This client applied for the role of Executive Assistant (EA) within one of NSW’s State Government departments and gained a job interview. Six criteria required addressing; following are excerpts from three of the six criteria.

First-class skills and extensive experience providing executive assistance to senior executives in a professional environment…

I possess 10 years’ experience providing accurate and timely executive assistance and support to senior level executives and managers. I am currently employed with the AAA as EA to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). I manage a very busy diary for the CFO on a daily basis and regularly schedule large meetings (often at short notice) using Microsoft Schedule. I organise domestic and international travel and accommodation on a weekly basis for the CFO and five senior executives. The CFO receives a high volume of emails daily; therefore, I ensure all emails are read and prioritised, and I ensure those requiring immediate attention are flagged. I am responsible for managing the high volume of incoming correspondence marked to the CFO’s attention. This typically involves reading all the documents and preparing briefing notes to alert the CFO of those requiring immediate attention. I manage the monthly expenses for the CFO and a number of members of the finance team. I also maintain the finance team’s intranet site, ensuring that documents such as organisational charts, policies and procedures are kept up-to-date. In addition, I work closely with the AAA procurement team and Senior Accountant in creating and managing purchase orders for goods and services, and monthly fringe benefit tax (FBT) transaction analysis. Overall, due to the strict deadlines imposed by the AAA, and federal and state governing bodies, I am well adept working in a high pressure environment, ensuring the timely and effective completion of tasks.

Excellent negotiation, interpersonal, liaison and communication skills…

In instances requiring the negotiation of changes to deadlines, I approach the CFO (face-to-face) to commence initial discussions. Recently, I was successful in negotiating the repriotisation of the CFO’s diary in order to meet the demands of the executives while minimising impact on other business practices. On occasion, I also negotiate deadlines for Board members and executives to re-prioritise times and dates when resources are limited, and when staff are on leave or unavailable due to other deadline commitments or conflicting calendars. The approach I use when negotiating is dependent on the urgency required; however, all negotiations are carried out in a professional and diplomatic manner as expected when dealing with senior level executives. When negotiating on urgent matters, I am assertive in my approach to ensure necessary requirements are effected. In all instances, the outcome of these negotiations have been successful for all parties involved where suitable and agreeable timeframes have been negotiated in order to complete necessary tasks.

Well developed problem solving skills and track record of continuous improvement…

I am highly astute in resolving problems, both of a basic and complex nature; throughout the process, I utilise logical and lateral thinking processes to resolve and effect change. Previously, at the BBB of NSW, I investigated a problem regarding the reimbursement of travel expenses for a staff member who attended regular Committee meetings; specifically, whether policy stipulated that this was a justifiable expense. The first step I took was in approaching the finance department to determine whether other Committee members charged their travel to the Chief Executive’s office; I found that direct reimbursement was not paid out. I then utilised an electronic document and records management system (TRIM) to access the files for meetings this staff member had attended, and sourced the Terms of Reference for these Committees, thoroughly reviewing all documents. My aim was to find an agreement with the Chief Executive’s office outlining future travel payments for this Committee member. Once this could not be established, I reviewed all Committee minutes and again was unable to find any commitment for the continued payment of travel for the staff member. Finally, I used the intranet to locate the Department of Health’s policy on Joint Consultative Committees; this policy confirmed the service was within its rights to discontinue payment of travel. I drafted a sensitively-worded letter to the Committee member outlining my findings which was then forwarded to the Chief Executive office for approval. This document was approved. Moreover, the Chief Executive office realised a significant amount of annual savings in the travel budget through the discontinuation of reimbursement.

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Annie Cerone