Its true, when you work as an executive assistant, no two days are ever the same.
In my years of service, I have worn many hats - some more flamboyant than others. Of course, many of our days are spent responding to emails, managing diaries, booking travel, writing minutes; all things admin.....but, it doesn't take long for the job description to be screwed up and thrown out.
When you work supporting someone very closely, it doesn't take long for the boundaries to become blurred, and of all professionals, that of the assistant is known to be loyal, confidential, and one that can be depended upon - no matter what the request...It seems the closer you get to your Exec, the more comfortable they get with asking, sometimes, the downright ridiculous!
An exec assistants role is loosely based on the job description on what s/he was hired. Often, this will include personal tasks as well as professional, ranging from booking hair appointments, to arranging for the plumber to fix the second loo (that's one of mine), deciding which parent does the school run on which day (another one of mine) and even buying the anniversary present for the wife...but by far, my favourite has to be the Exec Assistant who was asked to swap her dress with that of her Executive as she spilled coffee down herself before a meeting. Good job they were similar in size!
We often come across the slightly out of scope request - translating a training deck from English to Italian isn't that outrageous an ask, and decorating the Christmas tree every year comes with the territory. I've had to arrange a FedEx delivery of a piece of art (for a non-art based business) to a very remote location....where no-one else delivers to, but one of my not so run of the mill tasks was the time I had to sit in an empty warehouse all day, waiting for a delivery that arrived courteous of a man that spoke no English, and it was only by grace of the extremely limited German that I know, did we get the delivery executed.....no mean fete considering the items wouldn't fit through the door.....zu mir, zu dir.
By far, however, the most bizarre request I have received over my time served was that of a former employer who purchased an 8 ft fibreglass elephant as part of a charity event to raise money for the Sheffield Children's Hospital. We were planning to, very proudly, display said elephant in the office grounds for all who visited to see. Of course, to do that, we had to make sure the elephant could survive the weather.....queue Debbie and a pot of clear yacht weatherproofing paint and a paint brush.
Painting an 8 foot fibreglass elephant with yacht paint is something I never thought I would be asked to do - that's for sure.
But that's the thing with being an Exec Assistant. You do what needs to be done.
We are the doers. The find-a-wayers. We can be relied on to make our Exec succeed, no matter what that shape takes. If it means providing a stain-free dress, we do. If it means removing the stress of sorting the plumber, we do. If it means weatherproofing an elephant, we do. We provide a service that cannot be summarised in a job description. We provide continuity. We provide confidence. We provide contingency.
It takes time, but some of the nest working relationships I've had are with those who have made the most bizarre requests, but that just shows the level of trust, the depth of the relationship and the dynamic of the working pairing. It is because of tasks like this that i know have a catalogue of tools, tips and tricks for every eventuality, and a team of contacts in my arsenal to cover, just about, any situation.
That's the show of a good executive assistant. The one who can handle whatever is thrown, that knows where to turn, and can turn the chaos into calm with a smile on their face.
I love my job, and I'm proud to be an Executive Assistant.
I'm made of strong stuff. I have to be in my role. I've turned chaos to calm, and have rescued many a situation. I've also forged some great relationships.
And I can honestly say....there's never a dull moment!
Here's to the Weird and Wonderful Exec Assistants and all the Weird and Wonderful that they do.