Headroom Heads | David van der Swan | Senior EA

What skills should you have as a successful EA according to our EA David

Headroom heads david van der sman

For our Headroom Heads series, we sat down with David van der Sman, a senior EA to talk about what skills you should have as a successful EA. 

When did your EA journey start, and how?

I have enjoyed working at Headroom since May 2022. I found the vacancy through LinkedIn and decided to apply because the role perfectly matched my skills and ambitions.

What’s your favorite thing about working at Headroom?

What attracted me to Headroom was the freedom and flexibility of working remotely, combined with the feeling of being part of a very close team. At Headroom, I get the chance to support a diverse group of members with a wide range of tasks, from administrative tasks to booking travel. This creates a dynamic and exciting working environment where no day is the same.

The coolest or most unusual task you’ve helped an executive with?

One of the most challenging situations I have faced as an EA was arranging a private jet last minute for a team that was stranded abroad. I thought I would never succeed within the short time frame, but thanks to my perseverance and organizational skills, I managed to pull it off! This was not only a personal victory but also a great success for the member I supported.

What are some skills you believe every executive assistant should have, and how do you continuously improve those skills?

I believe every EA should have the skill to really put themselves in their member’s shoes and understand what their needs are. Only in this way can you be proactive and continuously surprise your members. To improve these skills, I keep challenging myself by learning new techniques and strategies and applying feedback from my members in my work.

You’ve been working closely with different entrepreneurs and high-achieving individuals: what’s the secret sauce to a successful Executive – EA partnership? What’s a non-negotiable? 

The secret to a successful partnership between an EA and an executive is mutual respect and understanding. It is essential that the member sets aside time for the EA on a weekly basis so that effective communication and collaboration can take place. This way, I can assist them in the best possible way and ensure that everything runs smoothly.

How do you prioritize tasks and manage time efficiently in a role that often demands multitasking and quick decision-making? What is your secret productivity hack?

A productivity tool or hack that everyone should use is creating to-do lists. This helps to not forget anything and to set priorities. I often start my day by handling the tasks that can be completed quickly, which gives me peace of mind and allows me to focus later on tasks that require more time and focus.

Collaboration is key in any workplace. How do you maintain strong relationships with colleagues, especially while working remotely?

Collaboration is essential in any workplace, especially when working remotely. To maintain strong relationships with colleagues, I occasionally go to the office and regularly call colleagues I see less frequently. This helps to strengthen the bond and ensures that we continue to work well together as a team.

Where do you see Headroom in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see Headroom as an organization with a much larger EA team so that we can support even more successful entrepreneurs. I hope we continue to grow and expand our services while maintaining our core values of freedom, flexibility, and team spirit.

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