They are just secretaries”, “they only make the coffee”, “they are poorly paid” and “they don’t have any business skills” are just a few of the myths often perpetuated about Executive Personal Assistants (EPAs) but the reality is very different.
EPAs have to work at the highest level and to the highest standards, be able to influence and communicate well, operate with limited supervision and use their initiative whilst under pressure in order to optimise their time to meet demanding deadlines. They must also be analytical, smart, confident, entrepreneurial, trustworthy, a problem solver, a decision maker, a change agent, think strategically and possess strong leadership skills whilst upholding confidentiality and acting as a close confidante. In truth, they are “Creative Catalysts” and operate in continuous roles of indispensability in that they are strong business stakeholders in the purpose and mission of the organization and they are called upon to fill many different roles from writer to stage manager to director. They are therefore both managers and leaders, with a comprehensive and complex responsibility which requires both offensive and defensive posturing whilst operating with insight, speed and clarity.
My role and responsibility as the course leader of the International Academy of Business & Financial Management (IABFM) “Certified Executive Personal Assistant”, is quite simply to provide delegates with a clear understanding of what defines a modern-day EPA, the skills and development required and to introduce practical tools and techniques to make them more effective in their role.
The course is therefore designed and delivered to provide delegates with an opportunity to also apply academic models to real life organizational issues and situations that arise for EPAs. My aim is to enhance their learning by providing them with examples, tips, techniques and even experiences, I have acquired over a career of more than 40 years in international business. To this end the course covers the fundamentals of organizations and the requisite skills of a modern-day EPA such as:
1. Principles of Modern Organization Behaviour
2. From Strategy to Operations
3. The Case for Change & the Role of the EPA in the Change Process
4. Developing a Relationship of Trust with & Representing Your Manager
5. Time Optimisation, Management & Prioritization
6. Understanding Management & Leadership Styles
7. Effective Communication, Internal Customer Service & Conflict Management
8. Problem Solving, Multi-tasking & Dealing with Complexity
9. Business Etiquette, Protocol & Diplomacy
10. Using Technology in the 21st Century
By the end of the course delegates will have 5 key takeaways in that they will:
1. Learn the secrets of supporting senior executives
2. Develop their career and professionalism
3. Self-manage and regulate their behaviour and emotions
4. Improve their confidence and influence on others
5. Offer greater service and value to their line manager
The course attracts Personal and Executive Assistants, Administration and Office Managers, Coordinators and Team and Section Leaders from all disciplines and functions of both private and public sector organizations and with varying levels of experience making it one of our most successful, highly attended and participative courses.
I look forward to welcoming you on our next delivery of the IABFM “Certified Executive Personal Assistant” and to showing you how to better support your leaders and managers with tools and techniques which will help you think like them and equip you with the skills to perform like them so that you can stay at least one step ahead of them.
Nigel H. Tomlinson.
Nigel is a Leoron Board Member and Head of Practice for Leadership, Management & Administration courses. He is also an Associate Lecturer for London School of Business & Finance and has a career that spans more than 40 years in international business and corporate international investment. Currently, he holds the position of non-executive director/advisor and innovation specialist. Nigel has led many companies into success including the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, which won various awards on the UK, European and World stage and has also designed and delivered international capacity building projects for the United Nations and the World Bank.