The daily challenges of an Executive Assistant
The time when an executive assistant had to look after diary management and secretarial functions is gone. The role of an executive assistant or a personal assistant involves much more than that and needs a lot of talent. Being a virtual executive assistant includes a lot of discipline, flexibility and the necessity to be available whenever needed.
Are you interested in a career as a virtual executive assistant and ask yourself what kind of challenges are awaiting you day by day? We have found some answers to the most important facts, having interviewed our virtual executive assistants.
What does an average working day look like?
I support the management and because it is a team, I have to deal with different kind of personalities and tasks every day. Therefore my role varies daily. I align myself each day with the actual situation. Each day there are new and challenging tasks coming in that I have to deal with as a virtual executive assistant.
Of course, the work includes the typical tasks like diary management, email management and making travel arrangements. But I am also involved in co-ordinate project-based work and interact with external clients.
What kind of skills do you need as an executive assistant?
I am hired to assist the general manager or other high-ranking company officials and takes on tasks that will allow the boss to get on with his/her main tasks. Good communication skills and initiative are valuable assets. In my job as an executive assistant I am usually based in an office, although working remotely is an option if circumstances allow. Specific duties depend on the role.
An executive assistant represents the company and the management. For this reason it is very important to be professional communicating with people. It is also essential to prioritise tasks and excellent organisational skills are needed.
Advantages are a high ability to adapt tasks and being bilingual.
What exactly do you do?
Besides to the tasks I have already mentioned, I would like to add that executive assistant duties often need industry knowledge and business savvy, particularly when conducting research, compiling reports, dealing with difficult clients and situations, drafting letters, and anticipating business needs. A successful executive assistant will need to work well under pressure to meet tight deadlines and deal with challenging work environments.
What do you like most about the job as executive assistant?
An effective executive assistant must be reliable so that managers have the confidence tasks will be taken care of correctly and on time. Executive assistants must also have strong problem-solving skills and be assertive in challenging situations. A willingness to learn and to be trained are helpful for career advancement. That is what I like most. You are in a very important role with a lot of responsibility.
What kind of advice would you give people who want to become a virtual executive assistant?
Most important is the EA’s ability to understand and expect the needs of the boss (or person they are working for). Other crucial attributes are organizational skills, an awareness of world events and mutual respect.
Sudden organizational changes and office politics need to be managed effectively, pressure handled and PR mastered. You need to motivate yourself and be confident in dealing with difficult situations, particularly with people you have never met. Your manager will not necessarily give recognition for what you do.