Anna Walmsley, founder of DMC VIP Event Management in the south of France, shares her tips on how PAs can build their profile to ensure they are the lead decision maker
Before setting up my business as a destination management consultant (DMC), organising corporate VIP events and incentive travel in the South of France, Andorra and Barcelona, I worked in a senior PA position in Barcelona. Having been in your shoes, I understand how frustrating and undermining it can be when you have been chosen as the frontline decision maker, but others wanting to reach your boss, do not take this on board.
I also know just how difficult it can be, when companies, such as my own, underestimate the power in the hands of the PA. When I first set up my business, I studied the market in-depth, and quickly realised how I should reach my target audience. When it comes to organising corporate events such as seminars, fun team building activity weekends or celebrations, who are the individuals within a business that are going to shortlist my company, to present it to the financial decision-maker? Who do I really need to convince? My company can provide quality event management and be fully aware of the fundamentals behind why the service provided to your management team needs to be steadfast and tightly sealed in bringing together such a bespoke service. Who do I need to show that my company can provide a one-stop solution, which will take away the stress behind the scenes of pulling together such a service, and thus ensuring you get the credit?
I needed to be in contact, first and foremost with the PAs. I would act technically as your PA, your eyes and ears behind it all. Only once you were convinced would my company be taken seriously as a DMC, and be presented to the final decision maker who has the power to sign off the budget.
While I don’t need convincing of the power of a PA, here are some pointers for those who do not get that. Speaking from the ‘other side’, having worked as a PA/EA with various types of CEOs and companies, here are some tips on how to build your profile.
Have confidence in yourself – your boss has employed you to be the frontline decision maker, freeing up the time they fundamentally need, to concentrate on their priorities of running the company correctly. Be confident, take control of meetings if and where you see fit, insist you partake in projects you know would allow your boss more free time to concentrate on their own goals and objectives.
Take the time to understand your boss – with understanding comes an ability to anticipate your boss’ needs. The more you do that, the more you will gain their trust, and the more tasks will be delegated to you, ensuring that you are the first port of call for anyone trying to reach them. Once people understand that their only access to the boss is through you, they will begin to respect, and take your position much more seriously.
Be firm – if someone is trying to bypass you to get directly to your boss, stand your ground and insist you are their windshield. You will be the one to present their inquiry/project to your boss, and will get back to them with the first layer feedback, which may lead through to an initial contact with them.
Have your own business cards – having your own cards gives out a strong message that you are the main point of contact for your management team.