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    The 4 Key Pillars to Becoming a Great 1st Assistant

    What makes a great 1st Assistant? Not just good, but great? For those of you out there looking to gain an edge once the industry fully goes back to work, this is a question worth asking.

    Becoming an exceptional 1st Assistant isn’t just a step up for an individual’s career, as any team that has a highly qualified team member in this role will definitely have an advantage in acquiring the best, most lucrative projects.

    So let’s dive into four key pillars for assembling the best possible 1st Assistant.

    Pillar #1: Be able to manage your team from Clerk to Key (and beyond)

    It takes a certain mastery to manage a team. One really has to know how to perform the tasks of each role, and have the ability to teach those to each team member.  

    Remember, your team extends far beyond the accounting bullpen. The crew is part of your team, and they play a big part in the success of the accounting department. They will also need your guidance and instruction.

    Tap into your experience and wisdom and do not discount the importance of mastering the best digital tools for the job.

    Pillar #2: Know where everything is and be able to prioritize your workflow

    Information is power, so it makes sense that having information at your fingertips is empowering. 

    One such area where information means power is with digital approval flows. With digital approval flows, you as a 1st Assistant can monitor your team’s productivity, locate high priority items, and manage all of your approvers so everything gets processed in an efficient and timely manner.

    You also need to be able to easily format and filter that information how you want it for when you need it. If your digital production accounting solution allows functionality like Custom Views, you’re going to be a step ahead. 

    Pillar #3: Understand the challenges when moving from paper to digital

    For anybody who’s been around for the transition from paper to digital, it was important to understand how and why our method of processing paper invoices was, for a time, so successful. 

    The main advantage paper initially had was that each item existed on its own first and foremost, and the secondary advantage was it could easily be grouped with other items, yet separated just as easily. 

    Some of you might remember folders, paper clips and staples…

    An invoice is an invoice, but could be grouped by vendor, or by routing folders, or by a/p batch. Yes, we accountants love to organize our world in so many different ways all at once.

    But in those first steps moving away from paper, and even in many cases still around today, digital tools didn’t equip us to make this process so malleable. Grouping digitally was a process that took too much time and effort.  

    We had to make a single file out of a group of files to be routed for approval, then we had to take each item and separate it, only to group it by vendor to attach to the check as backup.

    Once an invoice is input into the GreenSlate system, it becomes easily filtered or grouped with a few keystrokes and yet maintains its autonomy. Filter by vendor, or check number or check run instantly.

    GreenSlate helps overcome some of those legacy challenges.

    Pillar #4: Have a mastery of production accounting software like GreenSlate

    At GreenSlate, we’re continuing to develop real world training that can contribute to your continued career growth in these areas. 

    For example, we will of course train you up in how to use GreenSlate which will cover the mastery of accounting software, but also show you how to get the rest of the needed skills to become the best 1st Assistant you can be. Learn how to manage up as well as downstream.  

    We’ll teach you about the payable side of things, how to acclimate to a more efficient system, and you’ll learn how we have made filing invisible as well as how to personalize the UX to work the way you want to.

    I kept one of the biggest streaming series running through the pandemic so oh boy do I have some real world experience to share! You’ll have access to that real world knowledge through real world experience.

    So whether you’re an experienced 2nd looking to springboard through the break in service, who wants to know where to start and what steps you need to take to get on a path to 1st Assistant, or an already experienced 1st looking for a refresher, our training (and subsequent ability to help you find work) can help.

    If you’d like to know more about upcoming training and what we offer, connect with me on LinkedIn or reach out to me at

    Brett Gantt

    Brett Gantt is Senior Vice President, Head of Accountant Relations at GreenSlate. Gantt has over 20 years of production accounting experience with industry-leading content creators from studios to streamers, including Netflix, HBO (now Max), and ABC, and most recently independent powerhouse A24.

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