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2020 – What a Year!


Eth Lloyd – Former Chairman WA-Summit Advisory Council writes –

This year has been so challenging for everyone, in fact it still is challenging. The hard part is that it looks set to continue into 2021, possibly longer. Now that could be such a downer, but I have decided to look at what this year has achieved for our profession and especially for me personally as part of my commitment to supporting the administrative profession globally.

At the start of 2020, we were beginning to ramp up the preparations for the 11th WA-Summit Aug/Sept 2020 in my home city Wellington New Zealand. There was a team working to make this happen and after our successful 10th WA-Summit in 2018, we were all looking forward to it.

Then Covid-19 struck and it quickly became clear we would have to either postpone or, as we finally decided, split the 11th WA-Summit into two separate parts – the Business Session on-line August 2020 and the Discussions Session, which we at that time, still hoped would be face-to-face in May 2021.

We held the 11th WA-Summit Zoom Business Meeting 30/31 August 2020; it was a huge success. Delegates were well informed on the business decisions required and had consulted within their own countries.

The voting on-line was extremely efficient and quick. We learnt how effective holding business sessions on-line with 55 Delegates from 28 countries, across almost all time zones, could be and how it would work well.

Holding this Business Meeting led to the endorsement of; the WA-Alliance, the New Interim Chair (Helen Monument), and her new Interim Council. This endorsement allows Helen and her team to forge ahead developing how the WA-Alliance can best represent their member associations and therefore you, the administrative professional.

While there are aspects of face-to-face meetings that we cannot replicate, our four discussion groups on two topics, each with no more than 15 participants, all provided excellent input to assist the new WA-Alliance Council with their work over the next few months.

Holding the World Administrators Summit on-line has been discussed often over the last 10 years. It has always been something for the “future”. Roadblocks were usually seen as set-up cost, accessibility, and how will it work?

Covid-19 has moved those roadblocks aside and shown there is always more than one way to get things done, more than one way to connect, share and discuss, more than one way we can work to achieve the purpose of the WA-Summit to guide, influence and positively develop the profession. This WA-Summit achievement is the product of a very strange year.

This article will be my final on our website as regards the WA-Summit. My tenure ended 31 August 2020, though I continue to support those who have taken on the roles for the future. However, I too feel I have achieved some things. As the former Chairman of the WA-Summit Advisory Council here is my list over the nearly 20 years of my involvement:

  • WA-Summits have been held, in my time, in 2000, 2003, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2015 with the usual level of country involvement.
  • The 9th WA-Summit 2015 Papua New Guinea, the start of change – Delegates asked for research to be undertaken, by the then Advisory Council, on three specific topics.
  • The 10th WA-Summit 2018 in Frankfurt with 22 countries and 41 Delegates doubled the number of countries involved and they provided deeper discussions and more valuable outcomes.
  • Research reports on the three 2015  topics International Credentialing, International Networking, International Position Titles were shared with Delegates prior to the 10th WA-Summit for consultation within their own countries and feedback brought to the discussions. This process led to useful outcomes supporting administrative professionals as set out in the 2018 Outcomes document.
  • The 2018 10th WA-Summit Delegates asked for a replacement structure: a more resilient formal structure to better research, support, and advocate for them in the future.
  • As Co-Task Force Leader with Veronica Cochran, we saw the new non-profit trade association, World Administrators Alliance (WA-Alliance), being incorporated in the United States, we finalised by-laws, looked at financial processes, membership criteria, and started a procedures manual.
    • This step was endorsed by the 28 countries who had Delegates present at the 2020 11th WA-Summit Zoom Business Meeting.  
    • The new WA-Alliance was endorsed with an inspirational Interim Chair and a deeply committed Interim Council to take forward the work of; managing the WA-Summits, conducting research when requested, and providing advocacy and support to their members and thereby administrative professionals.
    • All this is to guide, influence, positively develop and elevate the profession
  • The 2018 11th WA-Summit Delegates asked for further research on the topics they discussed.
  • Six Task Forces worked on the outcomes from the 10th WA-Summit. All provided reports which are now being shared with the 11th WA-Summit Delegates for consultation within their own countries and to provide feedback. These reports will be finalised for presentation at the 11th WA-Summit Discussions Session May 2021.
  • I chaired my first ever WA-Summit Business Meeting held on Zoom with 55 Delegates from 28 countries, something I had convinced myself I would not have to do.

