me outside of my comfort zone with stretch assignments and strategic responsibility. More important, he let me fail and coached me through accountability and continuous learning. He gave timely and relevant feedback. Similarly, he sought my feedback and observations as his strategic partner.

2 – A former executive, whom I admire greatly as a leader and a human, told me in a peer coaching team building session that if “I spent even 5% of the effort and passion I give to others on myself, I could move mountains.” This shook me. It inspired me to find my voice as a leader too.

4) Is the executive assistant role a long-term profession for you?

I am 18 years into my journey. I began as an Admin Assistant to multiple doctors at Children’s Hospital Boston where I fell in love with schedule tetris, but not the strict schedules. I have been a receptionist, office manager, AA, EA, and most recently, a CoS and manager to a team of amazing EAs. I am and have always been a coach and mentor to budding AAs, growth focused EAs, and emerging CoSs as they seek guidance on their own paths to growth and success.

5) What is your favorite part about being a strategic business partner to your executive?

Helping my executives be the best leaders they can be. At any given moment, navigating from 1,000 to 50,000 feet based on need and desired outcomes is challenging and rewarding. I “sweat the smaller stuff” and ensure the “big stuff” is on track so they can be the strategic and cultural leader their organization needs.