Fourteen skills every executive assistant should have

September 15, 2015

Next time you are looking to hire a new executive assistant, find someone with these skills and attributes

 

We asked the Managed Healthcare Executive editorial advisory board, what are the most important skills and attributes executive assistants must have? Here’s what they said.

 

 

 

Project management skills, Technology skills, Interpersonal skills

- Perry Cohen, chief executive officer, The Pharmacy Group

"These skills are necessary so that the executive assistant can deal with the ever-changing marketplace in healthcare," says Cohen. "Healthcare is an information business and information technology is changing rapidly."

 

 

 

Approachability

- Dennis Schmuland, MD, chief health strategy officer, Microsoft Corporation

"If an executive assistant isn’t approachable, customers and employees won’t let their guard down and convey how they really feel," says Schmuland.

 

 

 

Fearlessness, Honesty

- Don Hall, principal of DeltaSigma LLC

"The executive assistant must not be afraid to state his or her opinion," says Hall. "Executives have few people who will give them an honest opinion. A good executive assistant can be a great sounding board and barometer of what's going on in the company if they know how to candidly and diplomatically convey that to their boss."

 

 

 

Problem solving skills

- Mark Boxer, executive vice present and chief information officer, Cigna

"The office of the [chief information officer] CIO deals with lots of complexity, and it takes someone who can help the CIO juggle and prioritize multiple issues to ensure the right decisions and right access happen at the right time," says Boxer. "It requires balancing the skills of an ambassador with those of a field commander.  The executive assistants represent who you are, and thus are in many ways one of the most important roles on the team.  They must embrace and reflect the style and culture of the organization in every interaction they have."

 

 

 

Intuition

- Kevin Ronneberg, MD, vice president and associate medical director of health initiatives, HealthPartners

"A good executive assistant must be able to stay one step ahead, and learn to anticipate the next question," says Ronneberg.

 

 

 

Professionalism, Compassion

- Kevin Ronneberg

"Executive assistants represent their manager," says Ronneberg.

 

 

 

Insightfulness, Action-oriented

- David Calabrese, vice president and chief pharmacy officer, Catamaran

"Executive assistants must anticipate the needs of the person they are supporting to facilitate that individual’s work flow each day and avoid issues/challenges," says Calabrese. "My best admin that I ever had I nicknamed 'Radar' (from the character on the popular 70s series MASH) because she was always one step ahead of me."

 

 

 

 

Spirit, Confidence

- Dennis Schmuland, MD

"The most impactful executive assistants are those who are not intimidated by titles or rank and have no fear of asking what higher ranking executives might perceive as dumb questions," says Schmuland.