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The Evolution of The Personal Assistant

There are fewer roles more important in a company than the personal assistant (PA). Anyone who has been in a privileged position to have access to one, will know the wealth of knowledge, contacts and help they can bring. In many ways, they are the glue that holds everything together.

Those who believes that a PA is purely for expenses, diary management or just to make corporate bookings, is gravely mistaken.

This traditional role has taken on many iterations over the years. From the ‘Mad Men’ days of its secretarial status, to the all-encompassing role of enterprise in 2020.

Here we look at some of the ways the role of a PA has been redefined, and the essential business assets they bring.

PA in 2020

Being a PA in 2020 is a great career path, for anyone who is; organised, great at multitasking and gifted with people. But more than that, it’s a role for men and women who are business savvy with a desire to get on in business.

This is a job that requires great interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to manage a plethora of tasks, from corporate bookings to setting up meetings.

Where once it was about managing a senior member of staff, today there’s a diverse set of skills required.

As such, PA’s are rewarded with many career perks and a higher-than national salary of £32k, although this can extend up to £70k in some roles.

The Revolution is Here

The role of the PA has been redefined over the years. In these tech-savvy times, it requires a certain business acumen to get by. Gone are the necessities of typing skills and filing.

Today many who enter the industry do so with high ambitions and a career path in place. Being a PA is a great stepping stone into managerial roles within an organisation. After all it touches on many of the core skills required; managing suppliers for corporate bookings, hosting company presentations and events management too.

Digital Difference

But most of all, digital advances have redefined the way the modern PA works.

Yes, great organisation is still required, but thanks to laptop calendars and electronic filing, it’s much easier to coordinate.

This means the traditional role of being a PA has been freed up, allowing them to take on more meaningful tasks. This can include management of company events, annual stakeholder conferences and trade shows. Traditional skills like group corporate bookings are still required, but just in a different way.

Some PAs have even gone virtual. Thus, not having to be tied to one person or role, and allowing the opportunity to stretch their skills and diversify.

Gina, a 36-year old personal assistant from London, said:

“After years’ of working for a managing director as their PA, I moved into the world of being a virtual PA. Technology has changed the role, which can now be remote – this is a great benefit to working mums like me, who need some flexibility.

“My PA friends who still work for large organisations have been able to climb the ladder and move into new roles. This was unheard of when we entered the industry 15 years’ ago, testament to how far the profession has come. Businesses largely recognise the contribution that a PA can bring, and want to keep good employees within the business.”

Career Progression

One of the biggest changes in the PA world has been the opportunity to progress one’s career. HR teams actively look for PAs that want to have a great impact on their business, and grow their role in the years ahead. Today being a PA is often seen as a great way to get into a company.

With the amount of diverse skills needed as a PA, there’s plenty of opportunity to branch out. Corporate bookings lends itself to corporate travel management, managing executives is an essential skill for HR, and organisation is a pre-requisite for any strategic-led role.

Many start-ups and entrepreneurs hire a PA, not purely for admin, but to be their number two. Offering sound business advice, as well as being able to facilitate introductions and set up networking events, it’s a job that draws upon all the very best assets that come with a PA. If you’re an ambitious energetic type, then this is one of the best ways to fast-track your career.

As a final thought, in a survey of 1,700 PAs, 16 per cent said their boss regularly took their recommendations on business decisions. If nothing else, this shows the growing influence and importance of the modern PA in business.

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