I feel my involvement has provided a launching pad for the future recognition of administrative professionals globally as a profession the same way nurses, builders, accountants, plumbers, teachers, electricians, etc all are seen. The work we all undertake is skilled, valuable, and essential. It is not “just work that women do”.

The next steps are in the hands of your WA-Alliance Interim Chairman and Council but importantly in your own hands through supporting them. Your support can be by participating in surveys, asking your association what is happening, seeking updates on progress on research, providing feedback and making use of the information and tools the WA-Alliance provides.

This WA-Alliance and its aim to guide, influence, positively develop and elevate the profession has been formed to support you the administrative professional. It is your profession make sure your voice is heard.

One Profession, One Voice

by Helen Monument – Interim Chair WA-Alliance

Networks have become my lifeline for the past few months. Not being able to get out and meet up with my tribe was a challenge at the beginning of lock-down, but I quickly came to appreciate the value of connecting on line to like-minded people. It’s how I have been catching up with my professional contacts, getting training, meeting new people and keeping up to date with what’s going on in the Administrative profession. I have joined new networks and formed new connections and relationships with some amazing people I otherwise wouldn’t have come across in a face-to-face world.

One thing I noticed is that the same people often pop up in different networks, which I love, as it gives me the chance to get to know them better, and to have very diverse conversations with them.

Today’s Administrative Professionals realise the value of an open professional attitude. They appreciate that when we help someone else, we are helping ourselves.  Knowledge and information have become the currency of an effective network and are there to be freely shared.

The important aspect of all these networks and connections is that they are not in competition with each other.  In our virtual world, we are much more ready and able to blur the lines between our networks in order to expand them. Sadly, that’s not always the case in the face-to-face environment.

In my long career, I have come across high level administrative professionals who clung to the thought that ‘knowledge is power’ and if they kept their expertise and skills to themselves, they would somehow become the ‘Queen Bee’ of the office.  They were afraid that if they shared their knowledge with colleagues and peers, then someone else could threaten their position.

Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.

Dalai Lama

Sharing your knowledge and skills with others will benefit your organization or business. Increasing the competencies of your fellow administrative professionals shows that you are collaborative, unselfish and fully engaged to give your executives the support they badly need.

The Queen Bees out there can become role models for less experienced peers, leading the way and showing by example what excellence means. By teaching others and sharing knowledge, we also learn.

The same applies to our Administrative community across the globe. Some countries have several associations or networks and some have none at all. The important thing to remember is that we are all in this together. We find the tribe that suits us best, for whatever reason we decide. We’re attracted to the network or association that speaks to us personally and we make a commitment as a member, but that does not mean shutting ourselves off from other peer groups in our country. Associations should never be in competition with each other and the WA-Alliance is in the business of bringing people together. I am sure that most associations mission and vision statements include the words ‘professional’ ‘development’ and ‘learning’.  So let’s be part of that rising tide that lifts all our boats. Reach out to other associations and networks in your country and work together on the common themes that bind us together. The World Administrators Alliance aims to create a global community of administrative professionals, associations and networks to come together to guide, influence, positively develop and elevate the profession. Let’s do this together.

Meet the WA-Alliance Interim Council

Written by: Helen Monument – Interim Chair WA-Alliance

Henry Ford said: “Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress and working together is success.”

