Executive Dossier

Previously published on The Audacious Admin: A Resource for Administrative Professionals

Debbi Shaffer
IAAP Summit 2016 Speaker
Sessions during IAAP Summit 2016 include:

  • Travel Planning for the Administrative Profession
    7.24.2016 | 1:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Dos-si-er (noun) a collection of documents about a particular person, event, or subject.

Do you maintain a dossier on your executives? This is something I started in my first position as an Executive Assistant, but I don’t find it widely practiced among admins. I’ve come to refer to mine as my bible. It has all the pertinent information on my executives; credit cards, travel documents, passwords, travel reward programs, professional associations, and other miscellaneous information. I keep mine in a 3-ring binder and it is always close at hand, but definitely UNDER LOCK AND KEY. Obviously the executive dossier contains sensitive information, so it should never be left unsecured.

I have never entered a new position to find an executive dossier already established, but I have received notes of gratitude from almost every admin who has filled a position I’ve left for creating the dossier on the executives they now support. It makes life so much easier to have all that information within arm’s reach.

When I begin supporting an executive I like to schedule time for an “interview” with them. This interview is the first step in creating the dossier and includes questions about their immediate family, preferred communication style, travel preferences, food allergies, professional licenses, boards, and more. Depending on the comfort level between you and your executive, the next step is to photocopy credit cards, rewards programs cards, any licenses, travel documents, and any other info you may need to access.  If your executive is hesitant to provide this information, please don’t fret. Some are  comfortable turning over everything immediately, while others need time to build trust with a new admin before they are willing to share these details.

My executive dossier includes:

  • Organizational charts
  • Professional bio
  • Personal data sheet including:
    • Home address
    • Date of birth
    • Social security number
    • Spouse’s info
    • Wedding anniversary
    • Children’s names and birth dates (and grandchildren)
    • Travel preferences
    • Food allergies / Medical info
  • Spreadsheets of reward program information
  • Spreadsheet of professional license and membership information
  • Spreadsheet of passwords
  • Copies of:
    • Driver’s license
    • Passport
    • Any VISAs
    • Passport photos
    • Credit cards
    • Insurance cards
    • Professional membership cards
  • Travel rewards program cards

Do you maintain a dossier? If so, what else do you include?

Debbi Shaffer
 is an outgoing, resourceful and highly motivated executive assistant with 15+ years of experience specializing in “C” level executive support and has been an active member of  IAAP since 2010. She is respected as a strategic partner in the management of business activities, possesses excellent business acumen, a strong work ethic, and the willingness to accomplish assigned tasks. Her professional background includes experience in customer service, event planning, travel coordination, disaster management, fundraising, and the capacity to discreetly handle sensitive and confidential material. In 2014, Debbi launched Audacious Admin, a blog dedicated to sharing resources to enable all administrative professionals to be AUDACIOUS! 

10 thoughts on “Executive Dossier

  1. I do the same but add to the notes field in Outlook as a contact. Items I also have are asset numbers (computer for example) and network ids, needed for any IT assistance. We use a travel agent, each employee has a profile with preferences, as a delegate for him, I don’t need to store information in multiple places.


      • I’ll third the idea of the Outlook Contacts’ notes field as a VERY useful tool for the dossier. I also keep passwords, preferences regarding scheduling, preferences regarding standard work (helpful when another EA is covering me), and anything else I think might be useful. I support three executives and could never remember all of this without keeping detailed notes on each person. Great topic of discussion!


  2. Debbie is the best!!! She has so much powerful information to share!! Sad I will miss her and all of you at Summit 2016 but if you are going you should make it a point to see her!


  3. This also takes me back to my law firm days in the 90’s! We were required to have a typing stand with similar information left on our desk each evening. Woe be any secretary who forgot to put hers up.


  4. I have always kept something similar with frequent flyer numbers, credit card numbers, membership log-ins, basically anything I might need to make their job easier. It is great to see I’m not alone.


  5. Before I retired I supported 5 executives. I always had a binder on each one of my execs. Along with a general desk reference binder. Used them constantly. They were definitely life savers. When I was training my replacement before I retired and gave her all my binders she was so happy that I had started her on the road for success.


  6. Great article! I do something similar, but electronically in my Google Site. I call it my Admin Procedures Manual and I share it with my executive so he also has access to my passwords and doc’s as well. It has saved me so many times; like when I can’t remember a password (I have so many). Or when someone requests a bio on my exec, I can easily access it.


  7. I do maintain a dossier, and I too keep it in Contacts in Outlook. In this way I carry it with me wherever I go since I carry a company cellphone. I keep two other documents, as well. The first is a spreadsheet containing magazine subscription information (my manager loves paper magazines and periodicals). This information includes the website address for the publication, the user name and password associated with the subscription, and the expiration date of the subscription so I can renew if necessary. I also keep a spreadsheet that shows travel dates each month and the number of days my manager is out of the country. This not only gives me a good record to refer back to for expense purposes, but at year-end my manager has this source to remind him how many days he was working outside the U.S. to give to his tax firm for tax purposes.


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