In recent years much has been said about how governance teams have evolved into commercially orientated, strategically aligned function that adds value in ever increasing and innovative ways. At the same time despite advances in technological automation the administrative element of the role has also increased. Governance teams often find themselves weighing up the opportunity cost of having experienced individuals undertaking more routine administrative tasks. This has driven the near 150% increase in demand for experienced Executive Assistants who are proving to be invaluable assets within high functioning governance teams.
Whether working as a dedicated support or a shared resource with a Board member or the Head of another business function, an experienced EA offers critical support especially at times of corporate activity or commercial change. When senior leadership are under pressure, there is an increased reliance on the support of a competent EA to manage diaries, arrange meetings and travel plans, ensure IT is working for virtual meetings and distribution of all relevant material. Over time, 65% of EA’s will take responsibility for routine company secretarial related matters including preparation of Board packs, updating company information on Diligent/GEMS, and playing a key role during Year End e.g. organising the AGM and helping to compile the Annual Report. Make no mistake, these tasks have a direct effect on the success of the business. 20% of EA’s to the Company Secretary go on to study for the CGI exams with a view to being able to offer greater support on routine statutory matters.
The key to becoming a high performing EA comes down to three key skills:
- Adaptability – you must be able to respond to the precise needs of the individual and business at any given time.
- People Skills – being able to communicate clearly and concisely with senior management is a must if you are to build credibility and trust.
- Organisation – Being organised allows you to juggle and prioritise multiple tasks whilst keeping a cool head in a busy role.
Experienced EA’s work in an almost symbiotic way with the individual they support and are therefore a step ahead to ensure everything runs smoothly and to plan. Group Company Secretaries are juggling lots of business-critical tasks with little or no margin for error. The EA brings a much-needed sense of order to proceedings that allows the Company Secretary to focus on the priority tasks. One Company Secretary we spoke to from a FTSE 250 company said that her EA was ‘worth her weight in gold’ and as such is remunerated accordingly. The very best EA’s can now expect to earn c. £60-75k + bonus.
EA’s are in strong demand and should be valued as highly as anyone in a fully fledged company secretarial role. In a supportive and respectful environment, the EA has the skills and ability to add value way beyond any preconceived stereotype. With this in mind, it is fair to say that times are certainly set to change for the unsung hero of the team!