As your role as executive or personal assistant evolves, it’s essential to take control of your professional development and understand how you can move beyond efficiently performing your core duties and create additional value for your employer.
The team at Criterion Conferences spoke to Kathryn Moir, EA to the Chief Executive, Australian Red Cross Blood Service. Kathryn provides comprehensive administrative services including regular communications with the organisation’s Chair and Board members and providing high quality professional administrative services to the Executive team and internal and external customers. Kathryn was also the very deserving winner of CEO Magazine’s Executive Assistant of the year 2018.
Here’s what she had to say:
What is the changing perception of the EA and what can aspiring EA’s learn from this?
The perception of the EA will vary based on the organisation you are in and the person that you work alongside. The traditional view of an EA’s role still exists in some businesses and not everybody fully understands our capacity. More progressive organisations, like the one I’m lucky to be a part of, understand that an EA is really a strategic partner to the person they work with. Advances in technology has been one of the biggest changes I’ve witnessed in my time as an EA — it’s replaced a lot of the manual work we do and allowed us more time to focus on supporting the business in more meaningful ways.
I see an EA’s role as a position of privilege and operating within a senior level of the business and assisting with strategic decisions. In my day-to-day work at the Blood Service, everything that I do is geared towards our Chief Executive, Shelly Park — making her day run as efficiently, taking away the noise and also assisting other people to know what Shelly wants from them as well, so it really works as that strategic partnership.
I’d encourage anyone starting their journey as an EA to lift their thinking to find way to really contribute to the leadership of the business. Certainly we also need to own the administrative aspects of the business but we can offer so much more. So it is about really valuing what we do as EA’s and helping to educate people about how we can add value to really help change those traditional perceptions.
What are the organisational strategies that EA’s need to be across?
Any EA should be across what the organisation’s strategies are. They also need to be aware of the strategic direction that the person, or the people, they are supporting envision. It is about really knowing the KPI’s or goals to make sure you are working towards them.
In addition an EA should have the key skill of networking and building those relationships, both internally and externally. It’s important to stay across what other organisations are doing and how they work through problems and business strategies. But it’s also a great way to benchmark yourself, to find out what other people are doing so you’re constantly in that learning space. Internally it’s really important to know who to stay well connected so you know who to call on for information when you need it, because we certainly won’t always know everything. Maintaining great relationships and goodwill with people is crucial so that they will support you when you need it and know that you’ll support them in return.
What is your journey with the Australian Red Cross and to winning the EA of the Year 2018, Executive EA Awards?
When I first started with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service the senior EA group didn’t meet as a team. So we have started doing that and it’s been really great —just the sharing of information and finding out what our different divisions do has been really beneficial. There are things that I might not be very good at, but there are other EA’s who have experience with these skills sets and, together, we share each other be the best we can be. I also think that now that we meet as a collective, our profile within the organisation has lifted.
My main role with the Blood Service is to support our Chief Executive, Shelly Park. I feel privileged to work for Shelly and for the Blood Service and truly believe that the work we do here is amazing.
Shelly kindly suggested that I put a nomination in for the EA of the year awards. I think that it was a really nice way of showing her support, and trust in me and as an acknowledgement of the work I do. The award has given me lots of opportunities to talk about my work at the Blood Service, which I’m quite passionate about.
I’m looking forward to be able to share my journey and talk to more people about the value of being an EA and what we can do, because I think EA’s are pretty awesome people.
Don’t Miss Kathryn’s session on “The changing perception of the Executive Assistant” at the The 10th EA PA Convention, 30th April & 1st May 2019, Sydney.
She will be focusing on the following issues:
- How to be more proactive and increase your visibility in the workplace
- Understanding the importance of strategy, decision making and networking in the workplace
- Gaining the confidence to realise your full potential: The journey to winning EA of the Year Award 2018