EA/PA Networking Event with the APAI | The Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin

On Wednesday November 6th, the APAI had their final event of this year in the spectacular The Shelbourne Hotel!

It really is the place to meet and celebrate in Dublin. Steeped in history, with its elegant rooms and tastefully refurbished suites, The Shelbourne is a delightful mix of quintessential Irish charm and timeless luxury.

We were treated to some delicious food and drinks, before hearing from JP the GM of The Shelbourne. Denis O’Brien, the longest standing concierge in the hotel made us laugh and cry with all of his amazing stories of the hotel, its guests, and its history.

To showcase what can be done in each of the rooms, and to show us their most popular iconic rooms we were brought on a tour which included the famous “Constitution Suite” too (see below).

The mission of the APAI is to promote the success of career-minded administrative professionals by providing opportunities for growth through education, community building, and highlighting the important work of administration professionals in Ireland. “We recognise excellence, set standards, and provide educational, networking, and professional development opportunities for those pursuing careers in the office administration field.”

We also want to thank all of the local and national businesses who have shown their support and gave some great content for our goody bags – The Shelbourne, Lunatic Fringe, Just-Eat, Connect-Pro, The Shelbourne and EPIC Museum!

If you would like to learn more about the Association or join, please visit

Artificial Intelligence

The Impact of AI on the Role of an Assistant (And How to Embrace AI in Your Career)

When you think of the phrase ‘Artificial Intelligence’, what comes to mind? A few years ago, it most likely would have been a dystopian science fiction novel or a futuristic video game. With huge technological advancements in recent years, however, it’s clear that Artificial Intelligence is not just fiction – it’s fast becoming a reality. This has led to growing concerns about the negative impact it could have on us, and our jobs.

Artificial Intelligence

First Things First: What Exactly is Artificial Intelligence?

While the answer to this question could fill a blog post of its own, we’ll try to keep it as concise as possible.

AI involves creating and developing machines and software that can perform tasks that usually require human intelligence, such as speech recognition and decision making. AI learns from experience and previous data using a process called deep learning.

Natural language processing is just one of the areas in which AI has made leaps and bounds, which is why smart speakers such as Amazon Echo are getting better and better at understanding us. There have also been significant advancements in narrow artificial intelligence, whereby a machine performs a given task better than a human does. This type of intelligence is concerned with one particular task, which is often structured and repetitive – dissimilar from the more general artificial intelligence often depicted in science fiction.

AI has spread to numerous areas of our lives, some of which we may not even be aware. Take your Netflix and Amazon recommendations, for example – that’s the work of AI. What you see on your social media feeds and the notifications you receive from social media platforms – all influenced by AI.

What Impact Will This Have on My Job?

While we certainly haven’t created a machine with the intelligence level of many of the androids depicted in movies and video games, we have developed certain aspects of AI to the extent that it has already made a significant impact on many workplaces.

A survey by Gartner found that 37% of enterprises now use AI – this is an increase of 270% in the last four years. (Source: Gartner)

AI is quickly encroaching on certain fields, for example customer service. By 2020, a projected 85% of interactions with customers will be managed without a human, therefore chatbots will take over a large share of work in the customer service field. (Source: The Innovation Enterprise)

The rising usage of virtual AI assistants such as Apple’s Siri or Microsoft’s Cortana certainly makes it seem as though the roles of human assistants could eventually be at risk, too.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to be worried about being replaced by a machine any time soon.

In his book ‘Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence’, physicist Max Tegmark provides advice for future-proofing your job. His recommendation is to avoid roles with repetitive tasks and opt for professions that involve using innovation and creativity, communicating with other people and dealing with unpredictable environments. (Source: Irish Times)

Sound familiar? That’s because these are all traits inherent to the role of an assistant.

Working with people is a fundamental aspect of the job. The emotional intelligence required as an assistant is something that machines simply cannot replicate. Building strong relationships with your boss, colleagues, and clients and forming a mutually supportive network is key to helping you strive in your career, and helping the organisation’s effectiveness. Likewise, empathising with others and understanding how emotions affect behaviour and performance at work will make you a better employee and co-worker.

Using creativity to solve problems and deal with the unpredictable nature of the role is another important aspect of this profession.

