How is An Executive Assistant Role Different From the Typicall AA Role?

Julie Shenkman
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An executive assistant role is different from the typical administrative assistant role in that, instead of serving a team or department of people, the executive assistant serves only one person. This person is often a chief executive, which is why the term "executive assistant" came into vogue. A good executive assistant provides general administrative assistance as well as specialized help to meet the needs of a modern busy executive.

The typical AA role involves providing administrative support to a group of people. This administrative support often includes essential administrative work such as typing, filing, photocopying and organizing. Some administrative assistants also update websites, manage mailing lists, answer phones and help plan corporate events.

The executive assistant role can involve all of those tasks as well, but the EA role differs from the AA role in that an executive assistant is only responsible for providing administrative support to a single person. A good executive assistant is a right hand to a company president, vice president, CEO, COO or other member of the executive staff.

With that in mind, the typical executive assistant duties differ from the typical administrative assistant duties. An EA may also make photocopies and file documents, but a good executive assistant is more likely to be tasked with higher level administrative work, such as managing protocol for visiting guests, presenting a CEO with the most important news of the day and even monitoring a CEO's email inbox to make sure no message goes overlooked.

The best executive assistants become essential members of the executive team. They take notes in every high level meeting. They help prepare sensitive budget and payroll documents. They often accompany their executives on business travel. Some EAs have so many essential duties that they are assigned an AA of their own to take care of the basic administrative tasks.

Executive assistants also differ from general admin staff in that their thoughts and opinions often become more valuable. When you work side by side with a CEO or COO, a bond of trust forms. EAs are often asked to analyze and present information to executives along with their thoughts on the best choice of action. A good executive values an EA's input.

If you are considering transferring from an AA position to an EA position, keep in mind that your duties are likely to change. You will be responsible for helping a single person manage the demands of a high-level job, which often means working the same long hours as the typical CEO. However, many people find the executive assistant role to be a highly rewarding career. According to Forbes, the job of executive assistant was the fifth happiest job of 2014.

Executive assistants are part of a company's administrative team, but they are slightly separate from the general administrative staff. Because EAs work so closely with top-level executives, their duties are less directly administrative. Instead, executive assistants take on the role of a trusted right-hand assistant and provide specialized support to a member of the executive team.


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