By Joanne Manville
Joanne Manville is a Virtual Assistant who started her own business ‘Joanne Manville Virtual Assistance’ after ten years as a successful Executive Assistant to Chief Executives and Managing Directors in both the public and private sectors.
Whilst in some organisations the role of a PA has changed little from the traditional role of secretary, in many the PA now undertakes a wide variety of responsibilities and roles.
The core roles and responsibilities of PAs still tend to be centred around arranging and facilitating meetings, diary management, emails and booking travel, but it doesn’t stop there. Many of the things that we do as PAs are outside of our basic job description and often come under the elusive heading of ‘any other tasks appropriate to the role’.
The title ‘Executive Assistant’ is becoming more widely used to describe a PA who is not only the PA to an Executive, but also undertakes more strategic functions in the business – requiring a different skill-set altogether.
Some examples of these are:
- Representing managers at meetings, or attend meetings in their own right, demonstrating confidence and decision making skills and a strategic understanding of the business;
- Supporting more than one manager at once – requiring the skills of tact and diplomacy and excellent prioritisation skills;
- Line management of apprentices, administrators and receptionists and sometimes even other PAs – requiring management skills, the ability to lead a team and to deal with conflict;
- Training and development – requiring confidence as well as presentation and public speaking skills;
- Recruitment – requiring objectivity, excellent questioning and knowledge of equality and diversity;
- Drafting or writing papers to be received by management or Boards of Directors, requiring skills in writing, research, analysis and presentation of data;
- Managing the social media accounts for the business, requiring knowledge of compliance, regulation, strategic awareness and the brand which the company wishes to project.
Should we be annoyed at having to take on these additional responsibilities, or seek them out to enhance our skills and ensure we are being the best we can be? Of course, it’s a personal choice and taking on additional roles and responsibilities should not be done lightly or without discussion of additional responsibility allowances. It may mean working longer hours or making difficult choices around our priorities.
In my career, I undertook all of these roles, sometimes at the same time. I felt it was key to being the best PA I could be. Managing others gave me valuable insights into the pressures on my colleagues and on their managers. Training and Recruitment enabled me to choose and develop the team around me and make improvements to the way in which we worked together and supported one another. I also felt the additional challenge was important for my own self development and career – although in the end not even that was enough and eventually I decided to use all the skills I had learned to help me build my own business as a Virtual Assistant!
What roles do you undertake outside of the traditional PA role? Are there things that you would like to get more involved in? Feel free to leave your comments below