As Interim Chair of the WA-Alliance, I am extremely proud to introduce the newly appointed Interim Council. Each of these people have stepped up to this role because they want to make a difference to the lives of admin professionals wherever they are, as you can read below. The binding factor throughout their motivation to serve is their passion and dedication to the objectives of the WA-Alliance, to:

  • guide, influence, positively develop and elevate the global administrative community;
  • provide continued advocacy;
  • provide greater global leadership.

Delegates will be asked to endorse their appointment at the WA-Summit on-line Business Meeting on 30th August.

Debra Chafe, from Canada. “I have come to the point where I am ready to help make all administrative professionals proud to say ‘what I do matters’, I welcome the opportunity to work with the WA-Alliance to help further advance the office administration profession globally.”

Jesse Egeonu, from Nigeria: “I want to live in a world where the administrative path is considered a viable career, with a structure that is globally recognized while building a strong alliance with industry leaders, interacting with professionals around the world, gathering valuable information on the various issues they are experiencing to include them in the WA-Alliance agenda.”

Vicki Faintfrom New Zealand:, “The administrative professional is at the core for driving and assisting change in respect to technology and the future direction of the workforce I am passionate about ensuring all admins have their voice heard and that the profession is viewed by all as a highly-skilled and respected career, not only now, but in the future.”

Barrett Shaw, from the United States: “I have grown so much as a result of the support and challenges from within this community, and I want to ensure that other administrative professionals have those same opportunities to exceed in their own lives and careers.”

Christine Stewart, from Australia, “My motivation for this role is to offer a flexible and highly professional approach, with a desire to represent and be an effective ambassador for the WA-Alliance with integrity and leadership.”

Ursula Warthafrom Germany: “I want to enhance the diversity of the Alliance. To live up to this objective, all continents have to be represented.”

I look forward to starting work with the team as we put the WA-Alliance on the map in the coming months. You will see regular updates on our LinkedIn page.

2020 six-month check-in

by: Eth Lloyd, Advisory Council Chairman

The first six months of 2020 have been hugely challenging for everyone. First, we have had Covid-19 to manage, a pandemic which has reached most countries in the world, affecting a huge number of people, potentially their life, their health, and/or their economic situation. None of those effects is positive and the loss of life is truly sobering; heart breaking for so many families.

Secondly, we have the “Black Lives Matter” movement from the tragic and unnecessary loss of so many black lives. This movement is particularly important, it is way past when this understanding should have already become a part of our everyday lives, and is steadily gathering momentum around the world.

One of the most enlightening articles I have read in the past few days, has clarified for me the meaning of “white privilege”, something I have been aware of for some time but, being white, have found so very hard to understand, define, or explain. This article is from “Yes” magazine, written by Lori Lakin Hutcherson and her words have much more impact than mine ever would.

I suspect the inability for many white people to honestly express our views in conversation or writing about colour (our own or others) may sometimes be partly due to the risk of offending others or of being offended. This inability for many white people to be honest, has been put into perspective by the honesty of the writer of this article.

I feel that this article is an important and valuable read for every person but particularly those who are struggling to understand, are potentially feeling challenged or even resentful of the term “white privilege”. I thank Peggy Vasquez, author of “Not Just an Admin” for sharing this on Facebook.

I also listened to an amazing and authentic posting by Ayanna Castro on Facebook. In this posting she described how she was feeling right now and that her “soul was tired”. She described her difficulties in explaining what was happening to her teenage daughters. This brought into clear perspective for me the ongoing and long-lived effects of racial prejudice, racial profiling, racial targeting, racial expectation that occurs for people of colour.

A further brief article from Nicky Christmas, Practically Perfect PA with a list of suggested reading will help each and every person to better understand what is happening. One of the suggestions in Nicky’s list, from “Fortune”, starts with a video discussion and listed a further enormous range of; articles, books to read and discuss, organisations to consider supporting, films and TV shows, resources for parents, podcasts, and more.

