Personal Assistant--in-- Executive Support & Secretariat --team

In the Crick's Coo Executive.

Part of Crick Operations.

This role reports to the Head of COO Office, but also provides support to the Directors. The institute’s Personal Assistants work as part of a matrix team to support the senior research and operations leadership, providing cover for other team members where required, and taking on tasks and projects to support the broader operation of the institute.
Deadline for applications has passed.

Key information

Job reference
From £45,000 per annum
Applications closed
14 October 2021, 23:59 BST
Hours per week
36 (full time)
Posted 01 October 2021

This is a full-time, permanent position on Crick Terms and Conditions of Employment.

Context and organisational information

The Francis Crick Institute is a partnership between the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK (CRUK), the Wellcome Trust, University College London (UCL), Imperial College London and King’s College London.  It is a registered charity whose purpose is to conduct biomedical research into all aspects of human health and disease.  

The institute is a leading centre of biomedical research and innovation. It promotes connections between researchers and disciplines and between academic institutions, healthcare organisations and businesses.  Dedicated to research excellence, the institute has the scale, vision and expertise to tackle the most challenging scientific questions underpinning health and disease.  It has a strong national role — training scientists and developing ideas for public good.  

Key objectives and performance areas

  • The PA (COO Office) reports to the Executive Assistant (COO Office) and is responsible for efficient administrative, secretarial and project support to the COO, with whom he/she will have a close and direct working relationship.
  • The PA (COO Office) will provide cover for the Executive Assistant (COO Office) as and when required.
  • The PA (COO Office) will need to develop effective working relationships with staff in the Director’s Office and with other Crick directors and institute staff.  He/she may also be required to provide PA support to another director if and when required.

Essential duties and responsibilities

Effective Communication

  • Assists with facilitation of day-to-day operations and answers routine internal and external enquiries related to the work of the COO’s office.
  • Oversees the COO’s email inbox, drafting replies were appropriate and actively prompting when action is required.
  • Provides secretarial and administrative services as required, ensuring that written work is completed accurately, to a high standard and to the required timescale.  
  • Interfaces with institute staff, collaborators and visitors as a first point of contact to ensure communications to and from the COO are transmitted and received promptly. 
  • Exhibits complete discretion when handling details of a confidential and sensitive nature. 
  • Supports other PAs when required. 


  • Exercises judgment in dealing with queries, taking independent decisions or referring to others as appropriate.  
  • Keeps the COO, and any other directors for whom support may be provided, fully informed of all upcoming commitments and responsibilities. Acts as a “barometer” for emerging issues related to priority concerns. 
  • Makes collaborative decisions with colleagues within the executive support team on changes to operational processes affecting administrative operations across the institute.  

Planning, administration and organisation

  • Performs a variety of administrative tasks for the COO including, but not limited to: actively managing a busy calendar of appointments and meetings; preparing daily ‘diary packs’ for the COO containing all papers and information needed for that day’s appointments; coordinating logistics for meetings, interviews, and appointments; arranging and monitoring travel plans, itineraries and agendas; timely and accurate processing of expenses. 
  • Supports the operation of meetings, including preparing agendas, taking minutes and monitoring follow-up actions. 
  • Arranges tours and programmes for visitors to the building, including VIP visits when required.
  • Manages the items submitted to the COO through the Crick’s automated workflow management system, ensuring approvals and decisions are made on a timely basis.
  • Proactively provides and prepares briefing documents and ensures all paperwork is provided in a timely manner ahead of relevant meetings.  
  • Assists with the preparation of reports, correspondence and presentations. 
  • Regularly liaises with the EA (COO Office) and the COO to determine priorities and goals to maximise efficiency and productivity. 

Innovation and improvement (effective problem solving)

  • Uses initiative to resolve standard problems that arise, referring to the EA (COO Office), COO, and/or other staff as necessary.  
  • Takes responsibility for improving workflow and communications, ensuring that documents and files are in order and compliant. 
  • Reviews operating practices and procedures in order to determine whether improvements can be made in areas such as workflow, reporting procedures, or expenditures. 

Project work

  • Acts as a project co-ordinator/manager for the COO office, taking on ad hoc project work as required.
  • Works collaboratively as well as independently on projects to support the COO, the directors and the broader research and operations leadership. 
  • Specific projects will be allocated to the postholder.  This will be reviewed on an annual basis (or as necessary). 

Person specification

The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values: Bold, Imaginative, Open, Dynamic and Collegial, in addition to the following:


  • Bachelor’s degree (or equivalent). 
  • Significant experience supporting a senior individual, preferably in a research or academic environment. 
  • Analytical and organisational skills that reflect ability to perform and prioritise multiple tasks with excellent attention to detail.
  • High degree of computer literacy with proficiency in Microsoft Office suite.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to build and maintain relationships with stakeholders at all levels.  
  • Proven ability to handle confidential information with discretion.
  • Ability to prioritise tasks, work under pressure and handle competing demands effectively. 
  • Confident and articulate with excellent time management skills. 
  • Proactive, with the ability to work independently and take initiative, but also able to accept direction and seek guidance where appropriate. 
  • Flexible and results-oriented, willing to work flexibly where required to meet deadlines or support operational matters.