Rob Hersov
Interviews

Robert Hersov

Robert Hersov, 55, is a South African entrepreneur, senior executive and private investor based in London. He currently serves as Chairman and CEO (and founder) of Invest Africa, Chairman and Partner (and founder) of African Capital Investments, Chairman of the VistaJet Advisory Board, and Chairman (and founder) of Adoreum Partners.

What educational qualifications do you insist on / Do you require your PA to have a degree?

A degree is not essential but a good education is! What is really important is written and spoken English, and good telephone manner/personal engagement.

Would you agree that behind every great business leader is a great PA?

Yes, yes and yes!  I could not function without Annette as my friend, business partner and “co-conspirator”.

What makes a great PA over a competent PA?

Being proactive, thinking ahead and expecting the unexpected – and then knowing how to deal with it. Also, being “calm in a storm” goes a long way to solving problems, most of which are molehills not mountains, in retrospect.

Being “calm in a storm” goes a long way to solving problems, most of which are molehills not mountains, in retrospect.

Do you think the importance of emotional intelligence in a PA is sometimes overlooked for a strong skill set? 

Skill sets can be learned but high emotional intelligence is priceless.

Would you agree that chemistry is the key ‘ingredient’ for a successful long term working relationship between a PA & Principal?

Yes, for a long–term successful partnership, chemistry makes the difference. The relationship needs to be balanced and of an equal footing, not one-sided. The PA needs to be comfortable and confident enough to tell her CEO he/she is wrong or missing the point, and have the CEO listen and take it in, and change direction.

Skill sets can be learned but high emotional intelligence is priceless.

What key attributes, traits and skills do you look for above all others when employing a PA?

Being proactive, being able to plan a long way ahead, being intuitive and having a sense of humour.

Is your PA a confidante and sounding board for you?  

Very much so! On work and on personal matters. She is truly a best friend to me, and I trust her 100% personally and professionally.

Do you empower your PA by allowing autonomous decision making in any key areas?

Yes, in a lot of key areas I prefer her to make the decisions – right or wrong – as it saves me time. She runs my diary and decides who can meet me and who cannot.

How do you keep your PA motivated?

By letting her work from home when she needs to (families are the reason we work), by having her decide her (and my) priorities, and by letting her get on with things herself.

Do you encourage ambition in your PA by offering a structured career path into an alternative role within your organisation?

Yes but we have both worked out that working together is the best role of all…

We have both worked out that working together is the best role of all…

Are you conscious of boundaries where a task may be classified as beyond the call of duty?

Yes, anything which would compromise her moral guidelines. She might present an excuse to protect my time and allow me to avoid meeting certain people, but I would never ask her to lie for me.

Is your PA an ambassador for you and your office?

Yes as she represents me on the phone, by email and often in person.

Would the lack of a PA impede your everyday output?  

I would fall apart!

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