While you may not have heard the term C-Level before, most people are familiar with the positions this phrase encompasses, including a company’s CEO and COO. But what is a C-Level executive assistant?
A C-Level executive assistant supports a CEO and other executive committee members. C-Level assistants are a company’s most skilled and highly paid administrative staff. In larger organizations, a C-Level assistant may oversee a team of lower-level assistants.
Does this sound like the job for you? This post includes everything you need to know about becoming a C-Level executive assistant, including the primary responsibilities and critical skills.
What is a C-Level Employee?
C-Level, or C-Suite, describes the highest-ranking executives within an organization. The “c” stands for “chief.” These executives are generally responsible for an entire department or business unit.
C-Level executive roles include:
- Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The highest-ranking executive in an organization. Usually, the company’s public face and makes major corporate decisions.
- Chief Operating Officer (COO). Oversees the organization’s day-to-day operations.
- Chief Financial Officer (CFO). Responsible for a company’s financial operations.
- Chief Marketing Officer (CMO). In charge of marketing and advertising strategies.
- Chief Information Officer (CIO). Responsible for an organization’s information technology initiatives.
These C-Level executives are the most powerful and influential members of an organization. They are responsible for making high-stakes strategic decisions.
What is a C-Level Executive Assistant?
C-Level executives have the most demanding and high-pressure positions within an organization. Their decisions have the most significant impact on the direction and success of the company. This responsibility is why the people in the C-Suite are most in need of a great executive assistant to support them.
A C-Level executive assistant reports directly to the CEO. They provide high-level administrative support to top executives. EAs to the C-Suite also have many other responsibilities beyond basic administrative and clerical work.
Responsibilities of a C-Level Executive Assistant
C-Level executive assistants have various responsibilities, including organizing schedules, screening calls, and managing company-wide projects. The potential duties of an EA are almost endless and can vary notably between companies.
So what is a C-Level executive assistant responsible for in general?
Organizing Calendars and Schedules
As a C-Level EA, one of your primary duties is managing executives’ schedules. This scheduling includes keeping track of their personal and business calendars. You’ll also organize and schedule meetings.
You’ll need to maximize executives’ time by efficiently managing their schedules. Every second of a busy CEO’s day is precious.
Making Travel Arrangements
C-Level executive assistants also make business-related travel arrangements for executives.
Travel planning duties involve:
- Booking flights
- Booking ground transportation
- Booking accommodations
- Organizing business meetings
- Creating detailed travel itineraries
- Submitting expense reports
It will be up to you to arrange the details of an executive’s journey, from printing boarding passes to making dinner reservations.
Screening Calls and Communications
One of the key administrative duties of a C-Level EA is managing an executive’s communication. This management includes filtering and routing calls and emails. You may also need to respond to correspondence on an executive’s behalf.
As a C-Level EA, you’re the gatekeeper to a high-ranking executive’s time. You ensure that only the most urgent requests make it onto their desk.
Managing Executives Contacts
As well as managing their communication, you’ll also manage an executive’s contacts. Remember the scene in “The Devil Wears Prada” when Anne Hathaway studies the book of gala guests so she can whisper their names in Meryl Streep’s ear as she greets them? It’s something like that.
In reality, it’s unlikely you’ll need to memorize the name of every person of importance. But, you’ll need an organized system where you can quickly find essential contacts the moment an executive needs them. You may also complete other networking and relationship-building tasks like sending gifts.
Managing Sensitive Matters with Confidentiality and Discretion
Working alongside the highest-ranking executives means that you’ll be privy to a lot of confidential information. It’s vital that you act with discretion and the executive can trust you with sensitive business matters.
An executive should be able to confide in you, share ideas with you, and even have you attend important meetings on their behalf.
A C-Level EA needs to be a trusted confidant to the C-Suite. Not the office gossip provider.
Key Traits a C-Level Executive Assistant Needs
Becoming a C-Level EA requires several years of experience in administrative roles. This experience gives you the necessary traits and skills to become an assistant to a company’s C-Suite.
Desire to Help People
One of the most important traits of a C-Level EA is a love for helping others. While your primary duty is assisting the CEO, there’s a good chance you’ll also be the go-to person for other C-Suite members and their teams. Whether it’s organizing meetings or performing personal errands, having a strong desire to help others is a key attribute of a great C-Level EA.
C-Level EAs often need to represent a CEO and communicate with other members of the C-Suite. You may also serve as a liaison between C-Level executives and the board of directors, senior managers, employees, and clients. You need to be able to communicate verbally and in writing with people of all levels. And the communication needs to be confident and professional.
Good Business Acumen
One big difference between a C-Level executive assistant and other administrative assistants is that a C-Level EA needs to have a strategic business mindset and strong organizational knowledge. To assist C-Level executives, you need to understand the goals and priorities of the business. This understanding makes you a valued business partner who can act as a sounding board, anticipate their needs, make informed judgment calls, and even represent a CEO when needed.
Well Organized and Detail Oriented
EAs organize the daily schedule for busy C-Level executives while also juggling multiple other projects. Therefore, strong organizational skills are a must. You also need to be detail-oriented to ensure you miss nothing. The slightest mistake at the executive level, such as missing an important call or email, can have significant consequences.
Strong Computer Skills
A role that often falls into the lap of an executive assistant is the personal IT specialist to the CEO and C-Suite. While you can’t fix every technical issue, you should be able to troubleshoot fundamental problems, such as those with emails and Microsoft Office. Strong computer skills also will help you do your job more efficiently by knowing the best tool, apps, and software to use.
One of the most important traits you can have as a C-Level executive assistant is a positive, can-do attitude. You need to come to work each morning with a smile on your face, no matter what you have to deal with that day. C-Level executives have extraordinarily stressful and high-pressure jobs. Don’t underestimate your power as their EA to make an executive’s life easier by being a positive and enjoyable person to work around.
How LifeSquire Can Help
On the lookout for your next position as a C-Level executive assistant? At LifeSquire, we’re always looking for hardworking executive assistants to join our candidate pool. Contact LifeSquire Connect today.