In my series of blogs entitled ‘What is the actual role of …?’, I (Arne Bauer) present different job profiles at MANN+HUMMEL. As a ‘roving reporter’, I look over the shoulder of colleagues at the German sites. Today, I accompany Beate Schultes on the executive floor in Ludwigsburg. She is assistant to Manfred Wolf, General Manager, Automotive and Industrial Business Units.
What does an executive assistant actually do?
There are 15,231 employees and over 60 sites on five continents. In the General Manager’s office, all the threads of MANN+HUMMEL come together. One of the three ‘helmsmen’ here is Manfred Wolf, responsible for the automotive and industrial sectors. Beate Schultes has supported him as his assistant for several years. With many years’ previous experience as assistant to a business unit manager and in marketing, she knows that ‘you have to keep calm when things get hectic’.
Sometimes it is like a bee-hive in the control centre, with responsibility comes many a tricky situation. ‘Topics here are often of a confidential nature’, says Beate Schultes. She has her finger on the company pulse, knows what is currently under discussion and is often aware of what could happen in the future. ‘These are topics which simply must not leak out’. On the one hand, this is exciting, but the associated responsibility can be tiresome. ‘But that is just part of the job’.
A filtering assistant
Beate Schultes acts as a filter. As assistant to the General Manager, she does not filter dust particles or water droplets, but information. Important topics land on Manfred Wolf’s desk immediately, less important ones at an appropriate opportunity. She also deals personally with more straight-forward enquiries. It is thus an advantage to know the company well and have established a network of contacts. With regard to communication with external partners too, it is true to say that ‘you haven’t to be nervous about telephoning Directors sometimes’. She learned a long time ago that the bosses were ‘only normal people’ and clears up one misconception: ‘It isn’t always serious and hectic in our office. We often have a good laugh’.
An assistant provides clearity
‘To make everything as clear as possible’ is how Beate Schultes would define her role. Every day, she prepares for her boss a file of documents which require further action. An enormous amount of paperwork is waiting in her filing cabinet – neatly sorted by due date. She also manages the mail, checking for tasks that she must deal with. As an executive assistant, she prepares presentations, juggles with appointments and organises business travel. Ongoing tasks also include welcoming business partners and allocation of the conference room. ‘You have to be well organised’.
Loving language and being open
Her love of languages led Beate Schultes to train as a European secretary after graduating from high school. She then attended evening classes to qualify as a management assistant. Friendly, open interaction with people is important to her. Her first contact with MANN+HUMMEL was almost 25 years ago, inspecting filters for quality defects – and today she filters information for one of the General Managers. She says: ‘I really enjoy my job. It’s just what I wanted to do’.