An efficient, effective PA is the beating heart of any successful team and the key to the success of a senior executive.
Due to developments in technology, working practices and working environments, the PA role has changed dramatically over the years.
During my 15+ years’ experience of recruiting PAs, I’ve seen the role constantly evolve – allocations have increased, agile working has come into play for many firms and today's PAs need to keep up with these changes to continue to add value. It’s no longer enough to be a super minute taker or a speedy typist; firms within Professional Services are looking for much more.
What employers want from their PAs
We constantly hear from employers that they want PAs so take on more responsibility, to ‘bring more to the table’ and to be more commercially aware; this can take many forms including:
We’ve seen firms wanting PAs to take on small projects and really own these – projects such as firm moves, employer branding, employee engagement, reviewing business support structures, designing and implementing business support processes, coordinating large events (including managing budgets) – basically to take these projects away from their execs to free their time up for more strategic matters.
Client engagement and relationship building:
Being able to engage with clients is one of the biggest areas that firms are looking for their PAs to impact. Taking down an efficient message isn’t enough anymore, PAs must be able to deal with queries, liaise confidently with clients when requesting information and be able to build solid relationships with their peers within a client’s organisation.
Both internal and external networking is essential; PAs are the people who ‘get things done’ so the bigger your professional network is and the more you are connected, the better. This networking in turn also builds a far stronger commercial awareness of your firm and your sector.
So, as a PA in 2019, how do you stay ahead of the curve?
Embrace new technology:
It's easy to be nervous of any tech that claims to make you more efficient or to speed up processes; but don’t panic – the PA role is not as focused on office skills these days and is much more about ‘softer’ skills so embrace anything that can take the admin burden out of your role and free you up to be more operationally and commercially involved.
Work as far ahead of yourself as possible – you’ll add real value if you can spot potential future issues and head these off before they happen.
Network, network, network:
Join professional forums, reach out to your counterparts in your client organisations, start a PA network at your office – the more connected you are the better!
Love your clients:
Follow them on social media, research their businesses so you get to know them better, ask people internally about them, whatever it takes to get the inside track on your fee earners or execs clients – this will give you a real sense of confidence when liaising with clients in the future.
Take responsibility for your development:
Attend professional development events where you can, say yes to any training offered to you – we are never the finished article and there is always room to learn more!
Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions or make suggestions on how to improve things. As a PA you have a unique insight into how a firm runs and often get a bird’s eye view of the organisation, so if you have an idea; share it!
This article was written by Lara Mitchard from Ambition.
Ambition is a leading, global, boutique recruitment business serving specialist markets in London, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia. Here in the UK, they focus uniquely on professional services recruitment, giving them unrivalled expertise in this area.