By the time I left print magazines to work online, I had given in to the believing the fashion cliché that all editors are high drama, short tempered, and just shy of full blown crazy. After working for an editor-in-chief infamous for his mood swings and his aversion to doing anything for himself that he could feasibly get his assistant to do (he once called me from three thousand miles away to find out if it was raining where he was because he hadn't had time to look out his window and check), I had come to accept that slightly demeaning personal chores were the price I would pay for I every column inch I received.
But then I met Jackie.
On the surface she fit the stereotype perfectly: a pretty young woman with an amazing wardrobe and a long history of working at top fashion publications. She could easily have been one of the many Devil Wears Prada wannabes that have become ubiquitous in the world of magazines. Luckily for me, she had nothing, bar an affection for expensive footwear, in common with the legions of diva editors.
Rather than testing my ability to remember complicated coffee orders, she focused on teaching me skills that actually helped her to get her job done. From the correct way to write fashion credits, to when it is and when it isn't appropriate to steal the empty seat in front of you at a fashion show, she built me up into a fashion editor.
Jackie is very good at her job and she understood that in order for her to continue to thrive, she needed a team who also excelled. Her confidence in her ability meant she didn't need to use conscripted dog walking, late night phone calls or screaming hissy fits to exert her authority. Her subordinates respected her because she led by example and invested in their skill sets. Working for her taught me to never be afraid of helping someone junior to you succeed. As a manager, the success of the people who work for you is all the proof you need that you are doing your job well. It sounds so obvious, but it is amazing how often insecurities get in the way of bosses actually being mentors to their staff.
I can think of many people I have to thank for teaching me what not to do once I made it off the bottom rung of the career ladder (for example, the EIC taught me that no matter how much you can't face packing your own suitcase, it is never good to let your assistant see how you leave your hotel room), but it is Jackie who stands out for being the first to show what to do.