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5 top behind-the-scenes assistants

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Behind every great leader is a great executive assistant. Rachel Feintzeig of The Wall Street Journal took a look at some prestigious executive assistants and how they help their high-profile bosses succeed.

  1. The stage mom. NBCUniversal President Edward Swindler’s executive assistant, D’Andra Galarza, works hard to make sure her boss’s needs are met, including stocking his office with his favorite snacks and waking up before dawn to make sure he catches an early flight. “You work very, very hard … so that they can shine and they can do their best,” Galarza says. “You’re kind of the stage mom.”
  2. The right-hand woman. Face­­book CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s former executive assistant Anikka Fragodt attended meetings on his behalf and educated other staff members about his wishes. Fragodt says she could anticipate Zuckerberg’s needs in a single look, and he says “Anikka helped me become a better CEO.”
  3. The secret keeper. Michelle DiGiacomo, an executive assistant for Pinterest co-founders Ben Sil­­ber­­mann and Evan Sharp, is often looped in on confidential information long before any of her colleagues. For example, she knew about the company being valued at $3.8 billion before it went public.
  4. The encourager. The former CEO of Baxter International developed a more personal relationship with his staff, including writing personal emails after receiving encouragement to do so from his assistant.
  5. The reader. Melba Duncan got her start working as an assistant to Lehman Bros. executive Peter Peter­­son. She says when he would come to work with a book, she would immediately buy and read the same one. Now, as president of Duncan Group, a training and recruiting firm for executive assistants, Duncan says bosses are looking for assistants who are educated about global affairs and who can help guide decisions.

— Adapted from “The Most Powerful Person in the Office,”  Rachel Feintzeig, The Wall Street Journal.

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