In this guest post, Oriel Partners co-founder Auria Heanley explores some of the possible career paths for Secretaries and PAs looking to take the next step.
A secretary is an administrative role, usually assisting an individual or small group of people within a business. To aid in your secretary career path, you can take courses that will help you to achieve your career goals. However, working as a secretary can also give you the right transferable skills to excel in a number of different career development areas, which we will explore in this article. Personal growth is something we should all continue to focus on, no matter how senior we are in our career, so if you are keen to progress but are unsure what options are available to you, then read on!
Part of providing first-class secretarial support is understanding people and how they like to work, as well as building relationships with others. Human Resources is a super career and can include several different specialities; compliance, training and development, payroll, employee engagement, and more, all of which your administrative training could be very useful for and give you the transferable skills needed to progress. If you’re looking to get a job a in HR, the CIPD qualification is a good option to look at, as it is often required to work in HR. It can be studied part-time around your secretarial role if this is something you were serious about pursuing.
Often a secretary or assistant will get involved in managing projects, and one of these could be an event. Whether internal, such as the Christmas party, or external, these events need careful consideration, budget management and plenty of preparation. A highly organised secretary could put their prioritisation skills to good use in an events role, especially if you have a creative flair and good attention to detail. A good project management qualification is PRINCE2.
An executive assistant or business assistant tends to be a more senior support position, where the administrative professional assists at C-Level and Board level, working closely with senior leadership. An EA tends to be privy to high level and often confidential information and can become an ambassador for the person or people they support. After honing the skills of a secretary or PA, an EA role could be an obvious next step. Also, it is not uncommon for a secretary to progress as the person they support rises in their career. If you find a good working relationship with someone, you can become pivotal to them and they will take you with them as they move up.
Managing a team of people or an office can be a very rewarding role, where you can directly impact other people’s progression. In a smaller office, the office manager could also be a secretary or PA so do volunteer to get involved in this if it could appeal to you. As well as ensuring that operations run smoothly, office managers can have a huge impact on company culture and business success. Typical duties can include assisting with IT and HR, supervising the front of house and admin team, arranging events, organising office moves and refurbishments, managing the relationships with suppliers and contractors, assisting with recruitment, as well as helping to create the right culture in the office. Usually, an office manager role suits someone who likes having a wide range of responsibilities where no two days are the same!
Even working as a secretary in a business, you may find that you are tasked with some personal duties for the people or person you support, for example booking personal appointments or travel. The better you know the person you support, generally the easier it is to ensure their life runs smoothly and if it is this part of the role which you find you enjoy the most, there is a specific career path just focusing on assisting someone with their private life. This tends to be supporting high-net-worth individuals whose lifestyle warrants this, and a private PA role can be hugely varied and exciting. It is worth bearing in mind however that these roles often sound glamourous, but there can be an expectation to work long hours or travel internationally at the drop of a hat, so it is important to be aware of the expectations of each position before committing, as every private PA role can be very different.
As you have read, there are lots of potential career paths which could lead from being a secretary. Think about what you enjoy about your current role as a starting point to assess where you’d like to move forwards in your career.
About the author
Auria Heanley is co-founder of Oriel Partners, a boutique PA and administrative recruitment consultancy based in Central London. She is extremely passionate about providing the highest quality of service to both clients and candidates. Oriel Partners’ clients range from global multinationals to small boutique firms, all requiring the same personal service and high calibre support.
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