What is an Executive Assistant?
How many times have you been asked "what is an executive assistant" or "what does an EA do"? If you’re like us, then it’s probably more times than you can count. These questions are asked so often in our careers, and we’re sure that the majority of you would agree that the EA/PA role is so varied that there isn’t one definitive answer.
We have grown to love these questions though, because our response gives an insight into just how much we do. The simple response is ‘we are everything you need us to be and will do whatever it takes’. Now this probably seems a bit vague at first, and we’re usually met with a reply of “but what exactly do you do every day?”, which is when we start listing the long list of tasks and responsibilities we have, which can take a while, because as we’re sure you can relate to, we do a hell of a lot!
Depending what industry you work in, the role and responsibilities can vary greatly, but one of the main characteristics we've identified in EA/PAs is that we are like chameleons - we are adaptable by nature and will adapt ourselves to suit the boss, team, company and environment we are in to ensure we are what we need to be for the role to be successful.
The assistants in any organisation are usually the most resourceful and well-connected – they are the person everyone goes to for information, answers or with a problem they need help with. Our skills and ability to get things done are usually underestimated, but those who know what’s good for them will usually realise that having us on their side will benefit them and they will appreciate us for how much we know and do for our boss, the team and the company.
Over the years the role and perception of an EA/PA has progressed, and there are many facets of our role - we take care of diary & email management, budgets, workflow for our executive, editing & formatting, communications, events, travel, project management, buying gifts, getting lunch, making coffee/tea - you name it and we've probably had to do it. That’s the nature of our roles, we do a little bit of everything and we are all-rounders. To some this probably sounds like it would be frustrating as we generally don’t specialise in one particular area, but to those of us who are career EA/PAs, this is what we love about our jobs - it is varied and the scope of our role is limitless.
Many people don’t understand and appreciate the EA/PA role and how much we have to offer our executive, team and company, which saddens us. One day they may need or have an assistant of their own and then hopefully they will appreciate and utilise them to their full potential.
To all you assistants out there, we want to remind you just how valuable you are, and we high-five you for being a kick-ass assistant and the office superstar.
Nis & Sarah