Executive assistant on his way to the top


I’ve been very surprised lately to find out that Paul Martin, ex-prime minister of Canada worked as an executive assistant to the president of one of the largest holding company in order to have his break. He did that after finishing law school and a few years later was given a company to run as CEO.

There’s also another who worked as “assistant to the president”. I won’t name because he’s not a public figure but he’s now partner of a big 4.

Anybody have info about such a career path?


I wouldn’t call that a career path, I’d call that “sh*t, I can’t find a job, so I’ll do this.” and through a shockingly unlikely combination of hard work and good luck, they got where they are. I wouldn’t say things like this are common.

BTW becoming a partner at a big 4 firm is more of not dropping out, putting up with sh*t hours and sh*t pay, and playing good office politics for 15 years. Its hardly on the same level of career difficulty as becoming CFO or CEO of a big public company or becoming Prime Minister.

That “shit I can’t find a job” is impossible… he’s a lawyer from UofT (top school)… and he was prime minister… its not like he was ackward or whatever.

and his progression was: assistant - CEO. So I don’t think he was paid to bring coffee.

Come on guys. There can be a huge difference between executive assistant and administrative assistant. Sometimes executive assistant can be quite intimately involved in the operational, financial or strategic aspects of a business. More often than not it is on a track to a general management role, not to mention that they often rub elbows regularly with some corporate big wigs.

Exactly. For example, that big 4 person’s tasks included:

  • Investors’ relation

  • Assistance to the public listing of the group

  • Budget control for one of the division

Personally, it seems like terrific exposure… while it does not require you to do work like a typical “analyst role” it seems like an intimate role that requires much higher level of trust / loyalty… not the type of position you find searching online…

That being said, if anyone know of cases like that or could comment/give an opinion on the strategy; it would be very appreciated!!!

I have a few friends in similar roles at Fortune 500 companies that were recruited during business school. I think MBA is the normal recruiting channel though I’m sure people also get these things through personal connections.

Yeah, I bet if you were hired to shadow Warren Buffet all day, you will come across many great career opportunities. Also, keep in mind that Mr. Martin started his career in the 1950s. Back then, the nature of business recruiting was probably different from what it is today.

In Europe, these jobs are very hard to get. People hired to be executive assistants are normally either PhD (more often than not) or MBAs, undergo multiple tests. I would not underestimate those positions.