There is something in this list that will be of value to everyone. These articles will assist those who are unsure, a little confused, struggling to grasp how they can understand or contribute positively to the “Black Lives Matter” movement.

I am not saying these resources will suit all of you, or that they will give you “the” answers. However, the wider read we are the better educated and informed we are, therefore the better decisions we make and actions we undertake.

It is sobering for me to understand that while I come from a large multicultural whanau (family), that does not mean that I learnt anything about “white privilege”. My immediate family was pakeha (white) and therefore I was brought up with white privilege, I quite simply had no awareness of what that was. I was not brought up in a wealthy or entitled family, but it was pakeha so had the privilege that comes with white skin colour.

I am so comfortable with my extended whanau who are all a cherished part of my life. I just quite simply had no understanding of how living was or could be for those who were Maori – my sisters-in-law, my nieces and nephews, and now great-nieces and nephews. I had no understanding of whether they were comfortable with me or whether I was comfortable quite simply because they made things comfortable for me. I am proud of all my whanau for their achievements, but I had no idea what gaining those achievements was like for some of them. Was their path more challenging than mine due to roadblocks I didn’t face, was day to day living with unthinking comments from others something they experienced or expected? I was comfortable within my life and I assumed everyone within my whanau was comfortable too – now that is white privilege.

I am humbled and somewhat shamed by what I am now learning, I am sorrowful for what I did not understand and took for granted. I am OK being white, and I will continue to work to enhance my understanding of others.

WA-Summit Communications Team

Written by: Helen Monument Interim Chair WA-Alliance

Leadership guru Tony Robbins said: To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others. 

WA-Summit is about community, bringing Administrative Professionals together from all over the world. Each country has its own language and culture, so it’s vital that we communicate clearly and openly to all involved in our profession. 

Let me introduce the team that I’m honoured to Chair. Each of these people have a unique set of skills and talents that has come together to determine the Communications Strategy and to manage WA-Summit communications across all our media channels. 

A group of people posing for the camera

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Eth Lloyd, from New Zealand, is well known to all for her passion for the administrative profession and its value in the workplace.  She has spoken to Administrative Professionals globally on valuing themselves, taking responsibility for their own professional development, career pathways, the value of the profession and the outcomes of the 2018 10th World Administrators Summit. Eth is current Chairman of the WA-Summit Advisory Council. Eth currently manages the WA-Summit website. 

Julia Schmidt is based in Oslo, Norway and is known for being a passionate advocate of people development and in helping others succeed and embrace their leadership skills.  Julia writes about Organization Health and Wellbeing, Leadership and Career Development.  She is an avid influencer, speaker and mentor. Julia manages the Summit Newsletters and the LinkedIn channel. 

Diana Brandl is an International Speaker, Trainer and author, describing herself as a Digital Native. She has a strong background in communications and she is a dynamic networker. Diana is influencing the industry with her creative initiatives such as launching the hashtag #WeAreInThisTogether. From her home near Berlin, Germany, Diana takes care of WA-Summit communications on YouTube, also supporting Bex Adamson on the Twitter and Facebook accounts. 

Bex Adamson is from New Zealand where she works as an Administration Officer and is a Fellow of the Association of Administrative Professionals New Zealand (AAPNZ) where she was the recipient of the 2017 National President’s Award. A passionate advocate of the profession, Bex was also awarded the Administrative Professional Award in 2015, acknowledging her contribution to administration in New Zealand and giving her the opportunity to speak at a number of events around the country. Bex manages the Facebook and Twitter accounts together with Diana Brandl. 

Silvia Salomon is the latest addition to the team. She is the Task Force Leader for the Development of a Closed LinkedIn group from the 2018 WA-Summit, so it was logical that we join forces and invite her to become a member of the Communications team. She fosters a large international network of peers, constantly keeping up with the latest international trends.  Silvia is also Chairman of IMA (International Management Assistants) Italy. 

