Executive Assistants

Mission : Possible - Meet Alicia Fairclough

Discover Alicia's take on AI, the tasks she hates the most, and the biggest compliment any boss has ever given her.

Alicia Fairclough is a trailblazing professional who defies the conventional role of an Executive Assistant (EA). With over a decade of experience supporting C-level executives, Alicia's journey has been anything but ordinary.

Amidst the chaos of the pandemic, she saw the need for more online support for EAs, and founded EA How To to provide high quality resources and training, helping to solve common EA problems, and support them to develop their skills and grow their careers. Her Youtube video “Executive Assistant Tools & Tips for Organisational Perfection" has got over 150k views on youtube. Why? Because it’s practical, no nonsense advice that EAs, no matter where they're based, can benefit from. We sat down with Alicia to get the scoop on the highs and lows of the job, and the guidance that’s been her north star in times of uncertainty. 


What are the three words that sum up the role of an EA?

Organiser, wrangler, partner. 

What are the things that EAs do regularly that aren’t in their job description?

Be a sounding board. Gauge the mood of the company and stakeholders. Have your finger on the pulse of everything happening in the business - sometimes it feels like working at an information desk.  


What are the 5 secret weapons in your tool belt? 
  • Trello - I live on my Trello board. It keeps me organised. 
  • My EA - She is like an extension of me, doubling my productivity. 
  • Slack - It’s how my team communicates with each other and stays on top of things. 
  • EA How To Community - This amazing global network of talented assistants are an infinite source of knowledge and support. Their contributions to the EA How To Free Resources Library have been incredibly helpful.   
  • Canva - It saves so much time and makes designing absolutely anything a breeze. 
flower icon
Even superheroes can forget to check visa requirements.

Get the Executive Assistant's checklist for travel booking - your go-to list of essentials to remember when planning a trip.

How do you keep on top of new developments and expand your skill set?

I’m always connecting with brilliant people on LinkedIn or being introduced through my network. I’m fortunate to have had many of these people do webinars for EA How To and I always learn something new. 

What are the most time consuming tasks for EAs?

Managing complicated travel itineraries and handling last minute changes is a time consuming task for EAs who have execs travelling a lot. Understanding the travel industry and having great tools at your disposal is a must. 

Tell us about a time when you had to deal with a difficult travel situation, and what you did

I was working in the travel industry the day Qantas grounded their entire fleet.  I came into the office over the weekend to deal with a large number of passengers who suddenly had no way of getting to their destination.  My network and colleagues really came together to support each other at that time and we managed to make alternative arrangements for all of our passengers. I also had to quickly arrange a last minute visa for an exec who didn’t think he needed one because he had an Amex, and no I’m not joking. 


thunder icon

Best travel planning hack?

Appointment Scanner has helped me out a lot! Also, having excellent knowledge of airlines and their hub cities allows you to think outside the box when putting together complex itineraries. 

“AI will be the end of all EAs” - true or false?

False. EAs have always been experts at adapting to new technology and AI will help make great EAs even better. 


flower icon
What's the strangest thing you've ever been asked to do as an EA?

"I’ve been really fortunate to work with execs who’ve been respectful and haven’t asked anything too strange of me, but I do know a PA who was asked to bury the family dog, and I think that was asking too much!"  

What is the most unrewarding task in your day-to-day job?

Expenses. Hate them. 

And the most rewarding?

I’ve always loved training and assisting with learning and development in any way that I can.


What’s the best praise you’ve ever received as an EA?

I had a boss who always referred to me as his second brain - an extension of him.  That’s the biggest compliment an EA can get.

Best advice you’ve ever given someone else?

Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments. Words to live by. 

flower icon
Best advice you've ever received?

"Your reputation is everything. Protect your integrity, always." 

Most memorable moment or day as an EA?

When my boss encouraged me to take on EA How To full time after years of growing it on the side.  It was a huge moment because I have always loved being an EA, and I realised I would still be part of the EA world and be able to share my knowledge in order to help and support others. 



heart icon

Get expert interviews, time-saving tips and more - delivered directly to your inbox


Similar posts