How do you get yourself a secretarial or PA job in a big firm? We speak to the hiring manager responsible for all secretarial and support recruitment at a large investment bank to find out.
Progress to the top
I started with the bank 27 years ago and worked my way up. To begin with, I was a team secretary for up to ten bankers but I really enjoyed it and soon began to progress. In my time at the bank, I have been PA to the Head of Corporate Finance and the Chairman and worked for Managing Directors across the organisation.
Overall, I have changed roles every year to 18 months – I think this is important to keep things interesting. Although it has often seemed daunting to be out of my comfort zone, it has also meant I have learned so much more than if I hadn’t moved around as much as I have.
What does your current role involve?
Skills in programmes such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint are useful in all roles but having extensive knowledge of something like Bloomberg Datastream is a great asset in investment banking.
I work in Talent and Development, working closely with the Chief of Staff. As part of my job, I am responsible for the day-to-day running of the temporary desk looking after aspects as varied as training, recruitment and web design. Overall, I oversee 82 permanent secretaries and ten temporary secretaries.
The benefits of working in an investment bank
I love the buzz of working in a fast paced environment and my work is never boring. It has also allowed me to meet some interesting people and work with big name clients.
What do you look for in a team secretary/PA?
It’s quite simple really. Recruitment consultancies we work with test the ability of the person we’re interviewing so we are looking for the right personality fit. Ultimately, we want to match the professional with other assistants and bankers. Each team is different so each time we recruit we want to find different types of people.
We try to be completely honest in the job description when hiring. So when the job requires excellent diary managers, we will say that. We would not want to recruit someone who does not enjoy this aspect of the job when it is such a big part of it.
Advice for aspiring team secretaries/PAs?
A 'can do' attitude is essential and you need to be willing to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Once you get a job, ask questions so that you can learn as much as possible about the industry and what your team does. A lot of our PAs become business managers but they need to show real enthusiasm to make this transition.
From a skills perspective, I would recommend keeping up with technologies wherever you work. Skills in programmes such as Excel, Word and PowerPoint are useful in all roles but having extensive knowledge of something like Bloomberg Datastream is a great asset in investment banking. The more help you are to your team and the bank generally, the more useful you are. Proactively up-skilling will be invaluable for your career.
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