Assistants also need to be prepared to execute any task that is thrown at them. Flexibility is an essential trait of any good assistant, and as machines have only been developed to use narrow artificial intelligence (i.e. carrying out one set task), this is another area in which technology won’t be outrunning us any time soon.

What’s more, Ben Pring, co-founder of Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, advises that only certain tasks within roles ‘are likely to be automated’. (Source: This means that AI will most likely just take over certain more repetitive aspects of your role, leaving you free to concentrate on other, more important tasks.

Our Tips for Embracing AI in Your Career:

The influx of artificial intelligence into the workplace may feel like a cause for concern, however, it’s a great tool to have in your arsenal.

Artificial IntelligenceTo get you started, here are just some programmes and software that you may find useful in your role:

Virtual Assistants such as Apple’s Siri will help you quickly complete internet searches, set a reminder in your calendar, or make a phone call, all while barely lifting a finger.

‘Respondable’ from Boomerang uses AI to suggest improvements for your emails as you write them.

Any assistant knows that dealing with highly sensitive information is part and parcel of their job. ‘CheckRecipient’ is a software tool that will prevent this information from being emailed to the incorrect address by analysing previous email data.

‘Spoke’ allows organisations to create a knowledge base that the programme will then use to answer employees’ questions regarding anything from paid time off to computer troubleshooting – similar to a chatbot.

Hotailors allows users to submit, review, and expense business trips efficiently.

Eva by Voicea will provide a transcript of your conference calls and meetings for you, as well as audio and video recordings. You can use voice commands and customisable trigger words to highlight specific ideas and actions.

As Artificial Intelligence is such a complicated and vast subject matter, you don’t need to get too bogged down in all the details, however, be sure to research any programmes or software that you may use, to ensure that it is the right fit for you, your job and the organisation.

There are also some great resources on the net that will help you stay on top of trends and news in the world of AI.

For example, Adobe and Forbes provide insightful articles, and Gartner’s surveys offer some excellent insights into AI trends. is another great resource to help keep up to date.

So yes, the robots are coming, but we advise you to use them to your advantage!


The Recent EPIC APAI Networking Event

Another fantastic evening was had at the APAI‘s Autumn networking event at the spectacular EPIC Museum.

We were taken on a journey through time with a tour from the fabulous and knowledgeable staff at EPIC, and experienced a tour like no other in this state-of-the-art award winning museum. We were then treated to delicious savoury and sweet canapes from the team at The Butler’s Pantry,  as well as the irresistible wine and drinks from Ely Wine Bar.


Roseanne Connolly (APAI Committee member) addressed the attendees before Gillian Horan of The Pudding Brand gave a hugely engaging talk on defining your brand, designing your brand and then how to showcase it both online and offline.

We finished off the evening with a fun scavenger hunt, and the team with the best time won!

The mission of the APAI is to promote the success of career-minded administrative professionals by providing opportunities for growth through education, community building and highlighting the important work of administration professionals in Ireland. They recognise excellence, set standards and provide educational, networking and professional development opportunities for those pursuing careers in the office administration field. If you would like to know more, or to become a member click HERE.

Traits of a Great Assistant

The Traits of a Great Assistant – How to Excel In Your Career

Traits of a Great Assistant

The role of an Assistant is vast – any Personal and Executive Assistants out there will scoff at the idea that their job is merely a simple 9 – 5. Long days are part and parcel of the role, and that’s just one of the factors that contribute to making this a demanding profession that requires an ever-growing list of skills.

EAs and PAs are required to be at their boss’s beck and call, making sure everything runs smoothly. They must be excellent all-rounders, completing a wide variety of tasks to a very high standard.

If you’re an Assistant, you’ve probably already read a countless number of blogs and articles with advice on how to be good at your job. Possess good communication skills. Manage your time wisely. Be a self-starter.

But we’re not interested in just being good – we’re interested in being great.

So how do you accelerate your career to new heights?

We’ve put together a list of characteristics that all top-notch Assistants should possess, as well as advice for becoming a pro in your field.

Anticipation is Key

Predicting and preparing for any problems that may arise, before they arise, will save valuable time when you need it the most. You don’t need the added stress of realizing that your boss’s passport is out of date the day before their flight or finding out on Friday evening that the Monday morning client meeting has been double-booked. Think big picture and always plan ahead.

