Secretary, team secretary or PA: what’s the difference?

Was macht eine Sekretärin anders als eine Chefsekretärin? Und was ist eine Chefassistentin? Lesen Sie, welche Aufgaben Ihre britischen oder amerikanischen Kolleginnen zu erledigen haben.

Generally speaking, in the UK and USA there are two main kinds of secretarial jobs
Personal assistant (PA) (also known as executive secretary or executive assistant)
Team secretary

The main difference is that a team secretary works for a group of managers,
whereas a PA works closely with one or two senior managers, for instance partners. Managers rely heavily on their PAs, knowing that they are capable of keeping things running smoothly in their absence. Both PAs and team secretaries need the same basic skills, and they perform a lot of the same tasks.

Secretary Today - Professionelles Business English für Sekretärinnen und Assistentinnen

In addition, a PA's job include tasks that require an extensive knowledge of the organisational structure, which means knowing all the key people in and outside the business, and knowing and identifying with the company’s aims. Discretion and confidentiality are important for both team secretaries and PAs, but they are qualities you are more likely to find in a job ad for a PA.

Work undertaken by PAs

  • Standing in for the boss in their absence
  • Attending meetings
  • Preparing reports and papers
  • Preparing and assisting at presentations
  • Carrying out background research and presenting findings into subjects that the manager is dealing with
  • Ensuring the manager is wellprepared for meetings
  • Liaising with clients, suppliers and other staff
  • Devising and maintaining office systems to deal efficiently with paper flow
  • Organising and storing paperwork, documents and computer-based information
  • Travelling with the manager
  • Taking the minutes of meetings
  • Carrying out specific projects
  • Responsibility for accounts and budgets
  • Recruiting staff
  • Delegating secretarial work

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Work undertaken by team secretaries and PAs

  • Screening telephone calls
  • Screening enquiries and requests, and handling them when appropriate
  • Organising and maintaining diaries and making appointments
  • Welcoming and looking after visitors
  • Taking dictation
  • Typing letters
  • Organising meetings
  • Preparing presentations
  • Arranging travel and accommodation
  • Taking and distributing telephone messages
  • Providing an accurate and fast typing service
  • Preparing Word and Excel documents
  • Dealing with incoming post (opening, datestamping, distributing)
  • Arranging old files to be archived or shredded