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‘Secs’ in the City shouldn’t be overlooked

Despite the modern day PA being a world away from the stereotypical ‘take a letter Miss Jones’ typist’ - a Norwich recruitment company believes there is still not enough recognition given to the unsung heroes.

Research shows that the role of the 21st century PA has radically evolved*. In many cases PAs have become among the most powerful people in a company with three quarters (76 per cent) claiming to be privy to confidential information such as mergers and acquisitions long before the rest of the company.  Despite this a third of people (35 per cent) still did not see it as a well respected or even well paid profession.

The specialist Professional Office Recruitment team at Pure Resourcing Solutions has vowed to put PAs in the spotlight and organised a dedicated networking and training event at the Norwich Research Park, which was attended by 16 PAs from across the county.

“PAs are highly skilled and play a vital role in all organisations,” said Claire Pitt from Pure Resourcing Solutions in Norwich. “There is not only a misconception about their role among the general public, the business world also doesn’t give enough credit to their on-going development. Most of the networking and training events held in Norfolk are designed for managers, directors or HR personnel.”

She added: “We work with PAs on a day-to-day basis and understand that the qualifications needed are far more than just an attractive demeanour and great shorthand. That is why we decided it was time to make sure they were included on the networking and training scene. As soon as we sent out the invitations we heard back from many PAs who were keen to attend and who told us it was the first event targeted just at PAs they had ever been invited to.”

Organised by Pure, in conjunction with Your Excellency Limited, the event on Tuesday 21 June, included interactive training on Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques to help PAs work more effectively in partnership with the people they support and enhance their influencing skills through the use of language. It also included a chance for the PAs to network and build connections.

It was the first dedicated event, 25-year-old Gemma Restieaux can remember being invited to in her five years working as a PA.  Currently working as PA to Ian Hacon, CEO of Norfolk based Blue Sky Leisure, Gemma agreed there can be misconceptions about a PA’s duties among those who have not had any experience of the role.  Gemma believes the relationship between PA and manager is key, with trust and respect playing a huge part.  She emphasised that PAs are heavily relied upon by the person they work for, who trust that work will be handled efficiently in their absence.

“People may think PAs only complete general administrative and what is perceived as ‘pen-pushing’ tasks,” said Gemma. “Although we are not at the same level as the people we support, we work with them on every aspect of their role, ensuring they are focussed on the higher level areas and are as efficient and effective as possible. People come to you when the director isn’t there and you have to be aware of everything that is going on, keeping confidentiality in mind at all times. You are the ‘shadow’ of the person you work for.”

Gemma also believed the event was not only helpful in providing top tips on communication and listening skills, which are essential in their job, but also a useful networking opportunity.

“I haven’t had much contact with other PAs while in my current role,” said Gemma. “This was a great opportunity to meet other people in the role and to learn from them. I’ve already asked Pure if they will be organising a similar event in the future and I was pleased to hear that they hope to make it an annual event.”