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Today’s EAs do a lot more than type

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It may seem like Patrizia Iacono is a CEO, says Sydney Morning Herald reporter Sue Green. Iacono checks emails and reviews her schedule when she’s off work, and her day starts at 5:30 a.m., when she starts reading the day’s news. But she’s an executive assistant (EA) who mentors more than two dozen other EAs across Australia.

As the work of EAs moves beyond simply being a secretary or a typist, people in these roles take courses on leadership, media performance management, coaching and communication to build their careers.

Iacono is the executive assistant to Mike Wilkins, CEO of the In­­sur­­ance Australia Group. Some of her key tasks include managing her boss’s calendar and making sure he is ready for upcoming meetings. She also keeps an eye on his schedule by managing invitations and organizing his travel. She takes minutes at meetings and follows up on any action items assigned in them.

EAs’ duties have changed from passive to active, says Jonathan McIlroy, director of the Executive Assistant Network. They used to be given tasks to work on; now they direct much of their own work as they look for solutions before their bosses ask for them.

Not only must EAs manage their bosses’ schedules, but they also must prioritize incoming messages and be aware of any legal or financial issues the information within may represent, McIlroy says.

Iacono says every day is different, and when it comes down to it, there isn’t much typing—it’s much more about time management and prioritizing tasks.

— Adapted from “Patrizia Iacono exemplifies the new generation of executive assistants,” Sue Green, Sydney Morning Herald.

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