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Why AI will never oust the Executive Assistant


There’s a new buzzword in town: ChatGPT. Personally, I’m getting a bit tired of hearing about it, says Adam Fidler, founder of Adam Fidler Academy. We’ve had scores of emails from Executive Assistants (EAs) and Personal Assistants (PAs) all over the world asking how ChatGPT and, more collectively, artificial intelligence (AI), will affect their roles…


Interestingly, my views on artificial intelligence, technology and other forms of automation, vis-à-vis the EA role, remain pretty much as they have always been. My well known ‘black box/ red box’ analogy, which I have been teaching since 2011, simply identifies, predicts and warns business support staff of how elements of their jobs would be subject to automation. It also addresses how their managers are becoming more self-sufficient.

The topic of why AI will never oust the Executive Assistant is popular with the academy students

That model remains one of the most popular topics we teach our students at Adam Fidler Academy. Their eyes still light up when they see it. It’s also the model that leaders and CEOs attending our sessions find the most memorable. The world has moved on enormously since I first started educating EAs, but I am still confident in my assertions about how, and why, AI will never completely eradicate the need for good leadership, good management – and exceptional business support.

Although AI can successfully undertake complex processes, research and analytics, it doesn’t mean that EAs who take the right steps to stay relevant are at risk of being replaced. I stress that only EAs who have broader scope and responsibility will survive the ‘long game’ in the ever-changing commercial world.

‘Acid test’ questions for every EA to consider now

Start thinking about where AI could impact your role and identify areas that won’t be replaced by AI.

  • What do you spend most of your time on, excluding repetitive, high-volume and processing type activities?
  • What are you responsible for and take ownership of?
  • How do you evidence and demonstrate your management and leadership qualities?
  • Where, perhaps through projects, do you initiate, create, or take the lead?
  • How do you support and act as a role model for your organisational culture?
  • What aspects of your job demonstrate human skill versus something that could be done by artificial intelligence?

These are tough questions. And, I fear, that many people who call themselves EAs still spend far too long on activities that could be automated. If your role is predominately high-volume, transactional work, then now is the time to assert those human skills that cannot yet be done by AI.

Contact Adam Fidler Academy

Adam Fidler is our career development columnist – read more of his excellent columns.