Communication is not a one-way street, so we need you to help us spread the word across our profession. Choose your channel and like us by all means, but it’s only by you commenting on and sharing our messages that we will reach the  global audience that will support the aims of the WA-Summit; to speak with one voice, to enhance the position of Administrative Professionals, and to build a solid community of passionate professionals supporting each other across the globe. 

Introducing WA-Alliance Interim Chair – Helen Monument

Written by: Helen Monument, Interim Chair WA-Alliance

I first met Eth Lloyd in 2003 at the World Administrators Summit in London so was already in awe of the work she has been doing tirelessly for many years.

We’ve met a few times since then, of course, and I didn’t hesitate when asked to be one of the Facilitators at the 10th WA-Summit in Frankfurt in 2018. I was very impressed on how much progress has been made in the intervening years and saw first hand how tirelessly Eth has been working, in front of and behind the scenes to bring the delegates, the Advisory Council and the working groups together to ‘speak as one voice’. The WA-Summit has never been better placed to achieve its goals ‘to guide, influence and positively develop the profession’.

So you can imagine how excited and honoured I was to be asked by Eth to take up the reigns, as she goes into long anticipated retirement in September 2020, in the role of Interim Chair to guide the next steps for WA-Summit, namely the formation of the World Administrators Alliance.

My career has spanned over 30 years, starting as an inexperienced Secretary, I was able to then grow and develop myself as I took on other roles in international companies as Management Assistant, Personal Assistant, Office Manager and Business Support team leader. I am a passionate advocate of our profession and have now transitioned to being my own boss of Monumental Assistance; sharing my experiences and expertise by training, coaching, writing and speaking at conferences for Assistants at all levels. I am also a former Executive Chairman of IMA (formally EUMA), so I understand what it takes to work across cultures with teams of volunteers for the benefit of our profession and for their personal development. What’s important for me in taking on this role is to give something back to our amazing profession that has given me so many wonderful opportunities.

Eth and I have already started working together. I’ve taken over the leadership of the WA-Summit Communications Team – more news about that to come. There is much to learn and I currently have more questions than answers. However, Eth has promised she will be just a Skype call away. Thanks to the support of the Advisory Council, the Future of the WA-Summit Task Force and all the delegates, I’m looking forward to working with you all and doing amazing things together.

The purpose of the WA-Summit of guiding, influencing and positively developing the profession is very close to my heart and I have great hopes for the future of our profession and I’m confident that the World Administrators Alliance is going to play a major part in shaping that future.

Administrative Professional Celebrations Like No Other


Written by: Eth Lloyd, Advisory Council Chairman

Administrative Professionals celebrations in 2020 will go down as being one of the most unusual, but one of the most innovative. The Covid-19 world pandemic has changed so much for so many of us – in our own roles as administrative professionals, for our families, our friends, our colleagues, and for so many hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people we do not even know.

Such a change could prove more than overwhelming, we could look like rabbits frozen in the headlights of a car. Some of us may have felt like that at times and some of us may still have moments like that to come. However, what we are seeing throughout the world is how, due to technology, those of us individually in the administrative profession and those of us who work with our profession to support growth and development, have almost universally found another gear. We have shifted what we do to another realm and kept things moving and happening.

It has become quite noisy and crowded on the internet with so many people offering webinars, support sessions, truly amusing and innovative glimpses into people’s lives, virtual conferences, virtual meetings, virtual social events, virtual exercise classes, virtual morning coffee sessions to name but a few. What the bulk of these activities provide is an enormous choice of ways to assist and support us through a challenging and extraordinary time.

The celebration of Administrative Professionals and the work they do is undertaken each year at this time. Throughout the world things happen sometimes significantly with a week of offerings, sometimes a day or an event and sometimes low key. There are usually professional development themes and recognition of our work within all the celebrations of breakfasts, lunches, dinners, speakers, discounted or free training opportunities, gifts, etc.

