How to be an Executive Assistant to a CEO

By Robert Half on 4 November 2022
Estimated Read Time: 3 minutes

For many Singaporean professionals pursuing a career in business administration, becoming an Executive Assistant to a CEO is seen as a highly desirable career move.

After all, it tends to be a job that offers plenty of variety and autonomy, and even opportunities for travel.

To decide if this could be the next step on your career path, we look at what the role involves, and how to become an Executive Assistant to a CEO.

What does the role of Executive Assistant to a CEO involve?

If you’re interested in becoming an Executive Assistant to a CEO in Singapore, it’s worth highlighting that while this can be a very rewarding job, it is also a role that doesn’t always follow a 9-5 routine.

An Executive Assistant works one-on-one with a CEO, providing the main source of day-to-day support for a business leader, and taking care of a wide variety of matters to ensure the CEO can perform their own role at the highest level.

Not surprisingly, CEOs can have a demanding workload, and they rely on an Executive Assistant to manage their time and prioritise tasks. This sees the role of Executive Assistant to a CEO offer a wealth of variety, and it’s likely that each day will be different.

At an overarching level, the Executive Assistant acts as the main point of contact between the CEO and internal or external colleagues including Board members. Reflecting this, the Executive Assistant is responsible for managing incoming calls, emails and correspondence, and determining and prioritising their significance. A high level of professionalism is called for here as the Executive Assistant needs to filter out any distractions that can impact a CEO’s focus and productivity.

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The Executive Assistant is also responsible for helping the CEO manage their time efficiently. This calls for coordinating the CEO’s diary, scheduling meetings, handling and responding to invitations, and managing the CEO’s travel itineraries.

Additional responsibilities of an Executive Assistant to a CEO include preparing and collating reports and presentations, as well as drafting speaking and meeting notes for the CEO. These tasks can mean handling confidential or commercially sensitive documents, so a high level of discretion is required.

There may even be times when an Executive Assistant to the CEO is asked to represent their boss in meetings, or accompany them to industry events, highlighting the need for strong presentation and communication skills.

In a larger company, the Executive Assistant to a CEO may be supported by a team of staff working as part of the CEO’s office. This brings the need for the Executive Assistant to oversee the team, and ensure everyone is working productively and achieving shared goals.

What’s required to become an Executive Assistant to a CEO?

A tertiary degree may not be required to become an Executive Assistant to a CEO. However, some companies may require candidates to have a Bachelor Degree, possibility in Business or a related field.

More typically, a high level of experience in business administration is essential to become an Executive Assistant to a CEO. This reflects the nature of the role working alongside a business leader, who requires skilled support. As such, companies will often look for candidates with three to five years of experience in a similar role.

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Technical skills to be an Executive Assistant to a CEO

Proficiency in computer skills is a prerequisite for the role of Executive Assistant.

Confidence working with programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and even a variety of databases, can help an Executive Assistant perform at a high level.

The role also may require some skill in financial management for conducting expense reports.

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The soft skills needed by an Executive Assistant

Along with technical skills and experience, a few personal traits may be necessary to achieve career success as an Executive Assistant to a CEO.

As mentioned earlier, professional discretion is an essential requirement. And, as the Executive Assistant will be dealing with both internal colleagues and external visitors on behalf of the CEO, an eye for personal presentation and strong interpersonal and communication skills are must-haves.

Additional soft skills required to be an Executive Assistant to a CEO include the ability to multi-task and prioritise tasks. This calls for excellent time management skills, and the ability to work independently as the CEO may spend extended periods of time out of the office.

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The rewards of becoming an Executive Assistant to a CEO

With such a variety of duties and responsibilities, a good Executive Assistant will be prepared to stretch beyond their comfort zone, and tackle new responsibilities if required.

This can bring personal rewards including greater job satisfaction and greater depth of experience.

The upshot is that business leaders often rely heavily on their Executive Assistant for the smooth running of their office.

A good eye for detail that ensures nothing is overlooked, and the ability to make decisions that display good judgement while working under pressure can make an Executive Assistant indispensable, leaving the CEO free to focus on steering the company towards growth and profitability.

Looking for an Executive Assistant role in Singapore? Click here to view current available roles for executive assistants.

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