How the PA role is changing in Dubai

Career and personal development
business support assistant

Gone are the days of Mad Men-style secretaries, where touch-typing and answering the phones were the top priority. The PA role has changed drastically over the last 20 years and it’s showing no sign of stabilising anytime soon.

In a world of start-ups, virtual businesses, and international ventures, it is becoming more and more popular for companies to need ‘all-in-one’ roles that cover the position of receptionist, PA, office manager, and other functions, leading to the development of a hybrid role.

The traditional PA vs. a modern day PA

At the turn of the century, the PA role looked very different to what we see today. What was previously a reactive role is now a vital support position to businesses and leaders alike. Although many aspects of the traditional role, such as diary management and booking meetings, have remained, a PA or EA often works at the heart of an organisation, playing a key role in all areas of a business. . In fact, a recent survey by the Guardian, found that 16% of PAs and secretaries said their boss regularly takes their recommendations on business decisions.1

In a fast-moving and uncertain world, managers are realising that support staff are a highly skilled and adaptable resource that can be deployed strategically across various departments to consolidate existing teams. Rather than limiting themselves to hiring for ‘siloed’ roles, companies are therefore seeking out these ‘hybrid PAs’, who are just as comfortable organising data, running events or managing marketing campaigns, as they are taking minutes and arranging diaries. The significant increase in demand shows they’re making a huge difference to business success.

The hybrid PA in Dubai

The Dubai market is picking up – we have seen a flurry of activity in the job market in the UAE since the New Year and there is an air of positivity that is signalling an increase in hiring. However, businesses still need to find ways of maximising revenues and one such way is to have PAs take on more responsibilities.

According to our data, the receptionist/EA role is the most popular iteration of this, a result of smaller offices needing someone to cover all responsibilities while keeping their headcounts down. We are also seeing EAs take on project management responsibilities, such as events or conference arrangements, negating the need for events managers.

As the workplace continues to change, PAs need to adapt to keep up with this shifting market. The role is no longer static, meaning candidates looking to excel in this career path need to take advantage of learning opportunities and potential for upskilling wherever possible. Perhaps this means taking on a new project in your current role, or looking for a new role that has a little more variety. The stronger the skill development, the better placed candidates will be in the job search.

If you are an experienced PA and are looking for exciting opportunities in the UAE take a look at the roles we have here.


Author Amy Butler Tiger Recruitment Team

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