Personal assistants (PAs), also known as executive secretaries, work closely with a senior manager, supporting them, their team and their department. Duties depend on the manager’s responsibilities and the type of organisation. The work could involve making appointments and travel arrangements for the manager, maintaining their diary, screening phone calls, and organising and attending meetings.
Other duties include devising and maintaining office systems, dealing with correspondence and looking after visitors. The work involves extensive use of software packages to produce reports, letters and presentations, and possibly to deal with accounts and budgets.
They are expected to work on their own initiative and sometimes need to make decisions on behalf of their manager. The role can be quite pressurised at times, with tight deadlines.
Some PAs supervise more junior staff and take on personal projects.
Personal assistants usually work 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. Overtime and flexible working could be required at busy times or to meet deadlines. Job-sharing is sometimes available.
The work is office-based, but may involve some travel to attend meetings and other events.
To be a personal assistant you should:
Personal assistants mostly work in industry, commerce, the media and local authorities. They may take on more responsibility by moving to a larger company or working for a more senior manager. Promotion to a managerial position or into a specialist role may be possible.
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