VANESSA ALEJANDRA FARINO
Founder of Boston Executive Assistants
President of Boston Business Women
By: April M. Crehan
According to Vanessa Farino, “the executive assistant role is the new power role.” As such, those in her role need networking opportunities, professional development, and respect from those within their company and those outside of it.
“I think it’s important that employer and managers understand that our position is evolving” said Farino. “We’re operating as the CEO many times or C-level executives…we’re the extensions of them.” Not, as too many people say, “just” the assistant.
Farino’s role as an EA and her exposure to Boston Business Women (which she now heads as president) inspired her to start the Boston Executive Assistants organization.
“I had the idea for the BEA for a few years and i just never thought it was a good enough idea to pursue it even though I thought it was a very important gap that was missing in our industry,” she explained.
“I pretty much have taken my career in the past ten years and pulled out topics with all the things I’ve struggled with,” she said.
Farino is planning workshops on work-life balance, sexual harassment, and discrimination. The latter is especially personal for Farino, who is from a family of immigrants. Although she was born here, she went to Bolivia for military school when she was young.
At the time, the change was difficult, in hindsight, that tough atmosphere laid the groundwork, structure and discipline her career requires.
In addition to racial discrimination, Farino mentioned age disparities as a hurdle she has to overcome: she was the youngest employee at the first five companies she worked for and was also the office manager.
Fortunately, the executives she worked with were excellent mentors.
“My former executive - my first boss - hired me because he believed in me,” she said.
Farino hopes to teach other executive assistants (and aspiring EAs) everything she wishes she had known.
“Something that I live by is ‘we rise by lifting others,’” an attitude she attributes to her mother.
Another axiom she lives by is that “you get in life what you have the courage to ask for.” She says people often ask her how she got to where she is today in her career.
“Well, I asked for it,” she said. “If people say no, that’s fine: no for them, but yes for others.”