Employee Spotlight: Sam Proctor, Operations Assistant

/ paperform / 8 min read
Jack Delaney

Employee Spotlight is a series that features one-on-one interviews with the smart, interesting and talented members of Paperform's global team. We chat about their careers journeys, passions and what it's like to work for Paperform.

So far you've met Vlad Shvets, our Growth Lead. This week we'll introduce you to Sam Proctor, Paperform's Operations Assistant.

Sam joined Paperform just over a year ago. She assists with general administration, finance and accounting. When she's not getting way too excited about updating and maintaining company policies (someone has to), you'll find her doing jigsaw puzzles, reading true-crime books and holding movie nights with her family.

What is your role at Paperform?

It's hard to wrap up Operations in one sentence, but it's a bit of everything. To break it right down, I'm there to support Diony and the rest of the team with just about anything they need, or at the least send them in the right direction for a solution.

I spend a large chunk of my time working with Diony. She's the co-founder and COO, so is across the entire business. A lot of my day to day work comes down to working with her to assist with general company administration, as well as finances and some accounting.

"On top of that, I'm responsible for maintaining all existing company policies and procedures, as well as coming up with new ones to help Paperform tick along and run smoothly."

Luckily for me, when I started there were already excellent policies and procedures in place. Usually, it's a matter of getting them down in a doc (or form) and fine-tuning them, which is partly why I love my job so much. Sorting and organising files is like Christmas for me.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

Yeah, so it's a bit different at the moment with Sydney's lockdown. But, generally, I try to get up and start the day early. I'll boss the kids around, make sure they're all organised and ready for their day, then I'll be at the computer by around 7:30 am.

My favourite thing to do first thing is touch base with the rest of the team on Slack. I check in, see what the team’s up to and just ease into the day. Our team's always up to something so that usually takes me through to around 8 o'clock and that's it. I get stuck into work.

I tend to work through lunch when I'm home. Often I'll eat at the desk. It's one of those things I know I shouldn't do, but I just like to go right through. Then, at the end of the day, I normally go for a run around the Bay either by myself or with the kids. That's my wind downtime, then it's straight into the evening routine.

Before lockdown the girls [Sam has three young daughters] had sport training and music lessons, so we'd have to run around and do that sort of stuff. Now we literally can't go anywhere, so it's just dinner and some family time.

With everyone at home at the moment, how do you find that balance between working and being a wife and mum?

Well, my biggest problem is keeping my nose out of everyone else's business. I'm a control freak—I want to be across everything. I'm constantly running through, what are the girls doing for online school? What's for lunch? Do they need a snack? When is my husband's next meeting? Does he want a coffee?

This, mind you, is all stuff I don't need to know and they don't need help with. They can all handle themselves, which is a fact they remind me of constantly (unless they need something, then I'm the first one they come running to!) But I just want to be involved.

Luckily, organisation is kind of my thing. So I'm good at compartmentalising these different parts of my day, whether it's household stuff, work or exercise. The hardest part is just minding my own business and doing my thing.

You're undoubtedly Paperform's organisation guru. Do you have any tips for people or teams looking to be better organised?

I'm a big to-do list person, both physically and digitally. I love lists, note-taking and documentation in general. I have little Post-It notes and sheets of paper all over the place, as well as a notebook I use to jot things down. I also use the Notes app on my phone and Asana. Everything lives in Asana.

I've got lists and notes everywhere for both work and home. My thought process is basically, if there's a paper trail or it's written down, then you're good to go. You're most of the way to being organised just by writing things down.

"My first tip is to use lists and document everything—thoughts, ideas, meetings, whatever. The other thing I would suggest people do when starting a new project or, really any kind of task, is to get an idea of the big picture before starting."

I spend a lot of time organising documentation and I like to see the whole thing in one big mess from start to finish. Then I can get a bird's eye view, and go through one by one knowing I have everything I need to get the work done.

What's your favourite part about working at Paperform?

