Behind Every Great Executive Is An Even Greater Personal Assistant

Behind every great executive is an even greater personal assistant

The women behind Mandela, Schmidt and Gates

Some of the world’s most coveted gatekeepers are the women behind influential figureheads such as Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates and Eric Schmidt. The stereotypical, meek, Mad Men style typists are far from the reality of today’s assertive, versatile EAs, PAs and Administrative professionals. They are career-driven and business savvy with a thirst for success – and most importantly – recognition.

In fact, these assistants are tired of standing in the shadows, coming together now as an industry to shed light on the thankless job no one could work without.

From March 20 to 21, Executive Secretary LIVE, the leading international event for senior and aspiring Administrative Professionals and Executive Assistants, returns to London at the Grange City Hotel with one main mission: to reverse the stereotypes of the profession and recognize the field for the middle-management expertise these professionals deliver.

Professional assistants from across the world will come together to experience two days of intensive training and motivation from the world’s most passionate speakers in the business. Industry leaders will bestow advice from their own accounts as assistants, sharing anecdotes of ups and downs, achievements and struggles and insider tips that helped them succeed.

The hope is that attendees will use this insider knowledge as a tool to finding similar successes in their own careers.

The Director of Executive Secretary LIVE Lucy Brazier sums it up best.

“The role of PAs and admin assistants has changed dramatically over the past five years, due to the effects of recession,” Brazier says. “Gone are the days of simply fetching the coffee and sitting at a typewriter. Professionals who operate in this sector of industry are crucial to the success and profitability of a company, and it is important to continue investing time, effort and resources in to moving the profession forward.”

Featured speakers will include Executive Assistants to Nelson Mandela, Zelda la Grange; Bill Gates, Lauren Jiloty; and Eric Schmidt, Ann Hiatt, highlighting why the PA industry has proven its necessity in booming multinational companies around the globe.

One insightful session led by Zelda la Grange is sure to inspire. She details how to overcome adversity and deliver change as she learned to do. From an awkward, terrified young typist in her 20s to a spit-fire, right-hand woman to President Mandela, she grew to be his loyal and devoted confidante, spending most of her working-life travelling with, caring for eventually calling ‘Khulu’, or ‘grandfather’ the political icon we all knew from speeches on or television sets.

The former personal assistant to President Mandela shared this:

Being a gatekeeper to anyone is not easy. I was sensitive to criticism in the beginning but then realised that it was not a popularity contest I signed up for. I had to account to my boss and make sure he was comfortable with how I managed his professional world. Life equips you for the challenges you face, it is a journey of self-actualisation and personal growth.  The key is to remain humble and grounded and realize that you always have something to learn.

Alongside Zelda la Grange, Ann Hiatt EA to Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, Google, and Lauren Jiloty Senior EA to Bill Gates, will take centre stage at Executive Secretary LIVE.

As EA to three of the world’s most successful giants of technology, Ann Hiatt’s 10 year career has been on quite a journey; currently Executive Assistant to Eric Schmidt (Executive Chairman) at Google, she is also the former EA to Marissa Mayer (CEO of Yahoo!) and before that she was EA to Jeff Bezos (CEO of At the event Ann will share her story and tips for being a top level Assistant, leadership and personal effectiveness.

Lauren Jiloty Senior EA to Bill Gates, will also be sharing her story, offering advice on how to get to the top and stay there. Jiloty will also reveal the secrets of her phenomenal career: a path that has taken her from a lowly volunteer for state and local political campaigns to Executive Assistant to New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton before landing her current role: overseeing all administrative aspects of Bill Gates’ professional responsibilities to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Microsoft.

Other speakers at the Executive Secretary LIVE event include Microsoft’s renowned Office Master instructor Vickie Sokol Evans, Admin professional Lisa Olsen, Management Consultant Richard Arnott, US specialist PA trainer Kemetia Foley, PASFA President Anel Martin and event host and international PA trainer Lucy Brazier.

To attend the event, or to learn more about the program, please visit Executive Secretary LIVE.

Photo courtesy by Career-Intelligence

Megan Broussard

Megan Broussard is a storyteller from New York City. She credits her talent for balancing big hand gestures and a glass of red on her Cajun roots. When she isn’t covering women in career/business, fashion, lifestyle and culture, she’s playing with her pup – the inspiration for her doggy daycare business.