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    PA Profile: Andy McGrath

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    When Andy McGrath, PA to director of television at ITV, gave us feedback on the magazine, saying he felt it was aimed solely at women (you can?t blame us, there are a lot of you ladies!), our interest was sparked. We sent Emma Cooke to meet him, to try and shed some light on being a male PA in a largely female-dominated world.

    ?I know we are in the minority but there are quite a number of male PAs/EAs in the UK ? not as many as in the US but we do have a presence.?
    You might imagine the job of PA to director of television is a life of glitz and glamour. And there are certainly elements of that ? when Andy arrived at our meeting place, he had just come from an event at The Cube [a ground-breaking restaurant in London], and was waxing lyrical about the incredible taster menu he?d enjoyed.
    He also revealed other perks of the job included attending events like the National Television Awards and the Brit Awards, along with meeting celebrities, including some of the judges of Britain?s Got Talent and The X-Factor.
    Yet Andy?s demeanour makes it impossible to be overly envious. Down-to-earth, approachable and more than a little chatty, he instantly puts you at ease in his company. He talks about the daily nitty-gritty of ?managing expenses, making sure the photocopier is working and keeping the stationery cupboard stocked?, and the overwhelming feeling is that Andy is not so different from any other PA.
    And that brings us to the crux of the matter. We spoke to Andy because we were intrigued by the idea of the male PA. An elusive breed, the male PA must surely be subject to a range of vastly different experiences. Attitudes must be different, working relationships much be different, everything must be so very different!
    But it seems not to be the case. His trials and tribulations are not so different from those of a female PA. Just like our female readers have mentioned, he knows the complexities of a PA?s relationship with the boss: ?Managing someone?s professional life is a responsible role. You?re a constant in their life, you?re the person they rely on to make it work and make it happen, so they don?t have to think about anything other than their job, but there is, and has to be, a switch-off point. Otherwise, as much as I love the role, you can be completely consumed by it.?
    Does Andy think being a PA is a particularly feminine role, or if it requires ?female skills?, perhaps accounting for the large number of women in the role? His answer is surprising, saying that he doesn?t think being a PA is particularly a ?man?s job? or a ?woman?s job?. He?s confident he has all the skills needed for the role, saying, ?Can a man multi-task? Absolutely! I can multi-task with the best of them,? and proceeds to entertain me by describing the looks on the faces of his colleagues as he talks on the phone, answers his boss, finds information on the computer, and all at the same time.
    Has he experienced any negativity as a male PA? Surely, there must be something that makes male PAs such a rarity! Andy replies: ?People expect PAs to be female, and sometimes people are quite intrigued meeting a male PA, but I?ve never experienced any negativity, whether over the phone or when meeting people. If anything, people are pleasantly surprised and quite keen to find out more about you.?
    Why then is there such a divide? At PA Life, in all our experience, we?ve only ever met a handful of male PAs, and yet for Andy it seems to be a non-issue. The answer becomes clear when he says: ?Secretary has the connotation of sitting at a typewriter and typing all day long. The role has evolved into so much more ? there?s more vibrancy, and a PA can do so many things within the job.?
    Being a PA is now so much more than what it was once thought to be. They?re not just secretaries, it?s a demanding, fulfilling role that can hold equal appeal to both men and women alike. It seems the times have changed. We just need to catch up.”
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    Molly Dyson

    Former Editor – PA Life

    All stories by: Molly Dyson