Personal assistants asked to find classy strippers, book rocket flights and create Powerpoint presentation for Madonna

Time Etc’s fleet of virtual PAs, who work with some of the UK’s most high-powered business executives, have revealed some of the quirkier requests from their clients – and there’s not a dry cleaning receipt in sight.

One PA found herself researching how to book a seat on Virgin Galactic for the first flight into space, while another was asked to research a top class stripper for a birthday party. One client with two left feet asked his PA to book private dance lessons for him and a group of his male friends, so they could hit the dancefloor at their friends’ weddings without embarrassing themselves.

Other weird and wonderful requests included organising insomnia classes for a European royal and organising a shipment of politically sensitive documents to Rwanda. And one PA was asked to jazz up a Powerpoint document that was due to be presented to the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. Another assistant reads film scripts for her client, and makes calls on whether or not he should invest in the films.

Personal assistants are often called upon to organise their clients’ personal lives too. One of Time Etc’s PAs recently co-ordinated the purchase of a new family home for her client from viewings to completion, liaising with lawyers, surveyors and solicitors. She also organised the removals. Another PA was asked to organise the transportation of a beloved family dog from the UK to Australia to coincide with a client’s business moving overseas. The complex process took a total of six months to complete.

And clients can be most particular in their requests. One PA spent an afternoon trying to locate a particular brand of sun cream and arranged for it to be shipped to Dubai, while another was told to find and book a table at a restaurant that served kedgeree. One client asked his PA to source and order some rocket fuel.

Penni Pike was Sir Richard Branson’s executive assistant for 32 years and now mentors the Time Etc team. She comments: “Being a personal assistant often requires pulling rabbits out of hats. You are quite often required to pull off the seemingly impossible, calling on your contacts or your own initiative to make things happen. I once had to find Richard a Christmas tree at very short notice. Sounds simple, but it had to be delivered to a yacht moored off the coast of Cuba!

“Neither are your skills limited to assisting in business matters only. Executives are often far too time-poor to allocate enough time to their personal lives, which is why PAs might find themselves researching family holidays, picking up birthday presents for partners or children or even buying and selling their homes.”