Personal assistants work for managers and executives (or sometimes for wealthy or celebrity individuals and families), undertaking a variety of administrative tasks.
PAs need extensive knowledge of the organization in which they work. You will need to know who key personnel are (both external and internal) and understand the organisation’s aims and objectives.
A personal assistant is sometimes called an executive secretary, as well as a personal or private secretary.
- acting as a first point of contact: dealing with correspondence and phone calls
- managing diaries and organizing meetings and appointments, often controlling access to the manager/executive
- booking and arranging travel, transport and accommodation
- organizing events and conferences
- reminding the manager/executive of important tasks and deadlines
- typing, compiling and preparing reports, presentations and correspondence
- managing databases and filing systems
- implementing and maintaining procedures/administrative systems
- liaising with staff, suppliers and clients
- collating and filing expenses
- miscellaneous tasks to support their manager, which will vary according to the sector and to the manager’s remit, eg completing some corporate governance reporting (to ensure that the business is being run properly and complying with legislation and regulations) or conducting research
Although this area of work is open to all graduates and those with a diploma, a degree in business or management may increase your chances. Some subjects are more relevant for certain industries, e.g. English literature for publishing and law for legal work.
For diploma holders, the following subjects may increase your chances:
- secretarial studies.
- exceptional written and oral communication skills;
- excellent word processing and IT skills, including knowledge of a range of software packages;
- the ability to work under pressure and to tight deadlines;
- good organizational and time management skills;
- the ability to research, digest, analyze and present material clearly and concisely;
- excellent interpersonal skills;
- the ability to work on your own initiative;
- honesty and reliability;
- attention to detail;
- flexibility and adaptability to juggle a range of different tasks and to work extra hours to meet deadlines;
- discretion and an understanding of confidentiality issues.