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What do I need to be an executive assistant?

My name is Liliane Moratta, everybody calls Lili. I started working at Medtronic 11 years ago as a Executive Assistant. Nowadays I have 6 bosses and I love my job. #business #business


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Andy’s Answer

Hi Lili! I also work for Medtronic, so it's fun to make that connection. It sounds like you've had some great experience so far in your field as an Executive Assistant (EA) and I'm impressed that you are looking to continuously improve your skillset and ultimate success. During my career, I have been supported by a few different EA's and I've developed a list of the three characteristics/dispositions that are most important to me. First and perhaps most important is making it evident to your customer(s) that your priority is helping to make them successful and/or the team successful in meeting their professional objectives. Remembering this and reminding them of this approach will enable you to gain a deeper appreciation for the departmental strategies/objectives and ultimately tie your success to their success. Secondly, exercising a "can-do" attitude and a flexible/agile approach will further engage your customer(s) to bring you into challenging and rewarding project work. Finally, demonstrating your proactive nature and willingness to engage with people to solve problems (even those you haven't been tasked to solve!) will win the hearts of not only your customers, but will secure a strong network for you to tap in the future as others that you interact with throughout the organization take notice of your tenacity and pleasant demeanor. There are a lot of other things to think about beyond these "Top 3" (paying attention to the smallest details, bringing a fresh look/approach to something that's weathered or stale, staying current/ahead of the curve on technology to name a few...), but in my experience these are most essential to building a successful career as a sought after Executive Assistant.

Andy recommends the following next steps:

Pay attention to your EA network and take note of the "best" of them, emulating their behaviors where possible.
Continue to build your network with other EA's, especially those higher in the organization that can and will speak on your behalf when you need a favor or when it's time to consider a new role and/or career opportunity.
Schedule 1:1 meetings with your customer(s) and bring an agenda and/or content to these meetings for discussion.

Right on Andy! great advice that I also agree with as a fellow Medtronic employee Adele Suttle

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Amanda’s Answer

I think flexibility and adaptability are very important - the organization is constantly changing and knowing this will continue to change the role you are in, the leaders you work with, processes and tools, etc. will help you tremendously. I'm confident you already know this given your tenure at Medtronic.

Put yourself in the shoes of those you work with, ask them what barriers they face in being successful and how you can best support them is a good way to focus on the right priorities and align expectations.

Be proactive when you see opportunities to help/support. Think ahead to the next step or the natural follow-on question your leader may have of you. Anticipating needs for others adds value and reduces work and redundancy.

Leverage technology and find ways to simplify and streamline your work and the work of others.

Communicate, collaborate and deliver. Keep open lines of communication, ask for feedback, do regular check-ins and manage expectations effectively. Work effectively with others and leverage your network to accomplish work and improve processes. Follow through on your commitments. These actions promotes trust, respect, confidence and credibility.

Wishing you continued success at Medtronic!

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Wendy’s Answer

Great answers have already been provided. I agree that you have to be flexible and adaptable. Always try to anticipate the needs of your team and be one step ahead of them. If interviewing be sure to have these type of examples ready to provide.

Following through on your commitments is very important. Be a trusted resource for your team. Seeking 'Stretch Assignments' is also a great way to build experience and credibility.

If you have been with Medtronic 11 years I would imagine you are doing a fantastic job!!

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Anamarta’s Answer

Hi Lili - I worked as a EA for 15+ years. I would say focus on the following: Flexibility to adapt so that you can address an ever-changing environment. Regardless of the environment you work in, one thing you can always rely on is change. Attention to detail IS KEY, take those few extra moments to proof read your work before submitting it. Answer with 10-4 to requests! Everyone loves an EA that is ready and willing to accept a challenge. Ask questions if you need clarification, this doesn't show weakness, it shows you want to understand the big picture. Finally, if you see a better way to improve an existing process or make any improvement, offer your advice. This will show confidence which your bosses will appreciate. Best of luck!

