Executive officers are directly responsible for the high-level management of the company, and for steering it to success. With so much on their plate, most executives choose to employ an assistant to lighten their load, and ensure they can focus on the tasks that only they can complete. The assistant will usually be responsible for completing various admin tasks, and generally saving the executive time. Working as an executive assistant can be a rewarding and fascinating opportunity, providing access to the highest reaches of the company and its operations. This article will explain what executive assistants are usually responsible for, on a daily basis, and what skills they need to be successful in the roles.

Day to day activities

In general, executive assistants are required to complete any admin task that their boss asks them to. This can range from filing, through to answering phone calls or meeting clients. On top of this, they are usually responsible for organising the executive's diary, drafting letters, emails and reports, and for representing the executive at events and occasions at which they are unable to attend. As a result, executive assistants need to be able to maintain a professional demeanour at all times, and represent the executive that they work in the best possible manner. People in these roles also need to be excellent at multitasking, and have the ability to handle the stresses of having new tasks - which are often time consuming - delegated to them on a frequent basis. Executive assistants need to have a varied skill set to be successful - whether it's touch typing to speed up data entry and transcriptions, or excellent communication abilities to charm potential business partners while they are waiting for a meeting with the executive.

Executive roles usually vary depending on the seniority of the executive, and the size of the company itself. Some high-level employees at successful companies have multiple executive assistants working for them, meaning the assistants focus on different areas - so one will look after appointment scheduling, and the other will cover for public appearances, for example. On the other hand, smaller companies may require executive assistants to work for several different executives at the same time. While most executive assistant roles require individuals to carry out fairly similar tasks, it's important that candidates are flexible enough to mould the service they offer to meet the individual needs of the executive they are working for.

Growth potential

Some companies give executives good scope for progression, allowing them to move up the ladder until they are working with the highest level of management. An individual who proves to be reliable and effective while working for a regional manager, for example, is likely to catch the CEO's eye eventually, and working with top-level executives can be very rewarding financially. Alternatively, executive assistants work so closely with senior management that they are often inspired to start their own businesses. The role allows individuals to gain a unique understanding of business principals and the internal operations of successful businesses.