I feel like everyone's going to say this because our team is amazing, but my favourite part is the team. A hundred percent. Everyone is kind, funny and compassionate, and we all gel socially.

In terms of actual Operations, I love keeping things in order and controlling stuff, which, I'm sure everyone has noticed, has become a bit of a theme. I can't help it! I get satisfied when those procedures I've had a hand in creating are in place and I can see Paperform running smoothly as a business.

It doesn't have to be major things either. It could just be someone applying for leave, or taking a holiday, or if I'm in an accounting meeting with Diony and I know exactly where to file the stuff they're talking about. I really love those moments where all that background work pays off.

More broadly, I'm just so grateful to have this rare opportunity to change careers at my stage of life. I consider myself young, but really I'm really probably not. It sounds cliche, but every day I sit down at the desk I'm excited about work. Everything about the job appeals to me—plus, it's the one place I'm allowed to be a control freak and it is actually a good thing!

Before joining Paperform you had a range of jobs, from running your own brewery restaurant to being a certified podiatrist. Do you think those diverse experiences have helped you in your current role?

I think Diony recognised the transferable skills I'd built up before I did. When I left podiatry I had no idea what would come next. I'd been working in the same field for 16 years and I was asking myself 'what else can I possibly do?'

I thought of myself as purely a podiatrist. But Diony helped me realise I have more to give; that I had experience and skills that could be applied to a totally different field. Communication, time management, legal policies and procedures, running your own business—this was all stuff I had been doing for years.

So in hindsight, those experiences have definitely helped. Though it took the support and, I suppose, trust of Dean and Diony to help make that realisation. There's been a great balance of learning (the tech world was completely new to me) and challenging me to use my skills where I can.

You use the product a lot in your day-to-day work. What's your favourite thing about Paperform as a tool?

For me, the best thing about Paperform is just how easy it is to use. This might sound like blasphemy working for a tech company, but I'm not a technical person at all. I've usually got this natural fear of tech but Paperform is just so smooth and easy to get a handle on.

"I was a bit sceptical at first. I was like 'what is this?' 'Why do people rave about this form builder?' Now I see why. What first stuck out to me was the customisation. I don't have the world's greatest imagination but with Paperform I didn't need it. It was all done for me."

It's got everything there. The colours, the themes, the templates, and the help centre if I get stuck. I know there are people out there doing insane calculations and setting up intricate businesses that take some finesse, but at my level I know I can just log in and create whatever I need to without any hassle.

And I'm constantly creating forms. We run the vast majority of our internal processes using the product because it's awesome. Consent forms, leave requests, expense claims, and equipment purchases are just a few off the top of my head that pop up all the time.

Lightning Round ⚡️

What is your favourite book?

If I had to pick one it would be The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I loved it. I got my kids to read it and always recommend it. So far my track record is pretty decent, I've only had one person that thought it wasn't that great.

What was your dream job as a kid?

I'm actually laughing because it makes me think of the Seinfeld episode. One of my earliest memories is wanting to be a Marine Biologist. At some point, it evolved into a scientist and then along the line anything in the health field, which became podiatry. But yeah, I'm basically George Costanza.

Do you have any secret talents people don't know about?

Well, when I was younger I got to brown belt in Karate, which is one off a black belt. I also play classical guitar and played tuba in a brass band up until I was 19. And, last but not least, I can do a headstand. That's my party trick.

Which three items would you take with you on a deserted island?

My eyebrow pencil, because without it I just look constantly surprised, my Macpac jacket because I'm always cold and a jigsaw puzzle, because they keep me occupied and take away my anxieties—and I'm happy to die doing a jigsaw puzzle.

👋 Thanks for reading! Stay tuned for a new instalment next month. Like the idea of working with Sam? We're currently hiring for a Junior SEO Marketer and a Customer Success Specialist.

About the author
Jack Delaney
Jack is Paperform's Content Manager, based in Sydney, Australia. He loves hard-boiled crime fiction, Michael Mann movies and coffee as black as midnight on a moonless night. || jack@paperform.co

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