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Lottie Mayland13 Jan 2020
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What Does An Executive Assistant Actually Do?

What does an Executive Assistant actually do?

If you’re currently thinking of transitioning careers into the world of being an assistant, work as a Personal Assistant and want to become an Executive Assistant, or just don’t have a clue what an Executive Assistant does then this blog post is for you!

Before we start it’s important to understand that an Executive Assistant (EA) is different to a Personal Assistant (PA). You can find out more about all the different assistant roles and office support jobs here, but for the sake of this blogs it’s worth explaining that an Executive Assistant is usually seen as a more corporate version of a PA, they have more responsibility and act as their boss’s right hand person, getting involved in all aspects of their business affairs. An EA will usually be a graduate of a university or an Executive Assistant College, either working their way up through the assistant side of the business to become an EA or transitioning from a different career. For example, people who have worked as project managers and account managers make great EAs because their experience in problem solving, communication and relationship management is key to both jobs.

As an Executive Assistant you will be working alongside senior members of staff, often at C-Suite and board level, either in a 1:1 capacity or looking after 1 or 2 members of a team. You’ll be responsible for enabling your boss to work at their absolute optimal level, this means taking care of all their admin but also being their right hand person. You’ll need to have a solid understanding of what the business does and what your boss does so that every decision you make is made in the best interest of the company.

What are an Executive Assistant’s responsibilities?

All responsibilities of an Executive Assistant vary by company, however, in most situations you will have complete control of your boss’s diary and emails, keeping tabs on everything that comes in and out to ensure that nothing is missed and everything that needs scheduling gets scheduled. As an EA you are essentially the gate keeper to your boss’s time, you decide who they get to meet with and how long that person is granted, therefore it’s especially important to always be hyper aware of what's going on in the company and their priorities as well as their personal situation so you make informed decisions on where to allocate their time. Whereas diary control is also a responsibility of a PA, an EA has more control and the autonomy to make decisions based on their business understanding. Because of this you will be entrusted with sensitive information and expected to be discreet and diplomatic at all times.

On top of the complex admin side of the role Executive Assistants are often entrusted with special projects and expected to work on these independently. These could be anything from helping your boss with a side project to taking complete control of organising a complex trip abroad or arranging an event that your boss is hosting. Prioritisation is exceptionally important as you’ll need to ensure that you are in control of these tasks as the same time as managing the everyday goings on in your boss’s diary.

As you can see, the role of an Executive Assistant is not an easy one! While you need to be super organised you’ll also need to be good at multitasking and able to switch from task to task with little notice as the day requires. No two days are the same and being a problem solver and solutions orientated person is crucial as most of your work will either be about fixing problems or making things happen.

What type of person makes a good Executive Assistant?

A good Executive Assistant is someone that isn’t afraid to get stuck in; a good attitude and hands-on, proactive approach to work is crucial and something that separates a good EA from an exceptional EA. Being a good communicator is important as you will need to ensure that your boss is fully up to date on exactly what is happening and where he or she needs to be at all times. You might also be expected to brief them on the background to the meetings they are attending and who they are meeting with so being able to retain information and general intelligence are extremely important.

Being an Executive Assistant can be an extremely rewarding career as you will have a direct impact on how well your boss is able to do their job which is likely to affect the ultimate success of the company. If there is an industry you are particulary passionate about working in then working as an EA in a company that operates in that sector is a wonderful way to make an impact.

An Executive Assistant is a job with a huge amount of transferable skills and many people will transition from being an EA to being a project manager or working in logistics or relationship management.

How much does an Executive Assistant get paid?

Pay is something that varies hugely across the EA industry but because of the complex nature of the job and huge impact it can have, senior Executive Assistants can expect to be paid highly and we often place senior EAs in jobs upwards of £50K. Because an EA is working with senior members of staff and is likely to be closely involved in the success of the company they can also expect to receive a competitive annual bonus, usually a proportion of what their boss will receive. We are also seeing an increase in benefit packages across top companies with many offering private medical care, gym memberships and flexible working as standard.

If you are interested in becoming an EA you can take a look at the Executive Assistant jobs we currently are recruiting for here.

Got a question? We’re a friendly bunch at Anderson Hoare so don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’re always happy to chat and offer any advice you might need in your job search.