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Going the extra mile as an Executive Assistant
For Executive Assistants (EAs), one of the most important relationships they will have is the one with their boss. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how to nurture a strong working relationship that will enable maximum performance and pave the way to mutual trust and success.
We sat down with Angeline Lum, the winner of our first EA of the Year competition held in 2013. The EA of the Year award recognises executive or personal assistants in Singapore who display outstanding work ethics and go above and beyond in their role. Angeline is currently the Executive Assistant to President, Asia Pacific and also serves as the Office Manager at ConvaTec. With 25 years of secretarial experience under her belt, she shares the secrets of a successful relationship and how it is important for EAs to go the extra mile.
What is the relationship between you and your boss like?
We’ve been working together for 7.5 years, so it has gotten to a stage where I’m able to anticipate his needs and render help even before he asks for it. Our working style is very compatible – he is focused on the big picture, doesn’t micro-manage and gives me autonomy to make certain decisions. On the other hand, I have a knack for details and always maintain a positive, never-say-no attitude.
About two years ago, we were working together in another firm and he resigned to join a new company. I was very sad to learn of his resignation but I also wanted to fully support his departure and transition to the new company. On his last day with the company, I rushed back from an event I was at to clear up his desk. As I wanted to ensure that he would feel completely comfortable in his new role and desk, I set-up his desk at his new office in the way he would like before calling it a day.
You didn’t need to help him set-up his new work place. What made you do it?
I wanted to make sure that he is at ease and comfortable in his new office, and it did not matter to me whether I would join him at his new company. I always derive satisfaction in knowing that I have in a small way contributed to his ability to steer the new company to greater heights.
Do you think going the extra mile is worth it?
For sure! The mindset has to be important, though. You can’t be doing it for want of recognition and promotion. It has to come from the heart. I do believe that hard work will be rewarded one day. I feel I’m very fortunate that my boss continued to have faith in my abilities and brought me into his new company on the day that he joined. It was an affirmation of my work performance and strengthened my loyalty to him.
What advice do you have for other EAs who are looking to strengthen their work relationships?
I’ve always strived to treat my colleagues like family. A strong rapport between an EA and her work family will allow her to flourish and maximise her abilities to support the team as they have complete trust in you. It’s definitely not something that can be built overnight, but will blossom over time as you show your commitment to the team day by day. Start with the little things, like caring for them and making an effort to remind him of their family member’s birthdays. Your thoughtfulness will go a long way in making colleagues feel special and valued.
Find more expert advice for executive assistants here.