Professional identity and anticipating change

Author: Andrea Hessian

Professional Identity and Anticipating Change

The EA Role: How do we build readiness for the emerging future role?

Andrea Hessian
10 February 2021

Hessian, A. (2021). Professional Identity and Anticipating Change. (A thesis submitted for the degree of Master of Professional Practice at Otago Polytechnic.) [PDF 610 KB]


It is noted that change is happening within industries of all kinds. Transformation from rudimentary skills-based practice to highly skilled professional practice is occurring everywhere from nursing, to paramedicine to administration. The global change in administration is being documented through professional bodies like World Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) and the Association of Administrative Professionals New Zealand (AAPNZ). A key outcome of this study is to show that the industry has metamorphosed into a highly skilled professional practice.

Executive Administration (EA) roles are being adopted in response to the increased demand for higher-level skills and leadership required by employers and industry. Whilst there appears to be an expectation of more advanced practice from EA’s, there appears to be a lack of understanding and, perhaps, acceptability of the advanced skills EA’s brings to an organisation and the under-utilization of those individuals.

Many influences contribute to how EA’s are perceived, not only by themselves but by others, and professional identity is therefore impacted by those perceptions. This study aims to narrate the experiences of EA’s, past and present, Chief Executives and recruitment industry representatives to capture those changes and validate a theory that change has indeed occurred and is still changing.

Keywords: identity, Executive Assistant, change, administration

Andrea's research was supervised by Jo Kirkwood, Glenys Forsyth, Trish Franklin and Margy-Jean Malcolm.


This redacted thesis is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License.

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