Money For Lunch – What are the Job Functions of a Executive/PA/Secretary?

What are the Job Functions of a Executive/PA/Secretary?

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Retraining yourself to a new job role can help you reach better income potential. So why not look at being a PA?

The role of the Personal Assistant (PA) and the secretary are ones that can have many areas of similarity but also some responsibilities that can be quite different.  The job functions always depend on the nature of the company and what it has needs for but there are some general functions that most roles will include.

Job functions of a secretary

The secretary is the first port of call for the person or team that they work within.  They are the person who answers the phone calls, organises who customers need to speak to and handles the various meeting arrangements.  They are the person who will call a customer to organise a meeting or to advise of a change to arrangements.

The role of the secretary is to coordinate the flow of information through the department also with other departments to ensure everyone works efficiently and cohesively.  They are often also responsible for incoming and outgoing mail, ensuring these reach the right people and are sent on time.

Other aspects of the job can involve the meeting and greeting of visitors to the business.  It may also involve taking notes at meetings.

In terms of job progression, secretaries can often move on to become personal assistants.

Job functions of a PA

The personal assistant often does many of the same jobs as the secretary but usually for one person or a small team.  They will often be the right hand of a manager or upper management person who relies on them to organise their work schedule.

Part of the role is often organising work-related travel which can involve hiring vehicles, plane tickets and hotels.  It may also involve a degree of organising corporate events such as meetings, retreats and conferences.  They will be required to work with people outside the company to coordinate the various elements to make these events happen.

The PA is often the person who conducts research for their manager to provide the required information.  This might mean putting together briefs, presentations and background research.  It may also mean attending meetings and take notes on what happens.

Depending on the nature of the company, the role of the PA can also involve taking on some of their manager responsibilities, especially if they are away or travelling for business.  They can act as the manager’s deputy, holding down the fort while they are not available.

Executive Assistant

PA Jobs are seen as being more senior to Secretary Jobs. However, the highest paid jobs in this sector are the Executive PA and Executive Assistant. To progress your career to an Executive PA, it often means good solid work experience which also involves studying an Executive PA Diploma in London or around the country. This will add experience to a PA, and allow them to progress along the career path.

Working life

For a secretary, the typical working week is around 35-40 hours with days starting anywhere from 8 am onwards and ending around 6 pm.  Sometimes there is need to work outside there hours if there is a special event taking place.  Flexi-time can sometimes work in these roles, especially if there is more than one secretary in the company.

The working hours for a Personal Assistant are very similar.  Most tend to work a standard working week of around 35-40 hours and most companies operate around standard office hours.  Some overtime or late work may be required if events are taking place.  Flexible hours may be possible, depending on company structure.

The role is one that has adapted to online working and virtual assistants are a form of PA who work online and can work for various companies.  Some secretarial work is also now available on the internet.  Both of these types of roles are usually self-employed and freelance basis where you work for different people on separate contracts.


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