When Eugene Nizker, then CIO of Custom House Currency Exchange in Vancouver, first met Jessica Raichl, he doubted her ability to be a great assistant. For one thing, she seemed young for the responsibilities of the job (she was 24). For another, when faced with her trademark energy and optimism, he thought she was "putting it on".
Great assistants take pride in anticipating what executives need before they even needs it, in being organized and reliable so that the department runs seamlessly
"Indeed, my assistant was the face of the entire division," says Nizker. "The amount of energy and enthusiasm in this young lady is unbelievable."
Great assistants take pride in anticipating what an executive needs before he even needs it, in being organized and reliable so that the department runs seamlessly, and in being just the right mixture of friendly and protective. For their part, great bosses are equally protective, providing generous amounts of appreciation, opportunities and training.
Thomas Jarrett, CIO and secretary of the Delaware Department of Technology, has also been blessed with a wonderful assistant. Dawn Hill, Jarrett's executive secretary, was working in the governor's office when she heard that a new department was being created. Jarrett was charged with dissolving the old Civil Service IT department and rebuilding it from the ground up. "It was literally like starting a start-up company within state government," he says. Building a department from scratch, an IT department that would be run like a business, with a team that was performance-based and a compensation schedule set by Jarrett and company. An unusual situation and challenge to be sure. Jarrett's assistant would have to help him build a department from scratch, and since he came from the private sector, helping him and his department build relationships throughout the state government would be critical. He or she would also need knockout interpersonal skills, availability 24/7, the ability to accomplish secretarial duties while helping to build relationships with everyone from the governor to legislators, judges, representatives of the school systems and so on.
Because a newly created department was clearly an exciting opportunity, and because the compensation would be competitive, Jarrett had no shortage of interested candidates, but Hill was the only one he spent two hours talking with. She was motivated, enthusiastic and proactive — she had done her homework on what the job would mean.
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