3 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BEING AN EXECUTIVE AIDE-DE-CAMP
By LILY CHEAH
If you’ve not heard of someone working as an executive aide-de-camp (EADC), that’s because it’s a brand new role introduced by Malaysian security company Chico Force Sdn Bhd.
While its name draws inspiration from the more familiar military occupation called “aide-de-camp”, EADCs function in the world of business, working as super assistants to high-ranking business leaders.
While traditional assistants look after work-related aspects such as planning itineraries and assisting in meetings, EADCs go one step further and also look out for the safety of the client they are assigned to (called “principal”).
As a result, on top of skills usually required of assistants, EADCs are equipped in areas such as close combat and defensive driving, and are trained in close protection in order to better coordinate the principal’s security team.
It’s a job that’s not for the faint-hearted, but for those looking for an exciting career, this could be the ideal role.
Here are three things you need to know about being an EADC:
1. They are trusted assistants who look out for the business interests and the safety of their principal
As the role of the EADC is essentially to be an effective right-hand person to a business leader, his/her role encompasses the duties of an executive assistant. Examples of tasks include planning meetings and preparing itineraries on behalf of the principal.
Due to the trust placed in EADCs, they are also tasked with looking out for the personal safety and interests of the principal. This may entail supervising other personal staff such as secretaries, bodyguards and drivers.
Chico Force emphasises the uniqueness of the EADC role. “An EADC isn’t a bodyguard,” explains Niho Khoo, head of the EADC project. “Just observe an EADC and it becomes very obvious. They are dressed in business attire, and they walk with the bosses, not behind them.”
“They are an integral part of the principal’s core team. They fly on the private jet with the boss and accompany them in the meeting rooms. They are brought into the boardroom and get to listen to conversations because they are trusted.”
As all responsibilities of the EADC hinge on his/her relationship with the principal, both are carefully matched with one another according to profiles, and what the company terms, “chemistry”.
Given the breadth of the role, “the most successful EADCs are patient, flexible yet highly disciplined and systematic. They are people of accountability and high integrity, and are individuals who stand out from their peers,” says Niho.
2. Extensive training is provided to equip EADCs with the skills they need
The training that EADCs receive include soft skill training in etiquette and protocol, firearm handling and safety, defensive driving and safety, close protection training and any other skills required by the client.
“The whole process could take from nine months to a year,” says Khoo. “Individuals will sometimes be trained in batches and other times individually, depending on the training.”
“Training is also customised according to the requirements of the client, for instance, needing a helicopter licence,” he says.
Though the EADC works closely with the principal’s existing personal security team, he explains that it’s still important that they themselves have security-related skills.
“Before the EADC can protect others, he or she must be able to protect themselves. One advantage of this is that the EADC will then also have skills to protect people in their personal sphere, such as their family.”
Due to the nature of the role, full dedication is essential. “EADCs must be committed because they’ll be protecting the lives of others and their own. You have to fully commit before you try. With any other job, you can just give it a go. Not this one,” he says.
3. It’s a springboard for individuals at the beginning of their careers who are interested in business and want to learn from high-ranking leaders
As EADCs shadow their principal closely, they are given access to business dealings and discussions that their principal is involved in.
Since the EADC also functions as an executive assistant, he or she is allowed through doors that customarily open only for individuals at senior levels.
“They will be able to be a part of major meetings between leaders that many will never have the chance to be a part of,” explains Niho Khoo. “And all this at the beginning of their careers.”
This access to key individuals and relationships present the opportunity not only to learn, but to build networks.
“Young degree holders are ideal for the role of the EADC as they are teachable,” she says, emphasising the benefits especially for individuals who want to get into business.
“The reality is that to be a businessman, you must really understand the environment. Degrees only give you limited experience. Internships are short, and not long enough to prove you can work with people.”
“EADCs get to shadow top leaders, and this is the ultimate university of hard knocks. You normally have to pay to learn, but you get paid for this, and paid well too. You’re taking notes in the boardroom where the action is. This is the ultimate practical exposure.”
According to the EADC project head, after five to 10 years as an EADC, the individual should be set with knowledge, experience and the networks to venture out on their own.
“For young people who want to be entrepreneurs, who are hungry to learn and ‘want a piece of the action’, this would be valuable development,” she emphasises.
Being an EADC is a great opportunity for individuals who are wanting to do something different with their careers. Individuals who have great EQ, are all-rounders and are interested in getting a headstart in the business world would be ideal for the job.
This is a great platform for those who eventually want to run businesses of their own. The nature of the role means that individuals will be given a lot of exposure to business dealings as they will be closely shadowing and fiercely trusted by their principal.
We are also committed to equip EADCs with the skills they need to perform their job well. We will be providing training in areas like etiquette, firearms safety and handling, and defensive driving.
Yes, the role pays very well, but the way I see it, the experience you would get being an EADC is even more valuable.”