In spite of living in a world in which the use of a personal assistant is becoming, in some cases, regarded as a luxury, without my PA I honestly believe my productivity and effectiveness would frankly halve at best.
Of course I can use word and excel, I can even understand the basics of power point! With a bit of a tour of the web I can book train and plane tickets and find hotels. I can rearrange the countless meetings I have and sort taxis to various venues. All of this, and the 1000's of other tasks my PA does, are completely doable by myself.
The only trouble is I wouldn't have time to do my own day job! That's the job that involves generating and delivering chargeable work for my business.
Like many owners managers I don't have a 9 to 5 job five days a week, far from it.
It's often more like 24/7 so fitting these non-fee earning jobs into my schedule is simply not possible.
But my PA is so much more than a support act. Without the wonderful Kate to look after me I would have no clear route from A to B. I would be trying to fit even more than is humanly possible into my diary and I would go to meetings without the right briefing papers. My documents would be badly laid out and full of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes and I would be stressing about the location of key data instead of delivering my service at optimum levels.
I don't use Kate to screen my calls or my emails as I have had bad experiences on the other side of the "dragon" PA, but she will deal with the thank you but no thank you emails for me if I ask.
A great PA is always thinking one step ahead of you, thinking what you need to help you be more effective. Kate often considers issues that have not occurred to me and such is her skill that she has resolved a potential issue before it has even become a problem.
Being a great PA also requires the incumbent to sign the companies version of The Official Secrets Act. The confidences a PA holds on behalf of their employer can be vital to both the executive and the company itself, so trust both ways must be a given.
Trust is often hard won and easily lost, so both parties must, must communicate openly and freely and in a no blame environment. I do all I can to create this but I am human and I don't always succeed. As such I have learnt quickly to apologise if I over react due to my own pressure points.
A happy PA = an effective PA = a happy and effective executive.
It's an important, and for me essential, role. I may compromise on lots of things in my business but a first class PA would not be one of them.
Thank goodness I have such a great one