ARE YOU READY TO BE PA? Part 1
KNOW IF THIS CAREER IS RIGHT FOR YOU
It’s sometimes difficult to know whether you can be a Personal Assistant or not, especially if you do not have prior experience. However, you can utilise some of your skills and experience and determine whether they are transferrable in the office environment.
Remember that a Personal Assistant or a PA is a professional providing support to a person of influence in the office such as a director, a manager who is looking after a small team or even a CEO. In larger organisations, PAs look after second tier management, while an Executive Assistant supports first tier management. The terms are sometimes interchangeable, but more often than not, the duties of the EA are more complex as the role of the person the EA supports, as compared to what a PA does.
Here are some of the common duties and responsibilities of a PA (not limited to this list, but will definitely include the following):
Meeting Management. Some of the things you will be asked to do are to take minutes of the meeting, circulate agenda and compile agenda papers, create the minutes and proof-read/edit, organise the actual meeting logistics such as booking a venue, organising catering, preparing name plates or name tags, preparation of presentation material such as PowerPoint presentations, set-up the equipment for the presentation, etc.
Diary Management. Depending on how busy your manager or boss is, diary management can be simple or complex. You will be expected to know what meetings are to be booked into the diary, ensuring you do not double book or have clashing meetings, being practical about booking meetings needing travel or whether it is wise to do back-to-back meetings, creating time or space in the diary for you to catch up with your manager, or even booking some time for the manager to do other things apart from attend meetings. Take note that some managers prefer to do their own scheduling but it helps to keep an eye on it as well, as they may find it too overwhelming if they need to simply book everything in without checking availability.
Travel Management. Your manager may ask you to also assist with travel arrangements which may include liaising with a travel agent, or getting you to do the bookings online, managing travel itinerary, booking accommodation and transport/shuttle, etc. When booking for overseas travel you need to be aware of VISA and other travel requirements, certifications like medical or government clearances, including being aware of time zone differences, the weather at the destination as this helps to plan on things to do or what to wear for business meetings, and some things of interest that your boss can consider doing when on business trip.
Records Management and Communications. Records management deals partly with handling paperwork, files and keeping them organised somehow. This also means looking after all the letters, emails, and other paperwork coming through the office and how you respond to their online, paper or verbal queries. Part of communications also mean that your manager may ask you to draft up letters of responses, reports or any other types of communication, for them to finalise later.
Other duties from time to time. While most managers limit (and should limit) your duties for “working hours only” tasks and those that are relevant to the business, sometimes PAs also have to perform other duties from time to time if these are inherently a part of what your boss does. For example, ordering flowers, picking up clothes from the dry cleaners, organising parties for their kids or family, making coffee, organising mail-outs or going to the post shop to post or pick up mail, etc. It’s up to you to negotiate these duties with your boss if you are comfortable.