Organization is key here – keep track of your tasks responsibly (read on for some great apps that will help you with this).

Technological Prowess

You’ll need to be a wizard with all things tech. Apps and computer programmes can and should be present in nearly every aspect of your role. There are the more obvious ones such as Microsoft Office and G Suite, which you will know inside out.

Then there’s Dropbox, which is always useful for sharing and storing documents efficiently. Monday and Trello are excellent task organizers that will help you keep on top of that lengthy list of assignments. If you need a more efficient and organized way of communicating with your boss and colleagues, Slack allows you to create company-wide message groups, as well as private chats for smaller teams. You can also use voice note-taking apps like Google Keep or Evernote for times when a pen and paper aren’t available.

As well as integrating technology into your own duties, you should know how to troubleshoot your boss’s computer too, so you won’t have to call in an IT professional. Not only will this save time and money, but it’ll also help you gain extra brownie points in your boss’s book.

Traits of a Great Assistant


In a role like this, you’ve got exclusive backstage access to your executive’s business and life – you’ll be privy to email accounts, credit card details, and voicemails. For the employer-employee relationship to be successful, your boss needs to feel comfortable sharing highly sensitive information with you.

This means that you will need to convey yourself as trustworthy and unlikely to steal or leak any of these details. Your boss’s confidence in you also needs to be rock-solid, so they can be sure that you are responsible and sensible enough not to accidentally let something slip.

Attention to Detail

It’s the small things that count.

You’ll need to proofread reports, letters, and emails carefully and weed out any errors. Spelling and grammar need to be impeccable, and misspelling the names of clients and their businesses is the ultimate no-no.

Mistakes will look sloppy, and this will reflect badly on both you and your manager. Take the time to proofread your work and double-check the finer details – trust us, you’ll be glad you did it.

Know Your Business

It’s important to be savvy about your industry. Regularly read up on other players in your field. Knowing what your competitors are doing will provide you with excellent tips and strategies to help you up your game.

Stay informed of what’s going on in the organisation for which you are working, also. You are often the face of the Executive and the organisation, and being knowledgeable and up to date on everything will reflect well on you, your manager, and your company.

To help you with this, you can set up a Google Alert for relevant words or phrases, and you will receive a notification whenever they get new mentions on the internet. You can also use a news app such as Gather or Flipboard, which allow you to customise your news feed to your own interests. Podcasts are another great way to stay savvy, as well as being the perfect way to pass time on the commute!

Be Adaptable

It’s important to be savvy about your industry. Regularly read up on other players in your field. Knowing what your competitors are doing will provide you with excellent tips and strategies to help you up your game.

Stay informed of what’s going on in the organisation for which you are working, also. You are often the face of the Executive and the organisation, and being knowledgeable and up to date on everything will reflect well on you, your manager, and your company.

As you’re already aware, the duties of this role can vary widely.

If there isn’t a suitable employee available at the time to get something done, it will most likely land on your desk (and this will often happen last minute). You may be required to project manage an event or conference, or to organise gifts for clients and colleagues at key times throughout the year.

This means you’ll need to think on your feet and adapt quickly to the task required of you, even if it isn’t your area of expertise. Being resourceful is important here, and our next tip will help you with that.

Traits of a Great Assistant

Create and Nurture a Network of Contacts

Your network of professional contacts will be invaluable to you as an Executive Assistant. It’s a good idea to join Facebook Groups and LinkedIn Groups, where you can chat with your peers. Attend events where you can network with others in your field and share tips and experiences with like-minded people. You can also save their details for a later date when their expertise might be exactly what you need to solve a problem at work.

Courses are a great way to upskill and meet other professionals in your industry. We’re thrilled to host internationally acclaimed EA/PA Coach Adam Fidler in Dublin in November, where you can broaden your knowledge and network with your peers. Click here or contact us at for more information

The Executive PA Forum is Ireland’s No. 1 Conference for EA’s, PA’s, and administrative professionals, and is just the event you need if you’re looking to create or expand your professional network. It’s taking place on November 3rd, 2020, with workshop day on November 4th. Click here for more details.

You can also connect with us on LinkedIn to join a network of nearly 7,000 professionals in your industry.

