Working as a personal assistant is not an easy role. It can be stressful, challenging, fast-paced and the hours can be long but it’s all these factors that often draw successful PAs to this career.
A lot of PA’s initially fall into the profession, they may start a career with a company as a receptionist or providing administrative support, but slowly the management sees this person is hard-working, has a lot of drive and initiative. This then leads to more responsibility.
For Senior Executives within a company, the person they have assisting them will need to be someone who suits their personality. The hours together will be long, and they will need to be one step ahead of their Director at all times. Personality fit is imperative in this role.
What skills do you need to be a good personal assistant?
You are essentially your Director or CEO’s organisational support and right-hand person. A good PA will liaise with their direct report to plan their day from start to finish, coordinate their meetings, collate documents and prepare presentations as required and know where they should be at all times. To be successful efficiency is keys – to-do lists, tasks listed by priority, and monitoring outlook folders should all be second nature.
Most of the duties required as a PA are in a professional capacity, however, some also require personal support in order to focus on their business tasks. A good PA is flexible and open to this.
Directors are constantly in demand and their schedules could change at any time so you must be willing to come in early or stay late as required. Some Directors travel a lot, you will be required to arrange the travel bookings and schedules and you may also be required to travel alongside them for continued support.
We have all seen the ‘Devil Wears Prada’ and most of us have worked for a tough boss in the past. The reality is Directors hold a huge responsibility within a company. They are stressed, busy and can’t afford mistakes. Keeping this in mind and leaving your sensitivity at home will make your work-life much easier.
As a PA you need to be steps ahead of your boss at all times. You have to have an excellent initiative to solve any problems that arise without having to bother them unless you have exhausted every other avenue. Plan the week ahead, know where they should be at all times, ensure all meetings are arranged, rooms are booked, catering sorted. Attention to detail is everything.
A calming presence and discretion
A successful PA thrives under pressure. Keeping a clear head, and a positive, logical attitude is essential and a boss will need this especially during their times of crisis. It is also important to realise the role of confidentiality. An enormous amount of trust will be put into you by your boss so discretion is a definite for you to thrive in this position.
Excellent administrative & communication skills
A PA is largely a high-level administrative role. Excel will be your best friend, along with Powerpoint and Outlook (or your managers preferred email tool.) You may be required to do expenses reports and budgets, last-minute presentations, and communicate efficiently in email and via verbal communication to manage your bosses schedule.
Overall, the role of a Personal Assistant may sound challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. It’s an exciting, usually fast-paced, job and you can be sure no day will be the same. PA roles also generally come with a lot of perks.
You will meet highly successful people in the peak of their careers, build strong client relationships and if you work hard you will establish yourself as an invaluable and successful PA.