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Married to the job PROFILE By Norma Teggart Freeman, a former secretarial


manager for Accenture in London who now works as a senior PA in the executive office of a multinational financial services company in Hong Kong.


When interviewing an experienced seniorPAfor anewrole, I askedher to talk about therelationshipshehadwithher exe- cutiveofficer.Shepausedforamoment then said, “The onlyway I canreally describe it is that it’s like an officemarriage.” I remember this as I think it is the best


way to describe a PA’s relationship with their boss, regardless of the gender of either party. A marriage is a long-term close relationship in which both people must work hard and make considerable


changes and compromises to ultimately make it work. So how do you ensure your “office marriage” is successful without ending up with one or both parties seek- ing a way out of the agreement?


Close and intense One of the main reasons for problems in a PA/executive relationship is its unique- ness within the business environment. Rarely elsewhere cantwo people be found workingso closely andintensely. Often, a


PAwillfindtheirwhole workinglife revolv- ingaroundthe needs,wantsanddesires of one person.ManyPAs often feel frustrated and demotivated as they are at the whim and beck and call of just one person. There is limited time in the job for any meaningful interaction with colleaguesand the chance to work with different people fromdifferent areas of the business. And the power a good secretary has


oversomeone senior in thebusiness is also unique. It is not unknown for executives needingto deliverdevelopmental feedback to theirPAto be, quite frankly, too scared they might upset or annoy them. Executives realise that their PA con-


trols everything and that they often go that extra mile out of the goodness of their hearts rather than work within the parameters of their job description. To upset their PA by asking for more time between meetings or a different approach to inbox management might put an end to those late nights or last-minute jobs being done, or lead to the wrong kind of sandwich appearing at lunch time.


t JUNE/JULY 2012 | WWW.EXECUTIVEPA.COM.AU 23


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