My Forum Experience

Last week I attended the only event for my profession in Ireland – “The Executive PA Forum” and I now have time to reflect as I’m up in the clouds away from distractions (literally I am but on a plane to sunnier climates).

When I think about last week, I initially think of the number of new people attending the forum and those who I get to see year on year, the support each other has for each other as every year goes on you feel like part of family who have a yearly reunion.


From a high level view of the speakers who spoke it was interesting that approximately 50% of them had previously been PA/EA and had gone on to others areas like a HR Director and setting up their own businesses. I think there great stories to hear cause it shows that the role of PA/EA gives you a great skill set, makes you ambitious but also makes you appreciate and know your self worth.

… So what did I learn or take away from this years forum which now has me reflecting on my role but also my personal life.

The role is evolving from your standard secretary to one of a leader in the business. Think for a moment what do you do in your role or if there is someone in your office who holds a role like EA/PA. They are the heart beat within a company, they know more than they say, they take in/store a lot of information and they are the links to a lot of what happens in a company.

Look at the diversity balance of the role. It is mostly women holding the support roles but there is a need for individuals to see themselves as leaders in the business, and companies too. The majority don’t see ourselves capable of doing the job that a man may think they can do 100% when in fact it’s 60% but flip those numbers for women when in fact they could do it 100%. Ask yourself what areas do I need to improve on to bring me to be a leader or be seen as a leader in my company?

In saying that, you need to understand your self-worth and the key areas that will keep you true to yourself. How you need to set yourself apart for others and not to fall in line with others. The areas shared were:

  • Positive self esteem
  • You are clear about your values
  • Set yourself apart
  • You believe you are good enough
  • You recognise the skills you bring to any table
  • You engage in work that is exciting and fulfilling

The thing about these six areas are they are all within your control and knowing who you are as a person but also in the role you hold. The people you surround yourself with should contribute to these and not take away from them. If you can answer “YES” then great, but how do you elevate it further and improve, cause there is always room for improvement. If your answer is “NO” then it’s time to re-assess what needs improving, who needs to be in your life and maybe not in your life.

The other focus of the Forum was about well being and looking after yourself in your role but in personal capacity as well. I’ve been a career Executive Assistant 12 years now and I always say anything I do, I do for others that at times you actually forget about yourself cause your focus is on others. There is more days than not where I think I’ve eaten cause I’ve probably gone to get food and got called on; looked up and it’s 3pm or went to go to bathroom but never actually making it cause you’ve been stopped 20 times on the short walk. I can tell a lot of you have nodded to the last part.

What each of the speakers taught me was about taking that time for you! Time to meditate, to bring yourself out of the chaotic zone of every day life, knowing the signs of when it is getting too much but knowing how to step back and hit the reset button. Being able to say ‘No’ to your manager or peers, knowing to deal with those times when things don’t go right and too move on.

But if someone treats you wrongly, know that you can stand up to them! Be very clear on your self worth and as scared as you may be to do that, nothing is scarier then letting someone take it way from you.

Did you every think about how many hours there is in a week? There is 168 hours in a week. Have you thought about what you spend these hours doing? I’m going to guess no for those reading this, so take the time to break it down by:

  • Hours sleeping
  • Hours working
  • Hours spent with family/friends
  • Hours just for you
  • Hours spent on learning, upgrading your knowledge, achieving goals
  • Hours spent on giving back

When you actually sit down to work this out and there is 0 – 4 in an area maybe it’s time to re-look of where you’re energy should be focused. Improve on areas to give yourself balance and the other areas will benefit. Putting more hours into the areas where it’s draining your energy will not have a good out come for you or those around you.

In summary of the day I know there are areas I need to action on and it gave me food for thought as it always does, as I come into mid year review in my company it’s prefect timing to asses where I am in my role, with my goals and as I head away from some downtime to hit the reset button.

I look forward to next years event on November 3rd, 2020 to see how I’ve progressed from this years forum and to see the new faces of this year who will become part of the family reunion and meet new attendees.

Remember to be the change you want and not what others see it to be.

Thanks for reading but remember I’m dyslexic so if it doesn’t read right, missed a word or spelling or grammar isn’t up to par, it’s just who I am #madebydyslexia

E.A. Niamh Smithers