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