What is it really like to be a contract PA at a large international investment bank? We speak to a PA at a large firm to get an insight into the job on a day-to-day basis.
What does your current role involve?
I am currently on a maternity cover contract as the PA to the Head of Corporate Governance. As part of my role, I organise a number of high-level meetings and I liaise with people from a variety of business areas – such as the fixed income and legal departments – on a daily basis. I am also required to deal with a lot of confidential information so I need to be discreet at all times.
Why did you get into contracting?
I left my last job and realised that it might be difficult to get a permanent role in the current market. This seemed like a good opportunity get into PA contracting. The thing I like about contracting is that it is a really good way of seeing new ways of working and gaining experience of different working environments.
What skills must a good PA have?
PA jobs have changed so much in the last ten years – before you needed to be a good administrator but that in itself is not enough nowadays. A good PA now not only needs to be extremely organised and pro-active, but also act as an ambassador with great diplomacy and communication abilities. Good networking and project management skills are also very important.
How did you get into the support sector?
I started off in marketing and PR in France. I moved to London eight years ago and took my first PA role there. I felt the two jobs were quite similar – in sales and marketing, you are required to deal with internal clients and it’s exactly the same when you’re a PA.
A good PA now not only needs to be extremely organised and pro-active, but also act as an ambassador with great diplomacy and communication abilities.
What advice would you give to an aspiring PA?
Know what your skills are and sell them. However, you also need to recognise that actual skills aren’t everything - your behaviour and how you come across are very important too. A good relationship with your boss is crucial so if you don’t like him or her at your initial interview, it probably won’t work in the long run.
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