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.