When I decided to start helping companies find their perfect match, for their office, admin, personal support and so many other tasks that a PA and an EA can help with, I realised many people may not truly understand the differences between a personal assistant and an executive assistant, especially if they have not had one before.

This article, I hope, will shine a light on the key differences between these two incredible supporting roles, and will help you to know which of them can best suit your own requirements.

A Personal Assistant – the key roles

A PA’s key job role is to help reduce the amount of time the people they work with spend on general tasks, such as phone calls, booking appointments, and keeping them in the loop so they don’t miss important dates. They may work with a household or within a business, and offer administrative or office support, with a keen eye for organising and managing a person’s time.

They are usually the gate-keeper for phone calls, the person that is arranging travel and accommodation, and can often be asked to carry out note-taking during meetings. These tasks are all essential to a private estate, or a business owner, so they are often seen as the right-hand to those individuals.

A PA can offer a very reactive support system, helping to manage and maintain the smooth-running of a person’s life, and work.

An Executive Assistant – what they offer

Whereas a PA can often help both in a business or for private individuals, an Executive Assistant offers support within a business or company, with specific knowledge within the industry they are supporting. They often are given tasks that not only help to organise the CEO’s, MD’s and FD’s that they assist, but they often also help with other projects and background tasks that are to do with the business as a whole.

An Executive Assistant often reports to the CEO of a company, but is a part of multiple areas of a business, offering project management skills, and seen as a decision maker during the process of day to day and larger projects within the organisation.

The role of an EA can be more proactive than that of a PA, offering to be there when a CEO or person in a senior position cannot attend a meeting, helping to report back to them with the essential notes.

Although these are the role differences we often see between the PA and EA in companies, some organisations can have different views. We take care to ensure our meetings with our clients bring out what is really required, and create job specifications to suit the preferred positions of our candidates. When one company may use the job title “Personal Assistant” we may, after meeting with them to discuss the role, find out that what they truly require is an “Executive Assistant”!