When hindsight becomes foresight : Supporting your PA & Administrative Team

By Malcolm Taylor

Prior to establishing Your Excellency Limited 13 years ago I had more than 20 years in business finance and operational leadership.

During my previous career I always appreciated my PA and the Administrative Team. However,  I wonder how much I really supported these key players (I mean really supported) by helping them develop their career.

I have decided to step back in time and think about the supportive moves I would make now and I know my hindsight can be your foresight in supporting your PA and Administrative Team:

Picture this:

  • I run finance and operations across Europe & Asia
  • Annual turnover over $300m
  • 20 direct reports
  • 250 indirect reports
  • 12 offices in 10 countries
  • 3 different bosses in Corporate USA

I spend my time:

  • Communicating with my team (conference calls galore!)
  • Travelling to our satellite offices
  • Developing strategies and operational direction
  • Meeting customers
  • Approving sales proposals, costs & capital investments
  • Furnishing my corporate bosses with information
  • Dealing with auditors and other compliance bodies
  • Trying to regularly see and talk with all our employees to find the pulse of the business

It sounds like I was up on a lonely pedestal. But that was far from the truth. It was more like a stage with actors, directors, technicians, designers and even the audience (the customers and shareholders). Some were visible. Some were not. And what I do know is that we could not have had a successful production without the unique skills and leadership of everyone involved – particularly the PAs and Administrative Teams.

Today I feel lost without my phone with all its supplementary functionality. Back then I would have been lost without the functionality of my PA.

My PA, my leadership partner (yes, you know who you are!)

  • The Calendar – The keeper of our time
  • The Calculator – learnt how to produce and interpret key financial indicators
  • The Camera – able to take a picture of what I could not see and provide feedback on my activities and behaviours as well as those of others
  • The Planner – manage projects from design to delivery with recognisable tools
  • The Communicator – call, arrange, meet
  • The Analyst – use commercially recognised tools to assess internal and external opportunities or threats
  • The Search Engine – The fountain of all knowledge

And like my phone my PA needed to be updated with the latest “functionality”.

  • Confident communicator
  • Persuader and influencer
  • Financially aware
  • Commercially astute
  • Manage people & projects
  • Privacy settings

And how did they get these skills? They learnt them from others in the organisation. Hmmm… in hindsight that’s an interesting approach Malcolm…

Whilst I would support my trainee accountants through their professional qualifications, advocate CIPD qualifications for the HR Team and our IT team would gain certified software skills, I did not support my PA and Administration Team with the same recognised professional career path. And they needed to be more rounded than any of us and sit at the leadership table!

Doh! – why did I not give them the opportunity to be professionally trained and certified like every other function? Maybe it was because there was not much available (that’s an excuse Malcolm!) but more likely because, although I appreciated them, I did not support them in the same way we do with other careers. This calls for a change in mindset.  A PA is a professional, adding value to your working day and contributing to the success of your organisation.  And with recognised accredited qualifications available it’s time to support your PA and Administrative Team and use my hindsight for your foresight. 

You can learn more about our accredited EA and PA qualifications by visiting our website www.yourexcellency.co.uk and take advantage of our “TRAIN NOW PAY LATER!” scheme. 

Do you want to learn more about the specific undeniable benefits of our accredited training? Our series of 5 blog posts with specific benefits starts here!


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Become a truly exceptional EA by combining strategy, finance, marketing and leadership know-how in this accessible and accredited blended-learning Programme. The Mini MBA is for Senior & Executive Assistants who want to master business and leadership skills.

The knowledge and skills you will learn will be equally useful within your professional role and personal lives.

IAM are one of the oldest professional bodies for business and administrative managers in the UK.

During your period of study with Your Excellency Limited, you will have Student Membership status of the IAM.

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