Operations associates handle clerical and office duties for a company's top executive, whether chief executive officer (CEO), chief operations officer (COO) or company president. In other words, operations associates work for people who make the majority of important decisions for their businesses; therefore, associates hold important jobs as well.
Operations associates forward phone calls to superiors and take messages from important clients. They schedule appointments, type their boss' letters and keep track of important information regarding employees and clients, usually via computer. They might remind the operations chief of his daily agenda, take meeting minutes, respond to emails and handle regular mail. They may also assist with billing, collections and payroll.
More than anything, operations associates must understand their company's mission and be able to follow instructions; thus, they must possess strong listening skills. They must also be strong communicators, since they are often the link between their superiors and people attempting to contact them. Also, they should be professional, motivated, organized, courteous and reliable. They must also be computer-knowledgeable and have accomplished typing skills.
When hiring an operations associate, most top executives favor candidates with experience in a clerical setting. Most can get hired with a solid work history and strong references because they will learn on the job with limited training. However, all are required to have at least a high school diploma. Some also have a certificate or an associate's degree in office-related studies such as keyboarding, grammar, math or business.
Nearly 1.6 million workers were employed as executive secretaries in May 2008, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and opportunities for them should continue to grow. Jobs for executive secretaries are projected to increase by 13 percent through 2018, according to the BLS. Those prospects are likely to remain steady for some time, since top executives always need someone to handle these duties, thus saving them valuable time.
Executive secretaries earned more than $31,500 to more than $50,000 annually as of May 2010, according to PayScale.com. The precise amount depends on the company and length of time with the same supervisor.