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Philippa’s Answer

Some key skills include being adaptable, having executive presence, courageous, decisive, a good planner (think ahead to anticipate what your boss needs), fast and accurate at executing actions. You need to have good communication skills to coordinate with different individuals and understand their needs - be the glue that keeps everything together. Be accountable and follow through on your commitments. You can get your work done efficiently if you are good networker and know where to find information and resources quickly. Always be a continuous learner and add new skills and knowledge as you do your job.

This is great advice - especially about having executive presence and courage! Lisa Woodward Clark

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Bronwyn’s Answer

Adaptability and Flexibility are very important, as well as the willingness to do whatever it takes to make life easier for your executive(s). Build trust, be curious - the best way to be engaged in your career is to take on new activities and skills so you can increase your value. Be confident, never be timid about asking questions or directly addressing executives. Always be friendly and ego-free.

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Melanie’s Answer

All of these answers are great. I have learned a lot myself reading through them. I am a brand new EA, and have only been in this career for almost one year. I think that to be an EA the most important traits to posses are being flexible, proactive, empathetic, and in-tune with your executives goals that they are trying to achieve.

In my short experience, I have been supporting an extremely busy executive and being flexible and proactive is the way that I have been able to be successful thus far. You really have to "ride the waves" and just adapt to last minute changes on a daily basis. Being proactive and always looking at the next day, the next week, and making sure there is no over-laps. The goal should always be to make your executives day run smoother. I personally will take some of these answers and apply them to my journey in being a successful Executive Assistant.


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Simeon’s Answer

Beyond the experience that you already have, you are likely going to need tech skills the most. Find out what business software your business is starting to leverage and make yourself more familiar with the ins and outs of operating it. Work with your manager to discover what new types of projects and tasks you can assist with and your hard work is likely to be appreciated.

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Helana’s Answer

Hi Lili,
I agree with those responses that said you should be adaptable and flexible as you are the problem solver for your Executive. It is also important to be responsive and if you cannot get to a requested task immediately, let your Executive know when it will be done and meet or beat that deadline! I would also say to remain positive and friendly at all times. You want to make sure the work environment is a good one. Lastly, if your company and Executive use specific technology, you should make sure you are always learning more about its functionality so you know how to be most efficient and accurate with the tools available to you.

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Selina’s Answer

Hi Liliane, I believe you need to have a "servant" attitude. Don't get me wrong. You are not a servant but you must be ready to serve your manager and do it the best you can. You aim to do things well, have a strong can-do attitude, stay on top of things and be very organised. In due time you will get more experience. Build your connections: socially, within the company. They will be helpful in due time. Hope this helps.

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MJ’s Answer

I worked as a EA for 10 years and U think the most important skill to be EA is the attention to detail. Your boss will be very busy and will have no time to pay for all the matters and it will be the role of EA to provide all the details and keep them reminded.
Also communication skill is important as EA is gate to the CEO and get to talk to different function, different people in the level so how to talk and manage people is also required.

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Greta’s Answer

Hi Lili - these answers are spot on. Being flexible is key especially supporting six people. Things can fall through the cracks easily so it's best to be very organized. I create folders for the folks I support and "star" important tasks. When I have completed a task, I immediately move the email to trash or if important, to a created folder.

I have over 30 years experience as an EA so some might call me "seasoned". Through the years, my title has changed as well as technology. Always keep up to date on what platform you will need to use. If you only use MSOffice, learn GoogleSuite (and vice versa).

You also said you love your job. THAT IS KEY! Life is too short to be in a job you do not enjoy. I can honestly say I love my job. Some days are challenging but you keep going. Have weekly meetings with the folks you support as their needs will forever be changing as well as their personalities and working styles. There is where your flexibility will be really important.

I have currently is a great relationship with the other EA's in my organization. "Sharing is Caring" so it's great to keep up with what is happening within your smaller group as well as the larger group. EA's at your company will be your greatest resource.

Take care and keep love what you are doing! = )


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