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        Press Release

The Million Rand PA

… High Powered PA's have among the world's most desirable jobs. Who wouldn't like to be the closest business confidante to Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates or Madonna?

Secretaries of old merely had to be good with shorthand and typing. Today's personal assistant can anticipate a rigorous travel schedule to global conferences, she or he may be expected to be proficient in a few languages, have great general knowledge and be a diplomat that would make Kofi Annan proud.

In the USA, an executive personal assistant earns around $120 000 (R900 000) a year. In South Africa, a high powered PA can earn up to R100 000 a month and have hair, clothing and travel allowances.

Dawn Pretorius who runs her own business and is a trainer for Johannesburg based training company, AstroTech with their course on High Performance PA's says that "personal assistants are very often the most knowledgeable person in an organization, they are privy to sensitive information and some have very special skills."

Wayne Ford, who is a co-presenter of High Performance PA's for AstroTech, says, "The modern PA has to know a lot about technology, email, voice mail… The high performance PA is really an assistant manager with a career path into management.
"He or she is a person the manager can delegate a chunk of his proposals to - if he has three reports to complete he may give her one to do and he will take two."

The qualifications expected? "Minimum of a BA or BComm, computer literacy in all basic computer programs including Microsoft Word, Excel, Microsoft Office, ACT!, and QuickBooks, strong communication, organisation and people skills, knowledge of business, personal and social etiquette, strong professional outlook, polished, professional appearance and disposition, available for travel."

A recent ad in a South African publication calling for a PA for two management consultants promised a salary of R500K plus for someone who could do "complex travel coordination both domestic and international, email management, coordinating conference and teleconferences, document production and generating reports, producing PowerPoint presentations and general administrative support."

A great PA anticipates her boss's needs and can behave appropriately with very important people. Take Eureka Smith, PA to Tokyo Sexwale, she meets and greets everyone from Microsoft chairman, Bill Gates to former US president, Bill Clinton. Imagine the diary, Zelda la Grange, Nelson Mandela's PA must have, think of the people she has met, the places she has been…

Pretorius says a high performance PA, is good with "organisation and assertiveness and elements of project management. They add value. Being a PA is for many men and women a way to get an insiders view, from the top, of how an organization or industry works. They then use that knowledge as a lever to move into management themselves."

AstroTech is running a course for High Perfomance Personal Assistants and Administrators from 11 to 13 December, to book contact Debby Bosch or Fuwaad Adams on 0861 Astro T (0861 278768) or 011 453 5291 or