I was delighted last year to be asked to speak, through a recorded presentation, to the Administrative Professionals at SAP in the USA and their invited guests, as part of a day-long event. My presentation focussed on the “Past, Present and Future of our Profession”, but I did not mention anywhere how we could manage in a worldwide pandemic!

This year there are many opportunities for Administrative Professionals Day celebrations, all virtual. You could have celebrated starting at Monday of this week and been involved in something every day and at many different hours of those days. I wonder if this will be something that will carry over into 2021 and beyond – part of a new normal? I believe that some of the changes forced on us during this time will become part of our lives, just as detailed security checks became part of our travel world after 9/11.

The resilience and strength shown by every Administrative Professional during these current times is absolutely something to be celebrated, what I am seeing happening and being offered to celebrate and support you and your role is extraordinary.

Each one of you take your opportunity this week, at least once, to check in and participate in an event. Take this celebration of your role as something well earned, feel pride in what you are doing the support you are providing your employer and remember that you work in an awesome profession.

Happy Administrative Professional Celebrations to you all, whenever and however you choose to celebrate! I joined my own professional association AAPNZ for a virtual event with our National President and Lauren Parsons as our invited speaker, at New Zealand time 5.30pm Wednesday 22 April.

Impacts from Covid-19

Written by: Eth Lloyd, Advisory Council Chairman

I woke up yesterday morning, the first day of New Zealand’s four-week lockdown, and I felt so very sad. As I made my breakfast, I found I was crying. No-one had done or said anything negative to me, nothing had changed for me since the day before, so why did I feel this way? I then read a great  article shared on Facebook by Matt Want, Executive Secretary Magazine on That Discomfort you are feeling is grief which resonated deeply with me.

I fully support the measures being taken by New Zealand’s Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Jacinda Ardern and her government to manage Covid-19 and know they are the right things to do. However, I also know that I, and so very many people around the world, have had long developed plans and dreams disrupted. It is this disruption to plans and dreams, not so much the lockdown or the awfulness of Covid-19, that can lead to a feeling of sadness or grief. We do not need to compare our feelings of grief over something important to us with something that has been lost by others, as there is always someone worse off. We do however, need to recognise the feelings of sadness within ourselves for our loss and then work with those feelings for ourselves.

Additionally, I am not entirely comfortable within the social media world which right now is humming. So, there are a vast number of responses to the Covid-19 crisis from many fabulous people who are providing support, training, upskilling (as I need on social media) and a good dose of deep and true care and kindness. However, to those feeling as I do this can, for some, end up feeling overwhelming.

I have also found that this situation has raised my negative self-talk, usually along the lines of:

  • “You should know more about this …”
  • “You should be more visible by doing ….”
  • “So and so is doing xyz, why didn’t you think of that?”
  • “In your role as Chairman of the Advisory Council you should have ….”.

Honestly, this is the time when I really need to recognise that little duck on my shoulder quacking negative thoughts and remind myself how to “Shut the duck up!”, but I have been finding that hard to do. What is it about a crisis that encourages us to return to a self-defeating mode that may have been part of us in our past? I come back to it; it is a part of the process of coping with grief.

After reading the above article, I went out for a 10km bike ride and returned feeling more positive, more able to see what was happening for me, and understanding more of why I feel the way I do.

So, to take care of myself:

  • I need to acknowledge and accept the grief I feel at the loss of my plans and dreams for 2020
  • I need to accept that the milestones I was to have been celebrating this year can equally well be celebrated next year and will be more enjoyable away from this pandemic
  • I need to move my focus to preparing for 30 August – 1 September 2020 and Chairing the virtual WA-Summit business session for all Delegates including upskilling myself in Microsoft TEAMS; it is critical that we keep everything moving forward, to better support all administrative professionals around the world
  • I need to work with Lucy Brazier (Executive Secretary Magazine) and Helen Monument (Interim Chairman WA-Alliance) to provide support right now for the leaders of administrative professional associations around the world, who may be wondering what their future as an association will look like
  • I need to understand that difficult time zones mean I can’t attend every amazing session being offered and stop putting pressure on myself
  • I will join virtual sessions when I can, to show my support and awe for those who are offering so much, through many social media and communication platforms, to help and support others
  • I need to not be overwhelmed by what everyone else is doing and not be overcome by my own internal perceived inadequacies.

