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 two of the criteria.

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