What makes a good assistant

Headhunter to the Stars Brian Daniel defines what top-tier executives and celebrity employers look for in an executive personal assistant


While it’s true that every CEO’s personal and professional needs are unique, there are a number of skills that administrative assistants need to possess in order to be successful on the job. Many positions now cross borders, which is to say they are hybrid positions of executive assistant and personal assistant duties. This list is by no means exhaustive:

        • Ability to travel anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice: Does the candidate have the flexibility to travel with their employer anywhere at anytime.  Having attachments is very difficult in the world of a celebrity personal assistant.
        • Available 24/7/365: Assistants at this level must be ready at the drop of a hat.  There’s no such thing as a 9 to 5 when working for the super wealthy.
        • Thick-skinned & out-of-the-box problem solver:  Working under tremendous pressure and nearly-impossible deadlines is standard operating procedure if an assistant is working for a Fortune 500 executive or Forbes list billionaire.
        • Celebrity Handling: High net worth families are going to be friends with high-profile celebrities and business leaders. Having prior experience working with meeting the needs of such personalities is critical is this type of role.
        • Calendar Management: Being in charge of personal and professional schedules that are very complex is quite normal, so assistants at this state of their career should be certified in Microsoft Office and be at black-belt level when utilizing programs such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
        • Superb Gate-keeping Skills: Diplomacy is a very important quality because when you work for a VIP, everyone wants to get access to your boss.  Assistants need to be able to say no to important people without ruffling features and hurting personalities.
        • Reservations: Whether or not you travel with your boss, one will need experience with world travel and be thoroughly familiar with private jet protocol.  Booking flights and organizing against overlaps and redundancies is important.
        • Managing/Hiring Staff: Being able to identify quality talent when working with celebrities is important.  Just because one candidate worked with a Fortune 500 CEO doesn’t mean they will be a good fit with another.  All of the planets must line up when trying to make a match at this level.  Staffing solutions in corporate and domestic environments must be employed.
        • House/Estate Management: High net worth families usually have multiple estates in and out of the country, so assistants must be adept at working in and out of mansions.  Employers will always have a home office and working there at night and on weekends is commonplace.
        • Commercial Travel: Even though billionaires usually have a myriad of private jets, the use of commercial travel will come into play (first-class seating of course).  Sometimes the VIP, whoever that may be, will need to make last-minute travel plans and the use of a private plane won’t be practical.
        • Personal Travel Plans: Being familiar with your employer’s preferences and quirks is important.  When booking travel plans, assistants need to know what hotel suites should be equipt with so that the VIP’s stay is comfortable. Not all 5-star hotels have the same amenities.
        • Media Relations: If you work for a high-profile employer, then having experience with the press is strongly desired — especially as a celebrity personal assistant.
        • Expense Reports Management: CEOs and business leaders always have complex expense reports to manage, so familiarity with accounting programs to manage money is critical. At this level, expense reports can run in the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
        • Gift Shopping: Working with billionaires is always an adventure when it comes to gift-shopping. What do you buy for the person who already has everything? High net worth individuals and celebs have friends and family members with expensive taste, so finding those one-of-a-kind gifts aren’t easy — but always pricey.


Administrative assistants are no longer just typists because they run empires

Assistant Resources

career coaching

Here are a number of popular resources for personal and executive assistants to make your job easier (MORE»).