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Why being a pa is a career, not a job

The results of the National PA Survey 2015 were announced at office* on National PA Day.  62% of Personal Assistants feel a strong sense of loyalty to their bosses. Unfortunately, not all Assistants feel this level of loyalty or respect is reciprocated.Personal Assistants are a little like housewives with few fully appreciating the sheer scale of their remit until they are absent from their workplace. Some important questions to ask yourself.
 
  • Is your job description up to date or is it an inherited generic job spec full of clichés?
  • Is this job spec used as an appraisal tool for measuring progression or performance?
  • Does your boss and company view your role as a career with a valid pathway?
  • If not, have you spoken up and how are you driving the professionalism of your role?

If we find it difficult to articulate our role how can we expect others to fully grasp its complexities.  At the end of the day Managers want to hear about bottom lines and how you successfully planned and smoothly executed your teams’ success in achieving annual targets and ultimately ROI. There is so much more to us than tea and typing. Modern EAs and PAs are leaders and not helpers. We expand productivity and are brand ambassadors for our bosses, company and profession. The role we fulfil comes with accountability and responsibility and we are in effect the manager of our managers when it comes to time keeping. 

Unfortunately some managers don’t appreciate the competence, talents, and skills of their PAs. They don’t trust them enough to delegate the important but time-consuming tasks that take them off mission.  They are stuck in an old-school submissive secretary paradigm. It is up to you to professionalise your role. 

I reached a stage where I was fed up with the perception of my role.  I realised that if others were to take me seriously that I needed to act like other executives within my company. I put in a request for business cards, specific PA training (conferences/seminars) and also requested that my company pay my subscription to various PA magazine publications and my membership for networking PA Club associations. After all if you don’t ask, you don’t get.I entered several PA awards.  I wanted to highlight and reinforce to colleagues, friends and family that we take our roles seriously and deserve accolades like any other profession. 
 
The long-time goal for me is for PAs and EAs to get the respect and recognition they ultimately deserve in the work force. It would be great if people could acknowledge that for some of us we consider it a valid career choice and not just a job or a stepping stone on to greater things. There are some fantastic Assistants out there – some of them highly educated with degrees, masters and/or multi-lingual skills. Donna Karen started out as a PA and the world would not have known Elvis if it was not for PA Marion Keisker.  Being a PA is a valid career choice for any woman or man. 
 
I would encourage all Assistants to get on LinkedIn.  As Executive Assistants, our general knowledge and administrative expertise transcends all industries and our collaborative way of working stands us in good stead to bring value to any networking group.Poor communication, delegation skills and lack of information can hamper an Assistants overall ability to succeed.  The truth is that a PA is really a full partner in achieving business goals.   
I believe that Bonnie Low-Kramen said it best in her article: ‘The Top 10 Career Practices to Learn from Administrative Assistants’.“They are relentlessly adaptable. They love a challenge. They underplay their power. Making people happy is their goal. They read minds. They love to put out fires and bring order to chaos. They are master jugglers. They are hungry to learn. They are connected. They yearn to make a difference.”
 
 
Jennifer Corcoran is the Office Manager to Managing Directors within Ship Finance at Crédit Agricole CIB based in London. She joined EUMA in 2014 and considers herself to be a champion of the PA Profession.  She was awarded the title of “Networking PA of the Year” at The London PA Awards 2015 and was elected as the National Public Relations Officer for EUMA UK.  She was a finalist for Pitman’s SuperAchiever PA and SecsintheCity’s Social Media PA of the Year 2015.