Hello! We’re back with the second episode of Life In Private Staffing season 2 and I’m joined by Senior Household Manager, Rachel Stallard.
We find out about Rachel’s fascinating 28 years in the industry — her stories and lessons learnt. We discuss how newcomers can break into private staffing and find their ideal role. Rachel also explains how she’s handled 2020, what she expects from 2021, and tells us all about her upcoming book.
So, let’s find out more about the wonderful Rachel Stallard! You can listen to the entire episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or your preferred podcast platform.
House Manager, Right-Hand Person, and Ostrich Wrangler…
Rachel’s enjoyed a captivating career. She’s worked in private staffing for almost 3 decades, holding two 10-year long roles in that time. But I was eager to find out how Rachel broke into the industry, and it turns out it was almost accidental.
“I was working as a makeup artist in London, and having a great time,” Rachel explains. “I’d just started working for one of the big musicals when I met a man and fell in love. He had a hotel and a pub, so I was spending weekends helping him and I liked being the host of the pub. So we decided we would do something together and went for a chauffeur and house manager job in Jersey as a couple.”
Rachel and her husband were in for a shock when the job in ‘Jersey’ turned out to be in New Jersey, USA! Listen to the full episode to see how that turned out…
As well as her wealth of experience, Rachel’s held many job titles over the years. She tells me, “Titles are very misleading. I’ve been house manager, estate manager, property manager, business assistant, executive assistant, chief of staff. You could have 10 titles for any role because in a lot of these jobs you find you’re doing a bit of this, and a bit of that. So I’ve always said the title really isn’t important.”
One title Rachel reminisces about is that of ‘Ostrich Wrangler’ because one boss needed her to learn how to operate an ostrich farm. When I said Rachel’s career story is fascinating, I meant it!
Getting into Private Staffing
It can be difficult to land your first job. It’s a catch-22 situation because employers want experience, but how can you get that initial experience?
Rachel’s recruited and managed lots of staff members and gives her advice to applicants: “If you haven’t got the experience — be the best fit, be the most enthusiastic, dedicated, flexible, and willing to learn. Make sure those things come across in an interview. It’s not going to work for every job, but it’s certainly going to improve your chances.”
She also explains that applicants shouldn’t be too daunted by the current job market. “The good thing with this industry is that it’s not been affected by COVID.” Rachel said. “The very wealthy families are still very wealthy. They’re still there and they’re still recruiting. The competition is greater, so just be the best candidate.”
The Challenges of Private Staffing
Our industry is like no other. It’s intimate and private staffers become part of their client’s extended family. Most staffers don’t clock in and out at set times, they must make sacrifices and be available when required. So, one challenge is finding the right fit for both employee and family.
Staff members, particularly those who work alone, can also feel isolated with nowhere to turn for advice. But, Rachel’s recently seen a shift in the amount of interaction between private staffers.
“People have been talking online to each other more. There’ve been groups set up where people are talking to each other from different households,” Rachel explains. “They’re not talking about their boss and about the household. Just saying my day’s been great today on my day hasn’t been so great, or what would you do in this situation? And you know, that’s good that they’ve got that support.”
Rachel’s Upcoming Book
You might be sitting there thinking that Rachel should write a book about her colourful career. So, that’s exactly what she did!
Now, this isn’t an exposé. Rachel’s a model professional and her clients’ privacy — past and present — is her top priority. Private staffing is something of a mystery industry and it’s important to be discreet. Instead, the book will be far more useful and productive.
“It’s more about the attitude you need to be successful,” Rachel says. “The skills that you need, how to get into the industry, how to interview, what to expect and how it’s different from any other job. Not many people will bump into their boss while he’s still in his pyjamas! You need a certain mindset and you have to be prepared for certain things.”
And the book won’t be helpful for staff members only, employers will also find a lot of value in it.
“We’re actually making this a double-ended book,” Rachel tells me. “So if you’re a candidate, you’ll start from the front cover and read about how to be the perfect private staffer. If you’re a family, you flip the book over and start from the back and read about what it’s like having staff in your home.”
I’m super excited for the release of Rachel’s book and will update you on the release. In the meantime, you can find Rachel on LinkedIn, if you have any questions or opportunities for her.
Watch the full episode and learn more about Rachel’s career
This is only a summary of the conversation I had with Rachel. If you work (or would like to work) in private staffing then you don’t want to miss the full podcast.
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