Wow. That title sounds like the beginning of a bad joke or a riddle, doesn’t it? We promise there is no punch line here; just a comprehensive breakdown of the core functions and subsequent differences between a Virtual Assistant, a Personal Assistant, and an Executive Assistant.
Besides the fact that we are all assistants supporting clients/managers with business/admin tasks, you will see that there are several distinct differences between the three professions. Read on if you’d like to find out once and for all what the heck the difference really is! Oh, and a nice perk? You will be able to clearly identify which support person will be best suited to assist you in your business! (*cough, cough* a VA is best cough, cough)
VA (VIRTUAL ASSISTANT)
WHERE DOES A VA WORK? VA’s work remotely from home/their own offices. A VA isn’t traditionally a client-facing role; however, a VA will often have a great deal of client interaction via phone calls, emails, Skype.
HIRING DETAILS? VA’s are independent contractors that you can start and stop using for tasks/projects as required (with none of the usual employee costs such as PAYE, KiwiSaver, Annual Leave, etc.).
WHAT KIND OF TASKS DOES A VA DO? Predominantly hired to help businesses with office support functions, VA’s can do the all the jobs of a PA; however, some VA’s are also versed with specialist skills like marketing, bookkeeping, writing, and graphic design so can help far above and beyond the areas of a PA.
HOW MANY CLIENTS DOES A VA SUPPORT? The nature of the VA role means a good VA could be providing regular, ongoing business support for 3-10+ clients, as well as completing one-off tasks for many, many more!
DO YOU NEED QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME A VA? No, but you do need an excellent array of admin experience or other professional expertise. VA’s come from a huge array of professional backgrounds. As a client, this means you may end up with a VA who is highly qualified/experienced. (They may be qualified as a lawyer, accountant, or sales manager, but has changed careers for family/lifestyle reasons).
WHO ELSE DOES A VA WORK WITH? Aside from working with their range of clients, a VA either works alone, or they might work closely with other VA’s in the business to complete tasks (if for example, a task requires both graphics and content writing), but as a client, you will generally only be dealing with ONE dedicated VA.
PA (PERSONAL ASSISTANT)
WHERE DOES A PA WORK? A PA works in-house for a business where they report to/support a senior manager or department head/s. It tends to be a client-facing role, and sometimes they may be required to travel with their manager to provide in-person support on the go.
HIRING DETAILS? PA’s are hired (part-time or full-time) through a traditional employment process with a contract, a yearly salary, and all the usual associated HR costs.
WHAT KIND OF TASKS DOES A PA DO? Common operational tasks a PA performs each day include taking and directing calls; diary/calendar management and organising schedules; liaising with providers and suppliers to organise things such as travel, accommodation, meetings, conferences, and catering; and providing their manager/s with clerical support such as data entry, and drafting correspondence.
HOW MANY CLIENTS/MANAGERS DOES A PA SUPPORT? Typically, a PA would only provide comprehensive admin support to one manager; however, it is not uncommon for PA’s to provide admin support to two separate managers within the same organisation.
DO YOU NEED QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME A PA? To become a PA, you don’t need any special qualifications. A PA can work their way into a role after getting exposure to a range of general administrative tasks in more junior positions.
WHO ELSE DOES A PA WORK WITH? PA’s may communicate with and work closely with a company receptionist or other PA’s to coordinate schedules and plan events.
EA (EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT)
WHERE DOES AN EA WORK? An EA works in-house (part-time or full-time) for a business where they report to/support a senior executive, CEO, or managing director. An EA tends to be a client-facing role and sometimes, like a PA, the EA may be required to travel with their manager to provide in-person support on the go.
HIRING DETAILS? EA’s are appointed (part-time or full-time) through a traditional employment process with a contract, a yearly salary, and all the usual associated HR costs.
WHAT KIND OF TASKS DOES AN EA DO? In addition to completing many of the same duties as a PA (but for a higher tier of management), an EA is often required to carry out a huge range of executive-level duties including organising board papers/meetings/agendas, liaising with stakeholders, or even assisting with financial and HR/recruitment functions.
HOW MANY CLIENTS/MANAGERS DOES AN EA SUPPORT? Typically, an EA would only provide comprehensive admin support to one senior executive/CEO, but due to the seniority of their position, they may take on a leadership role and oversee tasks and projects in other areas of the business.
DO YOU NEED QUALIFICATIONS TO BECOME AN EA? It is possible to work your way up through an organisation into an EA role, but many EA’s hold business administration/management qualifications.
WHO ELSE DOES AN EA WORK WITH? Aside from working closely with a senior executive or the CEO, it is not uncommon for a senior EA to have their own PA or admin support person to ensure the EA is free from tasks that prevent them assisting the executive with their priorities. An EA is also often required to liaise with stakeholders and an extensive network of providers and suppliers.
If it’s a VA that suits your business (keeping in mind a VA can also play parts of a PA and EA) please get in touch with us here at Virtual Assistants.