Personal assistants are often thought of as being overworked and performing menial tasks, but in fact they do a vital job for their employers and the day-to-day job can be extremely varied.
This is particularly true of a London Executive PA working at a high level in a company, for a chief executive or other senior members of staff.
Their responsibilities often go way beyond secretarial tasks, as they can be required to organise events and liaise with high-profile contacts, as well as being involved with most aspects of the company, from marketing to finance.
An Executive PA is also paid well for their efforts. You only have to look at job vacancies to get an idea of how much they can earn, with most of the vacancies listed offering salaries of at least £25,000 and some reaching upwards of £40,000.
Being Ugly Betty.
To give you an idea of day-to-day life for an Executive PA, here are some case studies of people working in the profession, which have been detailed by the graduate careers website prospects.ac.uk.
The first example is one which people may be somewhat familiar with if they have seen the film or read the book, The Devil Wears Prada, or watched Ugly Betty on TV.
Both stories centre around personal assistants.
In the former, Andrea Sachs – played by Anne Hathway – is the second personal assistant to Meryl Streep’s character, editor of major fashion magazine Runway.
Betty Suarez is an assistant at Mode magazine in the programme which takes her name as its title.
In this real life case, detailed by Prospects.ac.uk, Louise is the Executive PA to the creative director of British fashion house Burberry.
She has to organise meetings, travel for the creative director and his team, while acting as a first point of call for outside clients and suppliers.
She works with all aspects of the Burberry business, including financial aspects such as budgets, expenses, invoices and pay, marketing, public relations, recruitment and also working with the Milan showroom.
Mixing With The Best.
Louise works long hours, starting at around 7am and working until 10pm and she said that the job can somewhat take over her personal life.
“I can be called out any time of the day or night to sort something out for the creative director,” she told the website.
The upside is that she gets to spend her time with some of the most influential people in fashion and has a huge amount of responsibility.
“What I’ve learnt from this role is that you not only have to be exceptionally organised and able to empathise with someone’s work load, but you have to be one step ahead of them all the time and be enthusiastic about the area in which you’re working,” Louise said.
“You also have to be quite thick skinned and very flexible in terms of what you’re asked to do,” she added.
Louise said that a university degree was not essential for getting the job.
“I think I got this particular job because I could speak Italian and had knowledge of the fashion industry.
These were both prerequisites. I also needed a good knowledge of London and what was happening in the world,” she explained.
‘Varied And Interesting.’
Another example is Lucy, who is an Executive PA to the director of a large city museum.
She agreed that a degree is not necessary to get a job, but said that many of the PAs working at director level have university-level qualifications.
She told prospects.ac.uk that being politically aware of an organisation is a key skill for succeeded in the profession.
Networking and building good working relationships are also important for being a successful Executive PA.
‘Being a PA can be really good fun,” she insisted.
“If you have a good boss who values your skills … they will make the most of your talents by offering you varied and interesting projects along with the day-to-day tasks.”
“A good relationship will also provide satisfaction because you become crucial to ensuring a manager’s own performance,” Lucy added.
Going Beyond Administration.
However, her role goes beyond these tasks to include undertaking research projects, on which she later reports her findings to the embassy.
She also attends lectures on behalf of the diplomats and takes notes for them.
“I do enjoy my job, as it enables me to expand my knowledge of current affairs, in particular issues relating to the Middle East and I have also learnt how an embassy works,” she told prospects.ac.uk.
Take A Course To Become An Executive PA.
Shilpa Wymer, principal of Pitman Training in Notting Hill and High Holborn claims that the most credible route for someone starting out is to take a diploma level Executive PA course in London.
“First of all, each course is an incredible learning experience which can take you from absolute beginner to the top of the tree,” she asserts.
“Secondly, you’ll develop demonstrably practical skills which will be expected of you when you start work as a PA.”
“Third, when you have a Pitman Training qualification on your CV, you can demonstrate you have been educated by one of the world’s oldest office skills providers and employers will respect that.”
“And finally, when they see the words PA Course London on your CV, they’ll know you’ve qualified where the action is!”