I am a PA to a very successful and senior investment banker. He works all hours and gives everything to his job. He sees my role as to do anything and everything necessary to help him be more productive. This includes many things which, in my opinion, fall well outside my job description and which I should not be asked to do, such as making doctors’ appointments for his wife, arranging parties for his children, and doing the payroll for his nanny and gardener.
If I complain I may be moved to another role in the bank, inevitably working for someone more junior, or at worst I may lose my job. Is there any other way to protest, or should I just shut up and get on with it?
There are two issues here. The first is whether your boss has any right to ask you to do these things. If he were a member of parliament he would be put in the stocks for such transgressions, but investment banks tend to take a more pragmatic view.
If he, as you say, works all hours, the shareholders should be only too delighted if his PA - whose labour is charged at a far lower rate – sorts out his home life so that he can go on toiling, uninterrupted by domestic concerns. His is an odd way to live, but that is another matter.
The second issue is whether you find it demeaning doing personal things for him. There is no intrinsic reason why this should be so: when you pick up the phone to make a doctor’s appointment for his wife you are using the same skills as when you make a business appointment for him, only the first is arguably more important.
It sounds from your message that you are a hierarchical sort of person, with your horror of working for someone more junior and your old-fashioned talk of job descriptions. Perhaps you feel that when you do regular work for him you are a colleague and when you do personal tasks you are a servant? This strikes me as a needlessly rigid way of looking at things.
Perhaps, though, the problem is not your misplaced sense of dignity, it is the fact that you do not like or respect him.
In that case I can see that doing personal things for him is intolerable. In which case what you need is not a discussion about your duties but a new boss.
Something else worries me about your problem: why can’t your boss’s wife make her own doctors’ appointments? Is she ill and therefore unable to lift the phone herself – or is she another workaholic investment banker who does not have such an obliging assistant?