Before the clock strikes 7:30 PM Philippine time (7:30 AM EST), Ruth prepares her work station. She turns on her computer and immediately checks the doctor’s calendar and emails. She then proceeds to check on the clinic’s staff both in the US and the Philippines. She monitors late-comers, absentees, and those requesting to go on leave. She consolidates morning reports, emails them to the doctor, and gives her a call.
Ruth is the personal assistant of Dr. Adriana Guerra, founder of Inspire Family Health located in Austin, Texas.
As the human resource head, Ruth consistently communicates with US staff and drafts communication letters and contracts. Her recruitment duties go beyond job posting on Indeed. She’s in charge of screening applicants’ resumes, scheduling interviews, doing reference and background checks, to name a few. Doing all these Ruth is an integral yet invisible part of the clinic’s operations.
Some might assume that Ruth is gifted to be on top of things, but it isn’t always easy for her. Ruth recalled one instance during an end-of-the-day review. She spotted an error on a payroll she furnished. To avoid serious problems to arise, she immediately informed the doctor about the mishap. “It was a serious mistake,” said Ruth, “the doctor called the moment she got my message and I immediately apologized.” Ruth braced herself for a possible barrage of scolding but to her surprise, Dr. Guerra appreciated her honesty and quick action and took responsibility for the mistake.
“I sensed her confidence in me rise that day,” Ruth recalled “so it’s only imperative to keep that hard-earned trust,” she added. Most importantly, that incident compelled her to be extra cautious, to eagerly learn and ask for help, and to take responsibility for a mistake no matter how big or small.
Months passed and she’s now in charge of more serious transactions like invoices, bills payment, and purchases. There’s more pressure in having exclusive access to credit cards and bank accounts. So to remove any hint of doubt, Ruth sends the doctor proof that all traces of her account details have been removed. The doctor doesn’t require her to but it’s something Ruth wishes to uphold.
There are also times when tasks aren’t in line with her expertise — something to expect if you ask Ruth. She remembered the day her client called in panicking after their website went down. The clinic relies on the site for insurance claims, so Ruth immediately sprung into action. She contacted their website’s support team and closely monitored the progress they were making until the site went back up. Since then, Ruth assumed the role of technical support. Minor tech dilemmas like iOS upgrades and settings are encountered on certain days. “I’m not a techie,” Ruth admitted, “Google was and is still my best friend,” and a hearty laugh followed.
On a lighter note, Ruth casually does tasks for her client’s family and advocacy. The doctor liked Ruth’s flair for art in making greeting cards. Ruth also assists the doctor with her pro-immigration advocacies. She designs the placards, does some research, and even relays messages to US politicians on the doctor’s behalf. “It definitely daunted me at first,” Ruth admitted, “but I worked as a customer service representative before — I’ve experienced far worse.”
Virtual assistants continue to provide staffing solutions while revolutionizing the traditional workplace. Despite this, the fear of being replaced by artificial intelligence one day persists. When asked how they can surpass technology, Ruth thought deep and replied, “technology made this job possible, but it’s the fostered relationship between client and VA that made this successful.”
As days draw to a close, Ruth attends to their end-of-the-day updates and remaining low-priority tasks. If she still has time to spare, Ruth augments in her team’s fax management, assists in US staff’s pending tasks, or carry out last-minute instructions. “Focus is translated into productivity,” Ruth began, “that way we end the day ready for the next.” Ruth’s obligations don’t end after work because she immediately takes on another: being a mom and head of the domestic affairs.