Adding Value as a PA/EA

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By Amy Marsden

Amy is a PA with over 8 years’ experience and is currently PA to Hank Uberoi, CEO of Earthport, an international cross border payments company with its headquarters in London. Prior to that she was assistant to Seth Berman, London head of US based digital forensics firm Stroz Friedberg, and cross-bench peer Lord Nicholas Stern of Brentford. 

How PA’s and EA’s can directly contribute to the success of their employer

Employers today are becoming increasingly demanding of their employees, and assistants are no exception. We are expected to arrive ready to hit the ground running, armed with both the experience and knowledge required to carry out any task assigned to us, capable of taking on a high workload and battling intense office hours. Yet, our role is commonly perceived as a “luxury” by budget conscious HR departments with PA’s/EA’s being reserved for those at the top of a company’s hierarchy. There is no better justification for your position within a company than your ability to “add value” to the business you work for and contribute to the success of your employer.

Adding value for an assistant can be defined as the contribution you make outside of your  job description, the action you take which will directly affect the progress of a business and help it move forward, and the additional work you undertake to support the achievement of the “bigger picture”. Here are three simple suggestions of how you can work towards adding value:

  1. Support business development– the route to revenue

A little research can go a long way; get to know your sector and be quick to spot important press items such as the news of mergers, important hires, announcements, and upcoming conference dates etc. Set up Google alerts for key industry words and the name of your company. Read newspapers, industry publications, online articles, and circulate any interesting developments within your team or share with your boss – they may be able to grab an opportunity to sell, present their services, or gain a business contact based on the information you have provided.

Attend PA/EA events; the new friend you make over drinks may be the PA to the Head of that new start-up your boss has been keen to meet with. Leverage your network of contacts, and develop a social media presence to expand it.

Challenge yourself to learn more; are you aware of who your competitors are? Do you understand the different functions/departments within your company? Do you know what your service/product is? Did your boss follow up with the CEO he met at that conference last week? Can you do a little research on them before he/she does?

  1. Review existing processes and procedures – streamline for success

“Tidying up” or essential maintenance can improve our work efficiency and how well we serve our customers/clients/staff. Take a little time to assess what works well in your business and what doesn’t ; perhaps take the initiative to introduce or implement change in one of these areas? This could be something as small as creating a new PowerPoint template, drawing up an event’s check list or making a Gantt chart for the team project you are working on to keep deadlines in check. It could also be a larger action such as meeting with a new travel provider, arranging a new conference room booking system or creating a user guide for new starters.

Saving time and money are at top priorities for businesses in 2015. Although you may not have access to an overview of spending or be a budget holder,you could propose a new supplier for something simple like business cards or stationery, researching discount codes and promotions. If you do have access to figures, analyse average spends on travel, hotel bookings and catering; are there cheaper, faster or more innovative alternatives that can cater to your business?

  1. Get involved in other areas – go the extra mile

Are you an expert at PowerPoint, Photoshop, or Salesforce? Could you spare some of your down time to utilise those skills and support the marketing team in an area where they are under staffed? Would you like to use that degree in Media & Publishing you gained at University? Could you share your knowledge and offer to train a colleague to use a program or tool you are familiar with? Businesses often spend time and money hiring or training staff to cater to evolving business needs. If you are able to take the chance to break routine and blur the lines of your job description for the success of the wider business, do so.

You may be particularly passionate about the environment, or the “go to” person for social events, always the first to know about that amazing new restaurant that just opened in the city. Why not develop yourself within office hours by doing something you enjoy? Take the lead on a new project such as recycling; reducing waste, saving money and motivating others to amend their habits. Arrange regular team drinks, “lunch & learns”, or put yourself forward to help organise the next summer party. This will help motivate your colleagues and cultivate team spirit which directly affects morale and helps foster a collaborative culture.