Receptionist; front of house; director of first impressions; or front desk executive: whatever the chosen job title, this role represents the face and voice of a business. Performing the critical position of delivering first impressions to a company’s clients, you need to be the best at manning your fort. So, how do you stand out
12 years ago, The Devil Wears Prada arrived fashionably late into cinemas, introducing the world to Miranda Priestly, perennially dieting Emily and doe-eyed Andy. Along with delivering some classic one-liners , it gave the wider world an insight into the world of celebrity PAs and the lengths some have to go to look after their principal’s every need.
Even after a decade, there’s plenty modern-day personal assistants to celebrities can learn from Emily and Andi’s triumphs and disasters when working with a demanding principal.
1. ‘I rarely say this to people who aren’t me…but you really need to calm down!’
A celebrity assistant job, or in fact any PA job can be incredibly stressful, with a large workload and a wide range of complex tasks. Andy’s flustered approach at the beginning of the movie sees her running around in circles (at one point, literally!), before growing into her role and conquering each mountain Miranda puts in front of her with ease. Her ability to stay calm under pressure and think quickly allows her to get tasks completed efficiently and effectively.
2. ‘You want the unpublished manuscript?’
Finding a copy of the yet-to-be-released Harry Potter manuscript? No problem. No matter the challenge, both Emily and Andi find a way to satisfy Miranda’s every requirement, often exceeding expectations. When confronted with such challenges, it’s important to remember that your boss isn’t setting you up to fail – they want you to step up to the plate. It’s up to you to prove yourself.
3. ‘Go bore someone else with your questions’
Working with a busy executive or celebrity means conversations need to be short and sharp. Miranda’s commands come with no explanation or detail, leaving Andy to figure things out on her own. When given precious face time with your principal, it’s vital to be asking the right questions right off the bat, so you have the best chance of fulfilling their request.
It’s also worth remembering never to ask your boss anything you can look up yourself! With limited time, this is wasted opportunity.
4. ‘Can you spell Gabbana?’
Your principal will be interacting with a number of high-net-worth individuals and busy decision makers, most of whom are leaders in their industry. Therefore, you need to know exactly who the key people are in your principal’s professional and personal circles and treat them with the appropriate levels of courtesy, respect and gravitas.
5. ‘When I am not here… Andrea, you are chained to that desk!’
A personal assistant to celebrities or UNHWI provides ongoing support to their principal, so it’s important that they are available at all times. This doesn’t necessarily mean out of office hours, but there’s nothing worse than being missing in action during the working day. Your principal is counting on you to be their right-hand person – often literally – so you need to be accessible. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss a call from Lagerfield just before he’s about to board a 17-hour flight to Australia.
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