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How can a Personal Assistant stand out?


 A Personal Assistant plays a vital role in the smooth operations of an organisation. A PA has many  responsibilities ranging from managing administrative tasks, scheduling appointments, organising meetings and events, and communicating with clients and stakeholders. To stand out as a PA, you need to possess certain skills and qualities, and to excel in your duties. Natalie Richardson, an Executive Assistant at London South Bank University talks about what it takes to stand out as a Personal Assistant.

PA of the Year - Natalie Richardson

Natalie Richardson (left) receiving her PA of the Year 2018 award at the PA Life Awards.

I started my administration career as a Receptionist and over the last 25 years I have risen from Receptionist to Secretary to PA and Executive Assistant. For the past 12 years I have worked in a senior capacity as a Management and Board Secretary and Executive Assistant at Director and C-Suite Level. I am now a multi award-winning and respected administrator who advocates for this industry and likes to help other Assistants to progress.

It took me a while to think of my job as my career and to see what I do as my career of choice. But I can now say that I have found a perfect fit in this career for my skills and personality. I’m extremely versatile and roll with the changes, work proactively and efficiently and most of all I do it with constant approachable, friendly manner.

Natalie’s top tips for how to stand out as a Personal Assistant

Stay true to yourself

My top tips for standing out within your organisation is not to lose yourself and your ‘softer side’ in the role when you are pulled in all different directions. I believe that my resilience and quiet ‘get on with it’ attitude compliments my organisational skills and makes me an accommodating PA/EA.

Whatever your title is, the foundations of being a good assistant include these core skills:

Be organised and prioritise

Having excellent organisational skills – essential for a PA to succeed. You must be able to prioritise tasks, manage time effectively, and ensure that deadlines are met. Good communication skills are also critical, as you need to interact with different people and convey information accurately.

Be proactive

A proactive attitude can help a PA stand out. Instead of waiting for instructions, you can anticipate the needs of your boss and take the initiative to complete tasks. This can help in building trust and confidence in your abilities. Build up your relationship with your Exec/Director/Manager and be their right-hand person. After all, you are there to ease their day so that they can work efficiently too.

Keep on learning and developing your skills

An assistant who is willing to learn and grow can also make an impression. Be open to feedback and take on new challenges. This can lead to professional development and increased responsibilities within the organisation. I have become involved with many networks and have been on external project groups including Mentoring opportunities and entering Awards to show my ability to promote myself and my career. I get involved with projects at work and look to make things more efficient all the time, providing opportunities for our PA network to connect and learn.

In summary

You can stand out by being yourself whilst keeping the cogs moving, being an ally, and doing it all with flair! By doing this, you will become a valuable asset to your organisation and can build a successful career in the field. I find that by getting involved in many different tasks and projects gives me a chance to steer my career to where I want it to take me. It’s important for me to be able to work with others in my authentic way, that’s the only way for me to perform at my best.

You can connect with Natalie on LinkedIn

Have you discovered our series of PA Profiles – interviews with successful Assistants?