Executive Assistants provide essential clerical, administrative and strategic support for the executive they’re assigned to. Usually, an Executive Assistant is specifically assigned to one named executive, for whom they book travel, arrange meetings, keep records, manage contacts and perform secretarial and sometimes personal duties. Executive Assistants are also a key ‘sounding-board’ and source of professional advice for executives, which is what distinguishes them from a secretary per se. The role carries a great amount of responsibility, and they are important enough to have desks that are usually positioned immediately outside the office of an executive.
Responsibilities of an Executive Assistant
The role of an Executive Assistant is primarily an organisational one. They are responsible for the auxiliary tasks generated by trade, for example, while the executive they report to is responsible for generating trade itself. With the assistant taking on the burden of the auxiliary tasks, and performing them to a highly specified and proficient degree, the executive is free to focus on core areas of the company or organisation.
Executive Assistants will often carry out the following duties:
- Arranging and/or confirming appointments, meetings, events, locations and logistics
- Preparation of briefings for events and meetings
- Screening and managing external communication
- Prioritising incoming communication
- Manage expense reports, and reduce expenses if possible
- Ensuring the smooth day-to-day running of the executives office
Key Characteristics of an Executive Assistant
The role itself is widely considered something of an elite position. While the description of duties aligns the position with that of an Admin Clerk, having sole responsibility for the affairs of en executive affords certain privileges that are not enjoyed by other types of assistant. Pension plans, impressive salaries, and the opportunity to grow within an organisation enhanced by experience with some of its most vital duties mean that this is a sought-after position.
The job demands someone who is meticulous, scrupulous, and cool under pressure. Executive Assistants usually have five years of experience as clerks and general assistants before advancing to this rung of the career ladder. ‘Excellent communication skills’ is a quality often over-used in job descriptions, but in this case it is both a requirement and self-evident skill. These assistants will be dealing with senior members of various departments and organisations on a daily basis, as well as striving to neutralise difficulties as they arise and facilitate the kind of working environment that an executive needs to better build their business.