It’s not unusual for me to be talking with a male entrepreneur who sees the potential in becoming a virtual assistant. So why are men taking up secretarial work?
So what is driving this surge in interest?
The role of secretary and personal assistant was once occupied by efficient and capable women, but it wasn’t always that way.
According to Tess Reidy in her article in the Guardian.
“At the turn of the 20th century, secretarial jobs were well-paid and well-respected, and predominantly filled by men. However, as women fought to join the ranks of the employed, the profession lost its status, pay decreased and men sought work elsewhere. By the mid–1960s, it was a role primarily associated with women. In 1962, a survey revealed that 28% of companies believed sex appeal was a requirement of the PA’s job.”
In the same article, she talks about 25-year-old Joshua Watson, the executive assistant to a female senior director at Barclays, having previously worked as a receptionist and PA.
He does not see himself as working in a woman’s role. It’s not an issue for people from his generation. It’s a good career for he is passionate about organising and has exposure to the top people in his company. He’s ambitious, he wants to climb the ladder.
The surge is perhaps due in part to the highest rate of graduate unemployment since records began, and an awareness that salaries for corporate PAs can reach £75,000 a year.
The fact is that thousands of graduates end up working in jobs that don’t require any qualifications.
Ambitious young people are finding new ways to enter the business world. A PA gets to work with everyone in the company. Directors, Partners and all the teams. It’s a pretty obvious way to get noticed if you think about it. Virtual PA’s engage on an even wider business reach.
Susanna Tait, managing director of Tay Associates, in the same Guardian article agrees. She said she has seen a “huge” increase in numbers of male applicants. “We have witnessed the role of the PA evolve immeasurably and, with it, the pool of applicants it attracts,” she said. “As well as organising and managing commitments, they are required to project-manage schedules and communicate with a vast network of contacts. It’s an obvious career choice for ambitious individuals keen to operate at the centre of the business sphere.”
The nature of the profession is changing rapidly. Responsibilities increase, technology advances and teamwork becomes increasingly important.
In addition here in the UK, the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of EU Brexit negotiations is likely to see sectors downsizing especially banking and finance, retail, media, technology and law.
These sectors, together with audit and professional services, employ over 50,000 graduates each year. Will this open up opportunities for outsourced PA services?
Will a proportion of the 50,000 graduates each year see the opportunity to take their future into their own hands, perhaps exploring their options in a franchise model like Smart PA?
Recent interviews I’ve held suggest they will.
Rebecca Cross is an Award Winning Virtual PA.Her background experience working with IBM and the Wall Street Journal provides invaluable experience. She specialises in providing creative business and administration support for entrepreneurs and business owners who understand the value of working on their business, rather than in their business. She is especially looking to work with business start-ups, entrepreneurs, and professionals who travel extensively.