Last issue we heard about the evolution of the high-level assistant from the point of view of some talented and insightful EAs – our readers! This time, it’s over to the bosses and others who may not do the role but know it inside out…
Aileen Evans, group chief executive, Grand Union Housing Group
Providing homes for more than 27,000 people, Aileen’s company employs three EAs, one of which is Executive PA Magazine reader Lisa Glowacki
“Lisa works for me directly and our two executive directors each have an EA of their own. We’re all very busy and our EAs all support our Board and committees – all three are very fully occupied! They are the engine that drive the business. At a strategic level this involves so much more than setting up events and minuting meetings, for example. It’s about taking the initiative and seeing what’s to be done and finding ways to do it. It’s about smooth running of the exec team, a bit of troubleshooting and the ability to make things easy for the team.
I’ve had a dedicated PA/EA for over 20 years and my understanding of the role and the skills needed to do it has evolved over time. I remember being terrified to ask my very first EA to do anything because I didn’t understand what I could ask of her! Now, Lisa and I discuss what’s to do and which of us is going to do it. This is essentially one job carried out by two people.
The changing nature of business and the demands on my time have helped drive change in the EA role – and in mine, too. Flexibility is key and having someone like Lisa who is always developing her skills and finding ways to be of more help is invaluable.
I appointed Lisa in the middle of the pandemic, so we had to get to know one another and the way we worked in a very strange environment. Our relationship is a partnership and in previous times, boundaries were much more defined. I’ve always trusted and respected the EAs I’ve had the pleasure of working with and all have been influential in their own way. The breadth of influence and the span of delegation is greater now because the business, and the way my role has changed, demands it.
Lisa is a really important part of our window to the external world – I’ve lost count of the number of times external people tell me how great she is, and I know that contributes to our success and the perception of our brand. In turn, we put a great value on learning and development at Grand Union. Lisa knows I’d support her in anything she wanted to do – she’s a self-starter and finds her own learning opportunities, too.
If bosses 30 years ago were to look at the EA role as it is today, I suspect there might be some surprise at the nature and flexibility of the partnership we have, as well as the sheer breadth of the role. Lisa anticipates and thinks for me – she’s a complete godsend!”
EAs can help improve leaders’ mental health and wellbeing, research shows
A Research from Tiger Recruitment shows just that – three-quarters (73%) of surveyed bosses said personal assistants improved their mental wellbeing and reduced stress, while leaders without a PA are reported to work over an additional month per year compared to those with an EA!