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The 2016 PA: Listen & Learn

This past Tuesday (27th September) I wandered down to the Soho Hotel at 7.45am for our very own Business Executive Academy Round Table event, once again finding myself the only male amongst twenty seven other females. It’s a tough job… My brief for the morning was simple. To listen and learn from our candidates, BEA delegates and the ‘star’ PA’s in attendance.

Four topics were up for discussion but the feeling in the room was that topic #1 was more than deserving of the whole allocated hour. That topic was The 2016 PA and conversation swiftly turned to the job spec vs the ‘actual’ requirements of the role. All on my table were in agreement that it was impossible to pin point their individual roles on a piece of paper, and that personality and chemistry at interview with a prospective boss were key to securing a role.

There was an infectious sense of optimism as the attendant’s spoke of the potential to positively influence and help their bosses. That influence was only to be earned with hard work and trust that would likely take time gain. Celebrity PA, Donna Couling added that going above and beyond what was expected between 9 & 5 was essential to this and had always been a prime focus of hers, building up a black book of contacts to assist in moments of need.

The bell rang after 15 minutes and we all moved tables but the focus remained on The 2016 PA. Long term Angela Mortimer Plc. friend and EUMA PA Chairman, Elizabeth Wakeling raised a key point for our younger candidates, declaring that everyone’s bosses would have the same worries and problems as they would do, and that they must use their Emotional Intelligence to deal with these situations accordingly.

Before the bell rang for a second time Elizabeth closed with another key point advising that nothing in business is ever personal – if you have to cry in the toilet, you have to cry in the toilet, but remember to always present a positive front for your boss as you are the reflection of him or her within your prospective offices.

A third table move presented two particularly interesting working situations. One of the candidates known to her colleagues as ‘the glue’, acting essentially as an air traffic controller for a team of eight, constantly having to work on streamlining their processes, always focussing on pinpointing strengths and weaknesses within the team and directing the work towards those strengths where necessary.

The 2nd candidate a PA within Private Equity who wasn’t in charge of a particular person or team, but more specifically would always work as a PA to whatever ‘deal’ was on at that particular moment in time. Hearing that, I looked to my left at Gizelle Thorpe (who was sat next to me). We both gave each other a knowing look, as if to say: ‘that sounds pretty cool’.

Slightly mind blown by these two unique situations, ‘we’ or should I say ‘they’ (as I was contributing very little at this point) concluded that being ‘bossy’ at work wasn’t necessarily the worst trait, as it consistently proved to be important in terms of helping the pair get things done in such high pressure environments. The bell rang again and I decided I wasn’t going anywhere. I wanted to hear more.

I mentioned we were meant to discuss four topics over the hour but rather bypassed #2 & #3 in favour of The 2016 PA . Progression was #4 on the list and felt more than worthy of 15 minutes exploration. No one round the table seemed overly concerned with the future and gave the impression that progression within a work context was something of an inevitable that was a matter of when and not if. The dynamic duo, already redefining their own roles were solely focussed on the problems of today, which they knew if taken care of correctly would deal with the opportunities of tomorrow.

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