OBJECTIVES OF THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT
The senior Executive Assistant role is light years away from the Junior Secretarial role in terms of duties, attributes and skill-set. Particularly as senior EAs often work at CEO level, which this job is.
Senior Executive Assistants are established professionals with proven managerial and operational abilities, which may include personal tasks performed for the C-level Execs.
Senior EAs are expected to be fully aware of their executive's goals. Helping their boss achieve his/her strategic objectives is a fundamental requirement of the role. The senior EA's ability to prioritize and remain focused under pressure is testimony of their flexibility, adaptability and change responsiveness in an atmosphere of constantly shifting priorities.
EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT TRAINING & DEVELOPMENT
Senior Executive Assistants adopt an attitude of regular professional development. They keep abreast of technological changes so that they can quickly master new technologies and keep a watchful eye on the latest gadgetry. Influencing decisions by recommending the latest and most cost effective office technology is an aspect of the senior EA's role.
Senior EA’s invariably have a bachelors degree - usually in Business Administration or similar. Many have a masters degree. For bright junior Administrators, the senior EA role represents a clear career strategy, and a pathway for planning training and development. Bilingual (Spanish) is preferred.
The Senior EA role tends to expand to include important projects; therefore, the successful EA should have multi-faceted skills that include project management. Attending Executive Assistant training courses and EA seminars on a regular basis is a must for the EA's continuous professional development.
THE SENIOR EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT'S Curriculum Vitae (CV)
The senior EA's CV shows a high level of IT literacy and the ability to trouble-shoot technical problems. It also shows good numeracy skills, an understanding of budgets and strong decision-making abilities. The EA's CV would present evidence of their ability to work independently and with a high level of autonomy, such as representing the boss at meetings and events, as well as running the business in the boss's absence. The Senior EA's CV would also show that she/he has mentored peers and perhaps even managed a team.
BEING THE BOSS'S "RIGHT HAND PERSON"
Because of their understanding of the long-term goals of the organization and their dependability, accountability and proximity to management, EAs are considered to be key players in the organization. As the boss’s "right hand person" and his/her eyes and ears, EAs make up for gaps in their boss’s knowledge and memory.
Senior EAs assume a lot of power in organizations. As gate-keepers of the executive's time, they ensure that the executive remains sufficiently accessible, while keeping him/her on track with their daily objectives. As confidantes, EAs are discrete and maintain strict confidentiality. They have excellent verbal and written communication skills and often draft written communication in the guise of their executive. Many work similarly anti-social hours as the boss and it's not unusual for them to attend to an emergency at 1 o'clock in the morning.
THE SENIOR EA's KNOWLEDGE BASE
In addition to the above attributes and expectations, senior EAs should have a general understanding of construction, health and safety, human resources procedure, and the basics of public relations, such as how to deal with the press. Senior EAs should also understand their executive's statutory responsibilities in order to ensure that they are met.
The EA is relied upon to develop and maintain systems and procedures, and translate protocols. A basic understanding of corporate law and governance would help EAs to effectively support the Board of Directors; therefore, corporate governance is an important skill to develop.
Other required attributes:
- a good communicator
One of the most important requirements of the EA skill-set is IT literacy. At the very least, EAs should have advanced-level skills in Word for Windows and Microsoft PowerPoint. And at least an intermediate level knowledge of Microsoft Excel.
Other duties (included but not limited to):
- reading, monitoring and responding to your boss's email,
- answering calls and liaising with clients competently,
- preparing correspondence on your boss's behalf,
- delegating work in your boss's absence,
- assisting your team
- managing your boss's electronic diary,
- planning and organizing meetings,
- organizing travel and preparing complex travel itineraries,
- attending meetings on your boss's behalf
- taking action points and writing minutes,
- preparing papers for meetings,
- taking dictation,
- planning, organizing and managing events,
- conducting research,
- drafting communications on your boss's behalf,
- preparing presentations,
- managing and reviewing filing and office systems,
- preparing updates for intranet,
- typing documents,
- sourcing and ordering stationery and office equipment,
- managing projects,
- managing an Assistant.
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