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A day in the life of a PA

Do you want to know what a typical day involves for a senior PA? Find out here as a PA to senior board members tells us what their role entails.

Describe the main responsibilities of your role?
PA role to the MD, Human Resources, Marketing, H&S, Website development, (and others)

How would an average day start?
Check emails. Deal with urgent issues. Plan day according to priorities.

What is your favourite part of your job?
The unpredictability. I like the fact that when I come to work in the morning I’m never totally sure what I will end up doing that day. My role is varied and includes a lot of problem solving. This can be stressful, and though not for everyone, this is the kind of work life I enjoy. Doing a regular, predictable daily grind is not in my nature.

What is the hardest/most difficult part of your job?
Also the unpredictability! Though this is the challenging part of my job, it is what makes things interesting too. One minute I’ll be organising the work Xmas party, the next project managing the company’s website re-design, the next interviewing a candidate for employment. Occasionally this can tip over into stress, at which point a level head needs to kick in and prioritise and not be phased by workload/demands/deadlines.

What do you feel are the key skills needed to be good at your job?
Ability to multi-task. Good interpersonal skills – As the bridge between other staff/clients etc and your boss this is vital. A level head and ability to prioritise, Organisational aptitude. Ability to think laterally. Out-going/outspoken personality. This job would not suit a wall-flower! Initiative is important if you have to make a decision in your boss’s absence on their behalf. Reliability – You must be able to be trusted not just to get the job done, and done accurately (also going the extra mile at times), but to be trusted with confidential information too.

How and why did you get started in the industry/profession?
An interest in design led me to work for the Conran group for a few years. I enjoyed this environment and the people it attracts. I left there and joined Breezefree when I met the company’s MD socially, and realised I had the skill-set he was looking for in his company.

What advice would you give someone wanting to become a PA?
Be prepared for anything! You need to be able and willing to take on any task thrown your way (especially in a small/medium sized business). And it will usually require urgent attention, so a calm, but methodical approach is essential. When looking for employment, you also need to think in terms of you interviewing the person who you will be PA to, as much as it is the other way round. If your personalities don’t gel, it won’t work. As a rule of thumb, if it’s someone you couldn’t imagine having a drink with down the pub they’re probably not right for you.

What do you think the next step in your career would be?
I am happy where I am at the moment, but having worked in several fields within my role at Breezefree, I think the Human Resources path would probably be the one I would wish to pursue in the future.

What do you feel are the key issues that will affect the PA profession/sector in 2011?
Employing a PA may seem like an extravagant luxury in this current economic climate. However, I would argue that having a versatile multi-tasker on the team is actually economical, as responsibility for tasks which in more economically robust times might result in employing a new member of staff who might not actually be fully employed, can often be tasked to a PA instead.

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