An executive assistant’s work is similar to that of an administrative assistant or a secretary.
Their work is to support usually an executive officer by handling or supervising office duties. The difference is that an executive assistant is specifically an organisational professional who provides administrative support to an executive officer in a company.
An executive assistant is also responsible for managing the schedules and communications of key executive officers in the company.
They prioritise emails, phone calls and arrange meetings, as well as record minutes of meetings and business events. When employees, clients and other external partners call on the chief executive officer (CEO), he/she is the first point of contact.
Mrs Patience Benyarku, an executive assistant to the Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited, gives children an insight in her duties.
Courses to pursue
In Ghana, courses for an executive assistant have now become versatile.
At the senior high school level, one can study business-related subjects while a student at the tertiary level can pursue a management or an administration course.
In addition to that, offering short or certificate courses from other institutions is an advantage.
Skills of an executive assistant
An executive assistant needs to be good at typing, filing, and have excellent verbal and written communication skills, as well as excellent organisational skills.
He or she needs to have a good memory, the ability to multi-task, manage time and perform her role effectively. They should have good composure, and staying calm in stressful situations is a plus.
The work of an executive assistant differs in every institution. I provide a high-level administrative support to the CEO. I manage the CEO’s communications such as picking up phone calls from other executives and also plan the activities he has to undertake for the day, to make his job easier.
I also share my opinion on important issues and handle confidential and sensitive documents for the CEO. I assist the CEO in some instances to implement the company’s strategic objective.
Before the close of any working day, I ensure that the following day’s assignments to be performed are well planned. There could be days when unplanned emergency assignments are added to what is expected to be done for the day, and this is where excellent organisational skills come to the fore.
In a situation like this, I quickly attend to the task when the need arises and resume the previous task once the impromptu one ends.
Dos and Don’ts
You must be tactful in handling confidential documents.
Always be attentive and not miss any detail.
You should never lose your temper no matter the situation you find yourself in; always stay calm.