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Information is empowering the PA

Teryl Schroenn

The abundance of information available online, from weather patterns abroad to the rules of etiquette in different locations globally, has helped to establish a new generation of personal assistants – people who use general information to make the lives of their bosses easier.

HR experts say that executive level leadership within companies are looking to hire personal assistants who not only have ICT skill sets, but can use these skills to source relevant and accurate information to help manage the office.

These are the small matters, the trivial things that also require attention, but do not necessarily have to be done personally by the executive in charge. These tasks could be left to the PA to resolve. Alternatively, the PA could use technology and information to be proactive, take the initiative and help clear out these responsibilities.

Business manager want to employ PAs who possess the confidence and skills to gather information, if and when necessary, to take care of day-to-day tasks in the office that will alleviate some of the pressure off senior management.

For example, a forward-thinking and competitive PA, knowing his or her boss has a trip abroad scheduled, could look up weather conditions at the destination and e-mail an advisory message on what her boss should pack.  

It is a small thing, really, but it is very helpful. It removes one of the many items that the boss would have otherwise had to pay attention to. By simply taking a bit of initiative and accessing information resources, the PA has added measurable value.

According to recruitment specialists, the current rate of unemployment in South Africa stands at over 25%.

In a market with that level of unemployment, it makes sense to approach job opportunities with a sense of determination to do much more than ‘what is simply required or that which forms part of official job specifications’.

It is important that employees continue to use resources available – including information - to add more value to their roles and responsibilities.

Teryl Schroenn is the CEO of Accsys (Pty) Ltd. Her entire career has been in the IT industry, starting as a programmer, moving into business analysis and then into sales and marketing management. General management positions followed, including board positions. She is actively involved in industry bodies, including the ITA where she was elected president, a position she held for two years.