So, this posting is about helping myself to feel better about what I have lost as writing about things is something that really does help me.

It is also written with the intention that it may help others to understand that if they are feeling somewhat down or sad, especially if they are missing out on long held dreams and plans, they too may find the article referred to above will help them to:

  • reflect on their own situation
  • then take a little more time reflecting on what will assist them to manage those feelings.

We all need to support our own well being.

11th WA-Summit Postponed due to COVID-19 Pandemic

Written by Eth Lloyd, WA-Summit Advisory Council Chairman

Our world is in a situation that it has not been in for many years with a Pandemic being declared by the World Health Organisation. The rapid spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus has made our world less sure and less comfortable. Countries around the world have put stringent travel restrictions in place and this is impacting everyone.

Additionally, we have no clear idea of how long this situation will last which of course makes planning so much more difficult. New Zealand is a long way from the rest of the world and that makes getting here a significant expense for the Delegates of the 11th WA-Summit. The possibility of being required to spend 14 days in self-isolation on arrival is not something that can even be considered for anyone travelling here.

Therefore, the Advisory Council agreed regretfully that a postponement of the 11th WA-Summit was necessary and the responsible thing to do.

Delegates would be looking for the most economic methods to get to New Zealand and with many flights being cancelled booking future travel is just not sensible. Additionally, trying to book last minute travel may well be very expensive, a risk we could not take.

When Lucy Brazier decided that it was not possible to bring her Executive Secretary LIVE speakers to New Zealand in August for her event running adjacent to the 11th WA-Summit, then that was a further reason for us to postpone. Several of Lucy’s speakers were also Delegates at the WA-Summit, Lucy herself and Helen Monument were to be Facilitators. Additionally, Executive Secretary LIVE was an extra event that Delegates could attend as professional development, while they were in New Zealand if they wished.

All of the above contributed to the decision made by the WA-Summit Advisory Council to postpone to May 2021. Lucy will be bringing Executive Secretary LIVE back at that time as well. Once a date has been finalised we will promptly advise you and will be bringing updates and information on the 11th WA-Summit through social media, our website and our newsletter Summit-Up over the next months.

Not one of us knows what the next few months will hold, so on behalf of the Advisory Council I wish you all the very best, take care of yourselves, your families and your work colleagues where you are able to actually work alongside them. Follow the advice of health professionals and know that everyone is in a similar situation which for us all is very much an unknown.

The Administrative Professional Role Today

Written by: Chairman, Eth Lloyd MNZM, M.Ed. AAPNZ (Life, Fellow, Cert.)

Over the last very few weeks there has been a great deal of discussion about the administrative role – regardless of the actual title of the position.

This role was originally held by men, first called the “Keeper of the Secrets”, right up to the 1st World War and was considered an important and valuable role. In the 1800s and early 1900s many colonised countries were run by an Administrator, again always male (I am not commenting on colonisation, purely the title of what was considered a very important role). Today within the United Nations the heads of some departments are titled Administrator and of course the Head of the United Nations is the Secretary General. Many of these roles, even within today’s environment, are held more commonly by men and are considered prestigious.

The recent article by the Wall Street Journal on 18 January 2020, by Rachel Feintzeig, indicating that the role of the Executive Assistant was vanishing and basically wiped out an entire profession, which is of course largely female. I suggest it might not have been so easy to do had the role been largely male, though that is a different argument for another day.

