Executive assistants work side-by-side with upper management in most corporations. In addition to the normal administrative tasks that might be handled by an entry-level assistant or secretary, executive assistants are trusted with many complex duties that can make for a very rewarding career path. The CFO Leadership Program offers many lessons that pertain to your career as an executive assistant and beyond.
Good executive assistants are in demand. As long as there are companies with CEOs and other high-level decision-makers, there will be a need for your services as an executive assistant. In many cases, executive assistants are the “face” of executives and perform many business functions in lieu of the executive.
As an executive assistant, you have a variety of daily tasks to complete. Sometimes, you even have to attend meetings in the executive’s absence and speak directly on behalf of the executive you represent. There is definitely a lot of responsibility that comes with being an executive assistant that must be present in addition to the normal duties performed in this role.
Some common executive assistant tasks include:
Producing information and reports by transcribing, formatting, and copying text, data, and graphics. These may be prepared for the executive or they may be produced on the executive’s behalf for meetings or seminars.
Reading correspondence addressed to the executive and taking action on this correspondence when necessary.
Maintaining the executives schedule and making adjustments as necessary for pressing matters.
Ensuring that the executive’s equipment is always performing at its best. For example, if the executive is having difficulty with his computer, it will be your responsibility as an executive assistant to make sure this issue is fixed promptly. This also means making sure the executive’s office supplies are fully stocked at all times. A basic class in computer networking is a good way to diversify your skill set even further.
Organizing and possibly overseeing team projects at the behest of the executive. The more time you spend working for a particular executive, the more responsibility you are likely to inherit directly from him or her. This increased responsibility could make you one of the most powerful people in the building on a given day as the executives themselves are often out of the office. How to Lead, Coach, and Manage a Team is full of useful information about taking charge of a team project successfully.
As an executive assistant, you are often exposed to confidential company information that most employees outside the inner circle of upper management are unaware of. It is your duty to protect this information and not share anything you may hear in a meeting or directly from the executive you work for with any other employees in the building.
Skills & Tools
You will spend a lot of time in front of a computer screen. You may be answering emails, drafting reports, creating a memo, or even drafting a speech for the executive. It’s important to have a solid grasp of common computer software such as Microsoft Office.
Microsoft Office 2013 Training Tutorial teaches you the basics of using the Microsoft Office suite if you are not already familiar with this program.
You should be well versed in all of the programs within the Microsoft Office suite (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint specifically), but you want to pay special attention to PowerPoint. As an executive assistant, you will often be required to create PowerPoint presentations for the executive that he or she can use in board meetings. You can learn more about using PowerPoint effectively in PowerPoint Made Easy.
Although you are not considered a manager as an executive assistant, you take on many of the duties a manager typically would. Having an understanding of basic management principles is always a good idea.
Managers are often trained on proper communication techniques. This allows them to direct subordinates without offending them. It also ensures that their message gets across clearly to other employees who may not be as knowledgeable in a particular subject matter. Learn Boundaries, Communication & Assertiveness Skills helps you get your thoughts across clearly without sounding bossy or insensitive.
A business background is also a good idea. Especially when you are required to attend meetings on behalf of the executive, it is helpful to understand the concepts and terms that may be discussed during the meeting. The Basics of Business is a quick overview of common business practices and will make you feel much more comfortable when sitting in a room full of high-level executives.
Writing skills are also important to the executive assistant. Since you will be drafting letters and reports on behalf of the executive, it’s important to write intelligently; even about topics you may not be familiar with yourself. The Technical Writing and Editing course details the concepts required to write the high-level, technical reports used in the business world today.
Time management is equally as important. Your executive is on a tight schedule and will often pass projects on to you, even if your schedule is already full. Learning to effectively manage your time ensures that you are maximizing your workday and providing the executive with the best service possible without running yourself ragged.
Being employed as an executive assistant is an exciting opportunity that affords you benefits not normally enjoyed by employees of similar pay levels. It is a lot of work, but you often get opportunities for advancement much sooner because those who make the hiring decisions see you in action on a daily basis.
If you are a well-rounded executive assistant who gets the job done quickly and correctly, you may find yourself in a managerial position before you know it. You should work hard to complement your existing skill set with additional skills that may be required of you as an executive assistant; giving yourself the best possible opportunities for advancement.