Unconventional Routes for a PA/EA
We all know that being a Career EA or PA is a perfectly legitimate career path - one that is to be celebrated and rewarded. It's a tough job which requires a very skilled individual to excel at.
There are often times when a PA or EA will want to move onto something else, and there are some very common and well known paths down which an EA or PA will head. For example, it's a pretty natural path for us to move into something like Events or HR. A lot of us do a lot of these functions anyway on a daily basis so it's an obvious choice to make. Even more so when our roles grow so much that we need to take on an additional person to help.
But what about some of the less conventional paths? What else could someone with an EA or PA, or even Office Management skillset move on to? In this blog I take a look at some of these options.
A lot of assistants do a lot of email drafting and liaising with customers - ideal skills needed for investor relations. You already know how to deal with sensitive information, and the chances are, you already know where to go to get the information that your investors - or the press - need. You also will already have the skills to get your CEO to that interview she needs to be at, or to sign off that quote that the national press are asking for.
This is actually the route I took - moving to support a Sales Manager and their team. The role I took on the Sales Operations function, and from there I learned about operational processes. This is a great direction in which to move if you are process-oriented and have a passion for data. You will get to work with things like pipelines, forecasting, and operational processes. You will likely end up working closely with the Finance team as well - as you assist with their forecasts and even invoicing.
In the same way that you have been managing your Exec all these years, you now get to manage your clients. Be their point of contact when they need something, and be there to tell them about new products or services, and to hold their regular account reviews. You've likely already had a shed load of experience in gathering information for weekly/monthly/quarterly meetings with your Exec and their direct reports, so it will likely be very similar.
I touched on this slightly in the Operations route, but working in Finance is also another function that a lot of us possibly do a little of already. Payroll, invoicing, and of course expenses, are things which a lot of assistants help with already. There are many different aspects of Finance that you could move into - and a lot of those avenues will depend on the requirements of your current company and what qualifications you might need. If this is something you are interested in, it's always worth a conversation with someone in your Finance team (if you have one) to see what things you might be able to get involved with.
There are many different roles within these roles that could be open to you. The best next step you can take is to start talking to the people in these teams and learning what they do. I've said many times over the years that I managed to progress my career by taking on more and rarely saying no. That's not always an option for everyone, especially if you are already really busy at home and work. However, if you are serious about taking that next step, there's a likelihood that you'll need to make a sacrifice.
Good luck - and let me know what steps you take!