How to Be a Successful Executive Assistant


Have you ever thought about becoming an executive assistant? The truth is, if a business owner or CEO wants their business to be successful, they need lots of helping hands to make it so. Help from an assistant is a great way for executives to be able to achieve the success they desire. There are going to be times when an assistant is needed, when an executive would be best placing their efforts and skills elsewhere. But, what makes a truly great executive assistant? Is it a role for anyone and everyone? Like all jobs, there are some personal attributes and skills that will help people to become better executive assistants than others. If you’ve been thinking about starting a career in this kind of role, you may want to read on to see if you fit the bill.

Highly organised

Are you the kind of person who would point out to friends and family that they won’t be able to make that doctor’s appointment on the 15th because Janine is visiting that day? Or are you constantly ensuring that people are at the right place at the right time? Being an executive assistant means you’re like the train station controller in the life of the executive. You will have a key role in ensuring the executive is in the right place at the right time, and that they don’t forget to send that certain email by 5PM on Thursday. You’ll be responsible for the smallest details, both in the office and in the life of whom you assist, so if you have a knack for being highly organised, you’re already on the right path.

You aim to serve

If you enjoy helping people achieve their goals and always aim to please, being an executive assistant could be the role for you. Being an executive assistant means that you aim to not just serve the company or organisation, but also the individual executive you are working for. You are helping them reach their goals, which in turn means you reaching your goal. If you don’t really like helping others to achieve what they want and need, you may need to find a different opportunity.

You personalise your service

Depending on who you work for, you will want to personalise your service to their needs. One executive may want you in sight at all times, able to be called upon at the drop of a hat. The next executive you work for may only want to see you once in the morning and have the rest of your communication be by phone. You will want to know what your executive prefers in regards to when they like to take their meetings and when they don’t want to be disturbed. Part of being a great executive assistant is being the right kind of assistant for who you are working for, and providing the exact service they need.

You know your boss better than they do

One of your roles will be to create and administer your employer’s daily schedule. Whether it’s planning meetings, phone conferences or booking flights (and ensuring they get to the airport in time), your job is to know exactly what the executive needs to do each day and when. You will also know when they are starting to over-commit, in which case you should cancel meetings or reduce the number of meetings and arrangements being agreed to. You will watch for when your boss starts to get over-worked, and in no time, you’ll know them better than they know themselves.

Be a great communicator

Having communication skills means more than being a great conversationalist. To be a great executive assistant, you need to be able to be a great communicator overall. Whether it’s face-to-face conversation, on a call, via email or via instant message, you should be able to communicate efficiently, coherently and effectively. If you know other languages fluently and this will benefit your executive and their clients, even better.

Savvy with technology

Technology is constantly and consistently changing at a rapid pace . Being able to know and understand the latest technologies in a variety of fields is going to keep you ahead of the game, and really give you that competitive edge when applying for jobs. You need to be able to know and understand all types of office equipment such as fax machines, phones, smartphones, computers with both Windows and Mac software, as well as tablets and programs such as email portals and various organisation software. As technology is always evolving, you’ll need to keep up to date with the latest releases, and be comfortable adapting to changes within already existing technology, as well as equipment that might be totally new to you.

Make your boss look good

As much work as you’re doing to ensure your boss gets the job done, it isn’t about you. Getting tasks done and attending meetings and conferences is to make your boss look good, not you. However, part of your goals as a successful executive assistant are to assist your boss and ensure they reach their goals. If they’re achieving and getting the job done, that means you’re getting your job done as well! You’re the face and voice of your executive most of the time, so being able to project the kind of reputation your executive is aiming for is an absolute necessity.

Be a great multi-tasker

Can you handle a number of jobs at once? Are you able to think on the go and multi-task a number of different projects at once? There will be times when you will need to think on your feet and get a number of tasks completed at once. Although it may be overwhelming, it’s always important to keep a level head, stay calm and focus on the tasks that need to be finished. If you can stay calm under pressure, this may indeed be the ideal role for you.

A rewarding career as an executive assistant

There are a number of factors and skills involved in becoming a successful executive assistant, and it can at times be challenging and stressful. Like many roles, networking and experience will certainly help you on your career path. If you think you have what it takes to become an executive assistant, it is certainly a career that can be highly rewarding, exciting and full of potential and variables to keep the job interesting.

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Gladys Mae


Gladys Mae serves as the General Manager and Head of Student Services at the International Career Institute. Gladys holds a degree in Mass Communication - Broadcast Media from the University of San Jose-Recoletos. She joined ICI in 2010 and has over the past 12 years been instrumental in providing leadership and guidance to staff and students alike. Prior to joining ICI Gladys led a multifaceted career with key roles in the banking and business process outsourcing industries.