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When tired women around the country yanked from their letterboxes the January 23 issue of the Sunday-Star Times they found some pleasing reading. Geraldine Johns’ article Life savers told them it was okay for stretched high achievers to get help. After all, women – and men – around the country are signing up for assistance from flock of paid assistants.
Known as personal organisers in New York and urban PAs in London, these domestic divas will do anything from pay the power bill, allocate air points, walk the family mutt or find granny comfy rest home.
Back in the office, the need for senior managers to be bolstered, protected and sometimes parented by support staff has long been recognised.
Executive leasing company Emergent & Co took this step further recently when it set up Emergent Temporary Resourcing, standalone business launched to provide temporary staff at what it calls the “high end” of the executive support market.
For between $20-$30 an hour these people will step in at moment’s notice to back up temporarily stressed HR, finance, marketing or general office departments. For closer to $35 an hour executive PAs will also pick up the boss’ kids from school, buy presents for family birthdays, book holidays and generally help run their boss’ personal life.
Emergent director Carmen Bailey says top assistants make these executives’ lives “easy, seamless and transparent” biffing out worries about “the little things” like when their next meeting is or who is on the phone. “It gives them the confidence to focus on the big things and know the details are being handled by someone else.”
Bailey says candidates’ criminal and credit records are checked, and individuals must pass series of skills and psych tests, interviews and references before being placed in companies. “We also rely on our own intuition about people.”
Once appointed, these business divas may be handling the company accounts one minute and organising lawn mowing the next. All of which must be breath of fresh air for harried executives in today’s PC world.

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