Executive Assistants are the all-round office champions who support an organisation’s top talent executives. They streamline their executive’s calendar, facilitate remote decision-making, and take care of routine tasks so the executive can work productively without interruption.

If you’ve ever wondered what makes a good executive assistant, this quick blog outlines three top skills that are critical for carrying out your job effectively and adding real value to the organisation. Towards the end of the article, we’ve also listed three qualifications that will help you develop the skills you need to work for Australia’s leading corporations as an executive assistant.


The best executive assistants have outstanding interpersonal skills and are great communicators. Your job is to support the work of someone high up in the organisation, usually an influencer and decision maker, and in many cases you’ll be relaying decisions and information from the boss to work teams, colleagues and customers. Are you able to do that in a way that represents the communication style of the executive — without leaving anything out? How about smoothing over a misunderstanding with an important client, representing your boss in a sales meeting, or phoning a government official about a legal matter?

Organisation and Planning

How much time can you save your executive every week? You’ll need excellent organisation and planning skills to streamline your executive’s calendar and ensure they arrive at their appointments refreshed and on-time. Equally important, is having the flexibility and resourcefulness to quickly reschedule calendar overlaps and cancellations with a minimum of fuss.

And how about these? Do you have the forward thinking and planning skills to do the following (without being asked)?

  • Ensure the meeting room is booked and prepped for next week’s board meeting.
  • Review and sharpen a digital presentation that your executive is delivering at a conference.
  • Organise a tour guide (or driver) when your executive is conducting business in a foreign city.
  • Manage the daily correspondence (including emails, letters and phone calls) in a way that keeps your executive informed, but doesn’t waste their time.
  • Send a gentle reminder about an important birthday or anniversary that you know is going to be forgotten.

HEADS-UP: If your executive spends a lot of time out of the office or abroad you can expect to be managing their personal calendar and appointments too.

Business competence

Apart from being great communicators and efficient organisers, executive assistants also need a high level of business competence and technical skills in administration, writing and ICT. Depending on the industry (and the position of your executive), you could be taking the minutes of a board meeting, reviewing a set of contracts presented by a new supplier, evaluating venues for an upcoming event, preparing a tender document for submission to a government agency, posting Linkedin updates, and (at any time) rebooting your executive’s crashed laptop. Are you up for the task?

Developing essential skills

If you don’t yet have the skills you need to get started as an executive assistant, here are three qualifications that will put you onto this career path — including two VET courses and an undergraduate Bachelor degree.

Certificate III in Business

The hands-on Certificate III in Business is a great career starter. You’ll learn how to use all the necessary business technologies, while developing your skills in business writing, schedule organisation, and document production. Choose electives from the Business Competence, Administration and Technology unit groups to broaden your skillset.

Certificate IV in Business

Get the business skills you need to support the General Manager or departmental head with the Certificate IV in Business. Choose electives to obtain a specialisation in Business Administration. You’ll learn how to plan and organise meetings, deliver presentations, manage budgets and finance, write complex business documents, maintain key relationships and keep projects on track.

Bachelor of Business Administration

If you’re keen to become a high-end executive assistant — to a corporate CEO, CFO, or company Chairperson — the Bachelor of Business Administration will develop your critical analysis, decision-making and communication skills. At the same time you’ll learn financial accounting, corporate governance, contemporary management practices and leadership.

Written by Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda J. Irvine
Melinda is a professional writer, blogger and creative. When she’s not writing she works with marginalised kids in the Philippines, supporting their social and emotional wellbeing. You can find out more at melirvine.com.au.