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What makes a great executive assistant
I’m EA to the Executive Director Information Development, eTQC Program Director, and Chief Medical Information Officer, at Alfred Health in Victoria. I was thrilled to receive the 2016 Page Personnel Executive Assistant of the Year award – it’s a privilege to be working with three such supportive executives, as well as all the other fantastic EAs and PAs at Alfred Health.
Over the years, I’ve learnt some valuable lessons about what it takes to be an exceptional executive assistant. If you aspire to be a great EA, here are some solid starting points.
Be impeccably organised
My typical morning begins with the ‘chores’, as I like to call them. This includes turning on her computer and opening her Outlook, making sure she’s ready for the day (we are paperless, an initiative I implemented, so there are no folders, papers or calendar print outs).
I return to my desk and begin sorting her emails. This is a daily task that sees me categorising, responding and cutting through the ‘noise’, to allow her to concentrate only on what’s important.
Through maintaining excellent organisational skills, you’ll help facilitate outstanding workflow and efficiency, as well as ensure your executive’s productivity is at its peak. Together, you can maximise efficiency and achieve superior outcomes in any organisation.
As part of my daily responsibilities, I draft 90% of reports, edit proposals, provide every aspect of the day-to-day administrative EA office-management duties. I’m secretary to six Governance Committees and two Exec Committees, and I’m also heavily involved in recruitment, mentoring, event management, project management, and planning. To stay current, I conduct professional development activities and research, learn from others, design and implement improved processes. I’m also active on professional networking sites like LinkedIn.
Learning ‘outside the box’ skills and implementing new initiatives are a great way to add something special to your role and get noticed in the workplace.
Guide and support others
At work, I strive for integrity every day by using high emotional intelligence; technology, innovation, patience and empathy. I use my extensive information, knowledge and experience to create a well-oiled machine. It means so much to me to help other EAs and admin staff to become the best they can be through mentoring and ongoing support.
Information sharing is key – by guiding, encouraging, teaching, and supporting peers, you can help them improve their own professional outcomes.
Be personal AND professional
Looking after my execs’ mental and physical wellbeing is just as important as ensuring they are professionally on track. This means making sure they always have breaks between meetings (it can be done – even for the busiest executives), drink water, and eat regularly. Understanding that personal wellness goes hand in hand with professional achievement will go a long way for your own success, as well as your executive’s.
Sayings I live by in my work life
· ‘Stand behind your role’
· ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you have’
· ‘It’s the small things as much as the big things’
· ‘Eat the frog’ (As Mark Twain once said, ‘If it’s your job to eat a frog, it’s best to do it first thing in the morning. And if it’s your job to eat two frogs, it’s best to eat the biggest one first.’
· ‘Use your “please pass the salt” voice’ - your brand voice is the tone, language, and style you use to communicate with the rest of the world. Keep it polite (like you would at a dinner table), and you’ll be well-equipped to handle any scenario professionally.
Want more great advice? Check out the rest of our articles here!
Being a stand-out executive assistant means going above and beyond in the workplace by:
- Being extremely organised and keeping your executives organised
- Being innovative and involved
- Guiding and supporting colleagues
- Maintaining a professional demeanour at all times