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Once a Personal Assistant……?

My Career is Over!

One of the recurring fears that I hear from many of the delegates that attend my Executive PA training courses, in addition to the common “nobody recognises the importance of the Executive PA/ Executive Assistant role”, is the engrained belief that career wise being an Executive Personal Assistant / Executive Assistant is the end of the road.

Many delegates believe that the only progression that they can ever make is promotion within the narrow confines of the PA/EA world. They will not even try to apply for other roles in their own organisation or, heaven forbid, in another organisation.

How many times have we heard it said “..but Mandy is just a PA”? Too many times for my liking because nothing can be further from the truth.

Never Underestimate Yourself

My firm belief is that nobody should ever underestimate himself or herself and nobody should ever undersell themselves. All of my delegates, bar none, are incredibly intelligent individuals with clear skills and striking personalities.

I have trained a whole range of PAs / EAs who have multi varied backgrounds and qualifications. I have had delegates with MBAs, delegates studying for MBAs, delegates with 1st class degrees and delegates who entered their job straight from school. Each and every one has so many strengths; they just need to focus on these strengths and ignore the naysayers. That is what defines them – not their job title.

Listen, Observe, Read and Learn

The role of the Executive Personal Assistant gives the incumbent a prime opportunity to learn about business and the way things are done.

So much “high level” and “confidential” stuff comes across your desk / in-box on a daily basis. Don’t just be a post office – take the opportunity to read the material – you will soon discover that your Boss and others are not some super intelligent beings doing something that you are incapable of.

Many supervisors and managers have ended up in their jobs not through technical excellence but more through being in the right place at the right time, having a good network and, most importantly, being seen as good Leaders.

There is no reason that you cannot do the same .

Tips for Changing Direction

Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with loving your job as an Executive Personal Assistant / Executive Assistant. I have met some awesome PAs / EAs who absolutely love what they are doing and are fantastic at it.

But for those of you who do wish, one day, to possibly change direction here are a few simple tips

  1. Decide what you really want to do. What role would make you really happy?

  2. Do not apply for another job because you hate this one

  3. Observe people. How does your boss behave? Why do people like him/her?

  4. Understand yourself. Do an honest assessment of your own personality. Try some online personality tests eg. DISC

  5. Learn about Leadership skills and put them into practice

  6. Understand your organisations business vision and strategy

  7. Understand the wider business issues that your organisation is facing

  8. Network widely

  9. Make your career aspirations known. People are not mind readers.

  10. Never ever say “I will never get it. I am just a PA”

  11. Never underestimate yourself and never undersell yourself

The Art of the Possible

“Nice theory Richard” I hear you say.

Well I have to disagree. It is possible and it does happen.

When I was Business Integration Director for Homeserve plc in the UK I had a superb PA by the name of Cara Cranny. Cara supported a number of Directors and displayed all the right qualities for the role, predicted our needs, knew when to avoid us and knew exactly what the priorities where.

Cara however wanted to change direction and she took the initiative to apply for a totally different role within the organisation – she asked me to support her application which I had no hesitation in doing so; which I think slightly surprised her.

To cut a long story short Cara is now Area Service Manager – P&D South Coast at Homeserve plc. She can be seen on Linkedin

I am so proud of her achievements.

Do you agree that Executive PAs should not limit their aspirations and Just Go For It!<a href="" target="_blank">Take Our Poll</a>

About the Author

Richard Arnott lives in the beautiful city of Perth, Scotland and is a Director of Business Management Training Group Ltd Richard is the author and lead course trainer for the world renowned 5 day Advanced Certificate for the Executive Personal Assistant (ACEPAtm) and the 3 day Foundation Certificate for the Executive Personal Assistant (FCEPAtm)

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