bonnie wooding

Running The World

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April 18  |  wttc our news  |   Andrew Maxwell

Running the World | WTTC Guest Blog

I was recently asked to participate on an advisory panel for my local university.  The panel’s purpose is to provide the Business Administration department with information on what skills and knowledge are current and relevant to an administrative role.

Admin assistants provide such a wide variety of support it’s proven to be quite a challenge to include all the skills one may need.

Admins cover many levels of responsibility within a company and work in many different structures.  I started my career sorting the mail, maintaining the database (data entry) and taking customer orders on the phone.

I’ve since worked in a typing pool, data processing department, and in desktop publishing and multimedia. I have been Office Manager, Admin Supervisor, and I’m now Executive Assistant to the CEO.

My responsibilities have ranged widely and I have worn many, many hats, sometimes all at the same time.

An admin can and does arrange travel, book meetings, train others and troubleshoot the office software, design and create marketing materials, and manage the boss’s calendar, time (and life).

We plan and run conferences, special events and staff parties, do accounts payable and receivable, run the petty cash and the company budget.  We have been known to pay the nanny, book the kids into ski school and camp, and supervise the latest house renovation.

I have personally been responsible for moving the office three times and have negotiated and signed contracts with hotels, consultants and vendors for office technology and furniture.  I have fetched coffee, run errands and travelled on business.  And, I have been held responsible for all that does not go smoothly in my executive’s day, including the weather.

I believe the skills needed to be successful as an admin are meeting management, calendar and time management, office management, technology (software and hardware), as well as administrative processes.  As part of this exercise, I listed the soft and hard skills for each. Wow! I am definitely not paid enough.  Four full pages of skills.

Being an admin is a tough job requiring a cool head, a thick skin, the tenacity of a bulldog and a keen sense of the absurd.

It is definitely not for the faint of heart. However, it is extraordinarily rewarding.

Very few careers offer so much variety and challenge.  And your opportunities are limitless.

Many times I have heard the old joke that the CEO’s admin is the one really running the company and I laugh with the rest.  But ….

Bonnie Wooding is a Guest Blogger with WTTC.com – The Meeting Planner’s Best Resource and the former President of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), a not-for-profit professional association for admins, with more than 30,000 members worldwide. She is currently co-cordinator of the upcoming IAAP International Conference, which is being held in Montreal in 2011.

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Working In The Temp World

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December 3  |  wttc our news  |   Andrew Maxwell

Temp Jobs

Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun.
– Colleen C. Barrett

I’ve been working in the “temp world” for the past few months, and much to my surprise, I find that I have been enjoying myself enormously.

I didn’t believe that I could temp for an extended period. I don’t enjoy the stress of not having a regular paycheck. But, I certainly have been enjoying myself in the short term –  new people, new experiences, new skills to learn, opportunities to see how other industries and organizations work.

Right from the get go — the agency interview process and even the testing — the process has been stimulating and fun. I found out a lot about myself and my skills — what I have that is marketable, and where I need to upgrade.

It’s a very tough market, so I registered with lots of placement agencies, both for temporary work and for permanent placements. But, I did limit my selection to those that I already knew and those that were recommended to me by friends and associates. Even with being selective, I registered with 23 agencies. That means I had 23 interviews, 23 testing sessions and 23 opportunities to polish my story. And, every agency has information, tips, and tricks that they are more than happy to share.

I am now very confident I can “ace” an interview and have overcome any stage fright that I might have had. Some agencies insist on multiple interviews — a telephone screening, the agency interview and testing, and then the interview with the agency relationship manager, who confirms that you are a “good fit” for their client — and this is for temporary assignments, not a permanent job.

Companies now insist on interviewing you, too. For one three week temporary assignment, I ended up interviewing with seven people! It sure has changed since the last time I was in the market.

Another thing that has changed is that there are far fewer actual temp jobs — short term assignments where you fill in for sick or vacationing staff. Companies are not hiring temps for these things anymore.  Temp assignments are for much longer terms now, as companies are using temps to avoid having to hire, especially during tough economic times. Most of the assignments I am offered are presented as “temp to perm” and you can expect to be there for at least a month or as long as a year.