Understandably there have been passionate, well informed and researched articles putting forward strong arguments against much of what has been included in Feintzeig’s article. They are written by internationally recognised figures within the administrative professional field:

  • Joan Burge who highlights that just because one industry (Ernst & Young) is removing some administrative roles from within their international business does not predict the whole role is vanishing
  • Bonnie Low-Kramen who discusses the changing role titles and expectations of today’s workplace affecting how these roles are recorded
  • Hallie Warner who discusses the fact that this is an unseen group in the workplace who need to stand up and speak out about their roles and their contribution
  • Lucy Brazier’s, article “The Dangers of being ill-informed”, includes a link to a vital survey for all administrative professionals.

All these articles are rebutting the Wall Street Journal article by Rachel Feintzeig.

Lucy Brazier’s article also reflects that the information being quoted isn’t deep enough to be of any real importance. Quite simply, the administrative professional role is frequently perceived by society to be something that “anyone can do” therefore it is unimportant and of little value.

In typical Lucy Brazier fashion, she has set out to internationally gather the information required to demonstrate, through presentation of a White Paper due in April, the worth and value of these roles. This is not about denying that technology is changing things in the workplace. This is about recognising what is changing, understanding these changes are well and truly underway with new technology which will enable the role to support improved growth and productivity within an employing organisation.

However, it is not solely about recognition that the role is changing, but is also about a whole profession, which is largely unseen and often unrecognized, taking a stand. Administrative professionals can make and state their case, step out of the background, be recognised for the significant contributors they are to business around the world through working with and alongside their manager. Be sure to complete Executive Secretary Magazine’s survey to take your stand.

This approach by Lucy is about recognition that those who work in administration do not spend their time making appointments, answering the phone, making tea, running errands and generally “housekeeping” within the office. This is about:

  • recognition of the valuable skills and capabilities held by this internationally primarily female (95-98%) workforce
  • their willingness to adapt to a changing environment (e.g. in the 1980s taking on computer technology, often with little or no training, making it work well for them, their role and their company)
  • their ability to take responsibility for many aspects of any change (e.g. become champions of new technology and training others within their workplace)
  • recognition that many technology changes have huge benefits for them and their organisation such as increased productivity
  • seeking new technology applications to improve their work practises and which match and fit with the working style of their manager.

Absolutely there will be some loss of roles, we live in a dynamic and changing world. However, those roles will mainly be task oriented and those tasks can be automated; for those affected this will be scary and likely a huge change in life for them. This is the same as happened within manufacturing where machinery and then computerisation took over most tasks that had previously been undertaken by factory workers.

However, the assumption that this will be the case for all administrative professional roles (remember there are internationally 150+ different titles within this role) is limited by the fact that few recognise the actual work these employees do. Not understanding the work undertaken by administrative professionals has led to incorrect assumptions often made by organisations, for example in restructuring who see this as an easy group to reduce or remove, most often not recognising the negative impact and the loss of skills and knowledge.

Because administrative work is often unseen, it can be easy to consider that it is unimportant, that it can be replaced by AI, or done by the manager themselves. We all agree some aspects can be undertaken by AI and will be pleased when that occurs. However, the impact of managers taking back some administrative tasks has led to very very expensive administrators who end up with little time to do the work for which they, as managers and senior managers are paid, often very highly.

Administrative professionals often have very strong so called “soft skills” which are currently being touted as the skills required in the workplace of the future. Those skills are often part of the essential support enabling the planners and the thinkers, within an organisation, to have the time to plan and think, something that is vital to their organisation progressing.

The 11th World Administrators Summit (WA-Summit), which is meeting in Wellington New Zealand 30 Aug – 1 Sept, will have much of the above discussion in mind. One of the topics to be discussed at the WA-Summit is:

“Digital Technology, Artificial Intelligence (AI) – strategies and tools to: attract younger people; upskill; retain; support; mentor.”

Change is always concerning for everyone; however, this is a change which needs to be embraced, absorbed and used to further develop and enhance the role of the administrative professional worldwide.

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