What is an Executive Assistant?
An Executive Assistant (EA) supports senior members of an organisation, including members of the executive committee. Working within a challenging environment with a number of key stakeholders, the executive assistant works in a fast-paced and pressurised environment to deliver administrative support.
This administrative support becomes an integral element to the business achieving its objectives and successes as the executive assistant enables their manager who will be a senior director, or in some cases a CFO, COO, or CEO. Holding a high-profile within an organisation, an executive assistant offers professional advice and recommendations in business activities, as well as completing a variety of coordination and administrative duties.
What’s the Difference Between and Executive Assistant and a Personal Assistant?
These two roles are often interchangeable. Different businesses will interweave and assign responsibilities to suit their own business structures. So, each Executive Assistant will be somewhat unique in their skill-set and the tasks that they take onboard for the business.
The constants of this position focus on delivering senior support to the business, core organisational skills and process management to ensure a smooth workflow across the board with whichever department the EA is working with at any given point.
Board-level assistants are often seen as the right-hand to senior members within an organisation, including people on the executive committee and senior managers. The essential difference between these positions are reliant on the level the assistant supports, and the wider involvement that assistant has with the rest of the business departments.
As a leadership ambassador, executive assistants can be the first point of contact before reaching an executive and can deliver a clear and concise message to the executive, applying influence where necessary.
Why is an Executive Assistant so Pivotal to the Business?
By acting as a liaison between internal and external stakeholders, such as vendors and colleagues, the executive assistant manages the flow of information to and from the senior executive. This position requires a truly switched-on professional who conducts themselves dependent on the organisational structure, policies, goals, and objectives, assimilating their own work to the overall success of the organisation.
What are the Responsibilities of an Executive Assistant?
An Executive Assistant works across a number of internal departments by acting as an extension of their manager. The variety in this position means that the individual responsibilities of an Executive Assistant can vary form position to position, and dependant on the demand of their skill-sets across the business.
Typical responsibilities include:
Responding to information requests
Ensuring follow-up actions
Drafting and approving written communications,
Conducting research and generating reports by collecting data
Managing the executive’s professional and sometimes personal calendar and coordinating appointments to ensure a smooth workflow
Review and filter all incoming and outgoing mail
Undertaking special assignments and projects as needed
What Skills are Required to be an Executive Assistant?
Although responsibilities vary from each Executive Assistant, there are some skills which are necessary to achieve in this fast-paced critical position.
Key Skills Include:
Judgement and Decision-making
Coordinating with others
The Future of the Executive Assistant
With the rise of virtual assistant and slow transition of the business world in automation, there is a counterargument that the executive assistant will always remain a central part of an organisation. The one-on-one contact they have with the executive, their unchallenged interpersonal skills, and ability to disseminate information and run projects through their organisational ability is a necessity.
As a high-profile person within the business, an executive assistant is often the first point of contact for queries and questions as they have a wealth of knowledge on the business and how it runs. Their approach to understanding the inner workings and ability to manoeuvre between departments to deliver success will always be needed, even with the aid of new time-saving technologies.