The longer term assignments have allowed me plenty of opportunity to give the company a good look. I really wish I could have had this opportunity to check out some of my previous employers, before accepting the job offer. It is so hard to tell from just an interview.  I have found that sometimes I just don’t fit — perhaps it’s the boss or my co-workers or even the company culture. By learning what I don’t want, I have been able to narrow my focus and concentrate on the type of firm, position, and boss that I do want. The job I want is not going to fall into my lap. I am only going to find it with diligent research, patience and unstinting effort.

Temping is a good way to keep yourself in the market, a wonderful way to display your skills to a prospective employer, and the money keeps the wolf from the door. Quite frankly, it is nice to be able to walk away from my desk at the end of the day. When you know you are only there for a short time, you tend not to bring the usual stresses and worries home.

Bonnie Wooding is a Guest Blogger with WTTC.com – The Meeting Planner’s Best Resource and the former President of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), a not-for-profit professional association for admins, with more than 30,000 members worldwide. She is currently co-cordinator of the upcoming IAAP International Conference, which is being held in Montreal in 2011.

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Handling Career Challenges

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October 15  |  wttc our news  |   Andrew Maxwell

Career Challenges
Career challenges are affecting people at all levels.

The bad news seems relentless and the fact is downturns are a recurring fact of life in all businesses. They can happen at almost any time in any given industry, regardless of the state of the economy as a whole.

I always have seen myself as “lead with the chin” kind of gal, but I have to admit, these past few months have been trying.

As a matter of fact, my chin is pretty sore right about now.

If I could pass on only one piece of advice, it would be this;  sit down immediately with your budget and figure out how you can live on half the money you are making right now.  It may never happen, but if you have a plan in hand, the decisions already made and the compromises agreed upon, then you are ready to deal with anything that may come along, without panic.  You will be able to act quickly to minimize the damage.

I was amazed at how much we could eliminate without really changing our lifestyle too much.  I read about people who have decided to go a year without buying anything new, some because of their concern for the environment and landfills, and others because they were trying to show their kids that there is more to life than shopping.

Being unemployed is another good reason to join in these activities.  Many people have set-up barter clubs, where they trade items and skills.  Some have established car pool Websites.  They shop at second hand stores – recycle and reuse.  Most have gone through their homes and anything they have not used for the past year is either traded or sold.  It is excellent way of networking and you are helping the environment.

This is also a good time to re-assess your skill set.  With which version of Microsoft are you familiar?  Perhaps it is time to look at 2007?  When was the last time you put together a presentation from scratch, built a chart in Excel, ran a mail merge from Outlook or Access?

Do you use styles on a daily basis?  Do you create and use macros?  Can you build a Webpage or manage a Website?  And there are many, many new desktop publishing software packages available. When was the last time you learned a new one?  It’s much too easy to forget how quickly technology changes because, of course, your company only buys what it needs. In the past couple of months, I have taken two online courses (Excel and PowerPoint) and I am looking at taking an additional three on Website design and maintenance.

It would appear that the coming year will be challenging for everyone.  Make your plans now.  Set down the ground work.  Be prepared for the next change. Because, sure as shootin’, change will come.  Ensure your next challenge is exciting and fun, because you are ready.

Bonnie Wooding is a Guest Blogger with WTTC.com – The Meeting Planner’s Best Resource and the former President of the Toronto Chapter of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), a not-for-profit professional association for admins, with more than 30,000 members worldwide. She is currently co-cordinator of the upcoming IAAP International Conference, which is being held in Montreal in 2011.

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WTTC at IAAP Education Forum and Annual Meeting

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July 23  |  wttc our news  |   Andrew Maxwell

IAAP Education Forum

I’ll be attending the IAAP Education Forum and Annual Meeting this coming Sunday and Monday — July 26-27 — at the Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, Minn.  Look for us at Booth #408 where you can view a demo of our Website and pick-up some free swag.

The International Education Forum & Annual Meeting is IAAP’s premier event with over 1200 attendees. WTTC contributor, Bonnie Wooding, will also be attending and reporting on the event with me. Stay tuned for daily updates (depending on the Internet connection).

Andrew Maxwell is a partner at WTTC.com.

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