Sweet FA some would say and there is definitely some confusion about what these titles actually mean. However, there are a number of important differences between each of these roles and if you need to engage someone then this will help to select the right level of support.
EA is a term I’ve come across quite recently, this is the Executive Assistant. Now the cynical part of me would say that EA sounds like an important job title to justify higher charges, but no, this is not the case at all. The EA does so much more than a support role and manages areas like interim projects, complex proposals and they might get involved with business strategy, so quite a different role altogether.
The PA is a Personal Assistant, a role we all know and understand, or do we? Back in the day when PAs were the superior breed of secretaries (do secretaries still exist?) they were chained to a keyboard and plugged into an audio machine so they could type, interpret and present the ramblings of their bosses. Then we all went digital and didn’t really send letters any more. With the advent of email the PA role grew into something quite different – a true support role knitted into the fabric of the business. Not so much a back up role, more of a backbone role.
The VA or Virtual Assistant is an emergent role of the digital age. This is a back up role designed to support a number of businesses with support that might include diary management, email management and telephone answering. It’s largely a task orientated role that demands a lot of common sense, after all the client is paying to have the day to day “stuff” taken off their shoulders.
The variety of work across the roles is staggering – arranging events/conferences, conference calls, travel, hotels, car hire, social media management, blogging etc.
Everything comes with a different price tag of course and there are many brilliant VAs, PAs and EAs out there and virtual PAs and virtual EAs. Most support, back up and backbone roles can be undertaken remotely. Be clear on what you need when it comes to researching this area and you’ll get the right support for you. In many cases you can access highly skilled and experienced people for a fraction of the cost of employing someone.