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A personal assistant, or personal aid, is someone who assists in daily business and personal tasks.

For example, a businessman or businesswoman may have a personal assistant to help with time and diary management, scheduling of meetings, correspondence and note taking. The title of a business personal assistant is often shortened as "PA". There are also personal assistants who work specifically for disabled people, and whose salaries may be paid by an individual or by social services on an individual's behalf. Families in which both parents work may also employ personal assistants, often referred to as household managers. The role of a personal assistant can be varied.

Contents

Role

Personal Assistants are now key players in all major corporations globally. The role of a business PA has developed enormous responsibility. In most cases, individual PAs are now seen to have managerial or executive status over other employees in the office. With this seniority comes responsibility, and PAs are increasingly operating in direct support of their bosses' operation of his/her duties. The primary duty remains the management of their bosses' time by scheduling appointments, management conferences and travel arrangements, as well as co-ordination of all demands to achieve the maximum effectiveness of the PA's day. Routine duties remain, but senior PAs often have a junior to screen incoming calls, check emails, review documentation, send mail, do basic research, schedule reservations, and book travel and meetings.

Senior PAs are sometimes called Executive Assistants. With a move to home working, there has been a recent growth in the use of Virtual Assistants (VAs). These people often work for several executives in one company or on a consultancy basis for various business leaders. A Senior PA may from time to time act as proxy for the executive, representing him/her in meetings or communications.

Business PA job duties can range from important tasks such as attending management meetings, briefing juniors, and giving executive opinions, to contract negotiations, project management, staff management and training, and HR issues. Duties may also include lesser but equally essential daily tasks, such as shopping and collecting personal items such as dry cleaning. The latter reflects a regular confusion shared by the media about the role of a PA. Gareth Osborne, the Director General of the Association of Personal Assistants (APA), when challenged on a TV breakfast show and asked if his PA collected his laundry, said, "Yes, but I also collect hers; it depends who is doing the more important task at the time!"

A PA is his/her employer's "go to" person. The job has a wide range of requirements and can often be extremely demanding, as employers normally expect their assistants to be there whenever they need them.

To do their jobs well, all personal assistants must apply excellent organizational skills, tact, diplomacy, effective communication skills, as well as maintain confidentiality in sensitive matters and display excellent judgement. These are the same "soft" skills required for many other professional roles, such as middle management, public relations, and high-level administrative assistance. The best personal assistants have the ability to anticipate their employer's needs and take care of them before they are asked to do so.

In a survey of the Managing Directors of the Top 5,000 businesses in the UK, they concluded that having a PA made them more than 32% more effective

Other types of personal assistance

People who cannot afford to hire their own personal assistants to run errands or answer phone calls full-time can hire a concierge company or a part-time assistant i.e.My Personal Assistant.Most companies offer secretarial personal assistance as well as basic assistant services like research, scheduling, travel arrangements, and more. Costs of a part-time employee can end up exceeding the amount it would have cost to hire a full-time employee. Other companies charge a flat monthly fee for personal assistant services, based upon the number of requests expected to be placed each month. In addition to the personal assistant services that are provided with the membership, other incentives such as local discounts, concierge services, dining recommendations and overall knowledge and expertise may even outperform the skills of a regular personal assistant staff member.

Smaller companies, especially start-up and real estate development companies, may desire the services of a Personal Assistant to "manage" an individual executive or to assist in the office as the new company goes about setting up their new business. These Personal Assistants may develop great skills at the "birth" of a new company and have opportunities for advancement. Other Personal Assistants will have garnered valuable knowledge and experience if they choose to move into other positions.

Career development

Some business personal assistant jobs may "morph" into other positions within the organization. Some business PAs are asked to consider full-time positions elsewhere in the company, depending on the level of ambition and education required/desired. Some employers will not see the potential for a Personal Assistant immediately and thus the Personal Assistant will remain in that position until other positions become vacant

See also

  • Au pair
  • Body man, American political jargon for a personal assistant to a politician or political candidate
  • See Gofer or Assistant, as in Man Friday, Boy Friday or Girl Friday, a personal assistant or servant, especially one who is particularly competent or loyal.
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