Do you value your career?

Do you value your career?, by resident EA and PA expert Debbie Newman.

I recently spoke at an EA & PA National Conference to discuss an issue that concerns me, and I’d like you to reflect on the following question. “If you meet someone new, at a bar for example, and they ask you what you do, are you embarrassed to tell them you are an assistant?”


I know many EAs and PAs “sell” their role by talking about who they work for, and focus on the achievements of their manager, rather than their own achievements. If this is you, then let’s work on that, as you are never going to convince someone your career is valuable, if you don’t believe it is yourself.


I consider EAs and PAs to be crucial to an organisation. They determine whether something is going to run like clockwork or whether it is going to be utter chaos. EAs have the ear of the CEO, the big cheese, the head honcho; whatever their title. They are the power behind “the boss”, and if they have the wrong EA in the role, that EA can destabilise their boss’ career and damage their personal brand. Gone are the days of the traditional secretary role where they sit there waiting to be asked to make a pot of tea. I believe a key issue is people still think that is what today’s EAs and PAs do, as we can’t really pinpoint exactly what we do in one day, as it’s so varied. Allow me to list some key skills successful EAs must have:


People skills

Problem solving skills

Being able to think on your feet

Being able to multi-task




Attention to detail

Excellent spelling and grammar

Time keeping

Relationship building




Being able to think outside the box

Great memory


Being proactive


The majority of these skills cannot be taught in a classroom, but they are qualities that successful EAs seem to have. I challenge you to come up with a career that demands all of these skills, and then some.


If the above doesn’t inspire you to be proud of your chosen career, then I think you need to “fake it ‘til you make it” with an elevator pitch, for when you’re telling that person you just met in the bar what you do for a living. An elevator pitch is a brief and punchy summary of your profession, and should take no longer than 30 seconds to say. You should be confident in yourself and your abilities when writing your pitch. Be sure to make it interesting and start off with a strong statement, to make them want to know more. Most importantly, practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch until it sounds natural.


So, what do you think of this for an elevator pitch? “I am the backbone of the organisation. Last year, I saved the company over $100,000. My role encompasses coaching, advising, coordinating and managing senior level executives. Essentially, I am a productivity asset. My career is more commonly referred to as an Executive Assistant”.






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