They’re now called manager assistants or management assistants. But they were once secretaries. A role that often lives, even today, of unpleasant stereotypes. A job that's not about making photocopies or serving coffee to the boss. Those who work as assistant managers attend meetings, know everything about the company, organize appointments, trips, meetings.
This awareness prompted Vania Alessi, former assistant director, to found Secretary.it in 2001, the business community for personal assistants. In addition to the platform, which offers advice and training activities to more than 9,000 subscribers, it is also an industry magazine.
A role, the ever-changing personal assistant, that needs to keep up with a world of employment that is undergoing a great transformation. “Management assistants”, Alessi explains, “are facing a double challenge, the adoption and use of technology to drive change, to change the way they operate with the management they support. Even working in smart mode. To be able to be competitive in an ever-changing environment, technical skills are most definitely required, varying depending on the business unit, but also on the personal skills related, for example, to communication skills, empathy, stress management.”
The challenge for management assistants today is to adopt and use technology to drive change, to change the way they work with management in smart mode
“So called high human capital work”, she clarifies, “is still important. Soft skills such as intuition, proactivity, diplomacy, the ability to manage the times and habits of managers-teams with efficiency and confidentiality are of the utmost importance. New technologies are and will be of great help, so long as we remember that digitization is a but a tool. The trust that the assistant enjoys on the part of the company's management comes, first of all, from the person.”
The key word is resilience: “It is the ability to accept what cannot be changed. It does not mean resisting but renewing and reacting in the face of stressful events with a positive and proactive attitude. By improving the ability to welcome new points of view and understanding change, we can all together generate positive energy, principles of collaboration and transform skills into excellence.”
But how much technology is enough? A lot, considering the menu of available products. From smart speakers to a voice interface, to chatbots and artificial intelligence, there are plenty of tools available on the market. “This is what the future of management in the age of the digital revolution looks like,” according to Alessi. “There are no location obstacles that can hinder the tasks of a personal assistant. Being away from the desk today is no longer a limit to one's professionalism. It seems like a small achievement, but it is actually great.”
For Alessi, “thanks to smart-working and available technologies, it’s possible to better organize work and family time, restoring balance between the two moments”.
Concretely, technology allows you to “manage your inbox better, create workgroups, newsletters, videos, presentations and documentation, browser notes and safely share documents”, Vania points out, “Today an assistant director can do many more things from home than just a few years ago in the office.”
Thanks to the technologies available today it is possible to better organize work and family time, bringing balance between the two moments
Shared communication is fundamental. “In an increasingly agile world, where we need to be fast, efficient and up-to-date, knowing all the technological "tricks" that improve our performance and that of our company is fundamental, also for the wellbeing of our families,” Vania closes.