“I’ve been bowled over by the fact I haven’t been able to find anyone who can match British PA standards,” she says. “I’ve tried training people from other countries – from India to South Africa – but it would take a good year for them to get up to scratch.
"The English language is so different and because 99 per cent of dictators don’t dictate spot-on because they’re thinking as they talk, the girls have to edit as they go along. It’s very different to just typing something out."
Two hundred and fifty people service Outsec’s clients, who have outsourced their secretarial work. “Our service provides people with the option to keep their secretary but outsource the typing so it frees up her time and so she can be more proactive. You’re getting more value for money,” Phillips explains.
Clients have dedicated secretaries so they often develop a rapport with them. Phillips says: “They get to know each other and they really bond. Last Christmas we were bowled over by the amount of clients who asked for their secretary’s address so they could send them a card.”
The business is recession proof but Phillips admits turnover hasn’t increased as much as she’d hoped: “A large chunk of our business is property, which is a sector that’s been heavily affected by the downturn.”
However, Philips insists she doesn’t run for the business for the money. “When I started out it was about money but after a while it was because I got all these lovely letters and notes from the girls saying how much they enjoy working for us. The like the fact they can work from home and have a say in the hours they do. After a while it was ‘oh my god, I love this job because everyone’s got such a buzz from it’.”