Helen Monument, Interim Chair, WA-Alliance, writes:
Around the world, Administrative Professionals are celebrating. Depending on your country or region, for one day, a week or the whole month. Admins are in the spotlight. And not before time. So let me start by wishing everyone a Happy Administrative Professionals day/week/month celebration, however you will be doing it.
Trainer and author Rhonda Scharf shares her top-10 tips for celebrating this special time here. There are some very original and inventive ideas, in case your boss needs some inspiration.
You may have received flowers or a gift from your manager already. I live in The Netherlands, and in pre-COVID times on Secretary Day, 15th April, I would see (mostly) men in suits lining up at the florist, or walking to the office with their arms full of flowers. I could tell who was an Administrative Professional as (mostly) women struggled onto the train for the home commute with bouquets and packages. Anyone seeing this would automatically think ‘Ah, it’s Secretary Day”. But what do they really know of the value of the role of the Administrative Professional?
Everyone needs to feel that they are appreciated, in all walks of life. How often do we say ‘thank you’ or ‘well done’ to someone? It’s very easy to take people for granted and Administrative Professionals seem to get the thin end of the wedge when it comes to being recognized and rewarded for their achievements. We shouldn’t be relying on just one day/week/month a year to receive appreciation for what we do.
How do you get recognition and reward for the amazing work that you are delivering day after day? In a 2020 article “Realise your Worth” in Executive Support Magazine, Sandy Geroux says that not everyone can express appreciation. “They may recognize and appreciate your talents but just can’t bring themselves to say anything. Appreciation doesn’t come naturally to some people, so they don’t express it. This does not mean that neither your talent nor their appreciation exists. All it means is that you will need to look inside and possess enough self-esteem to know it is there; it also means that if we look to others for praise, we may be in for a rude awakening and a very disappointing experience.” She goes on to say that even though someone can’t express appreciation, they have no problem with expressing disapproval. If things go wrong, we hear about it immediately, but what about when things go right? There’s usually silence, because Administrative Professionals are not in the habit of blowing their own trumpet when it comes to achievements and successes.
This is where performance management comes into its own. You should be having a regular (at least monthly) one-to-one meeting with your line manager to discuss your performance. You’ve set your goals together, so by tracking the status on a regular basis, you’re keeping each other informed of your progress. This is your opportunity to ask “How am I doing?” and your manager’s opportunity to give you appreciation and recognition for your successes, as well as giving you feedback on things that may not have gone so well. Then at the end of the year, at performance appraisal time, there are no surprises. If you have performed over and above expectations, then you should be rewarded and recognized for it. This could be reflected in a bonus or a salary increase. Of course, there is room every day for a ‘thank you’ and ‘well done’ from anyone in the organization.
I’m sure that everyone loves receiving flowers and gifts, and they truly are an expression of appreciation and thanks. But professional recognition and reward for the work that we deliver, as well as for the value we add to our our organizations every day, should be the driving force behind the appreciation that we receive, which will stay with us long after the roses have faded.
We are very excited to introduce our four facilitators who will each be leading a discussion group around the four topics chosen from input from our survey: Lucy Brazier, Karen Nanninga and Juanita Mort were with us for the 2020 Business Meeting, and we are delighted to welcome Heather Baker to the team for the first time.
After over 20 years working as a secretary and then PA, I pioneered the training of Office Professionals when I established Baker Thompson Associates in 2000. I now enable PAs, EAs and administrators of all levels around the world to achieve their potential for their career development and the success of their organisation.
I am the author of four Amazon top ten selling books and the creator of the BakerWrite speedwriting system. I am also an NLP Practitioner, TAP.cert trainer and three years winner of the North West Enterprise Awards Best Administrative Staff Training Provider. I am nominated for a National Business Women’s Lifetime Achievement Award and extremely proud to be a Prince’s Trust Business Mentor and a supporter of Isipho Admin in South Africa.
I am honoured to be invited to be a Facilitator at the WA-Summit and I can’t wait to connect with delegates from across the globe and be part of this very impressive community.
I am looking forward to my fourth Summit! Having been European Delegate myself twice, and a Facilitator at the WA-Summit in 2018 and the 2020 Business Meeting, I will once again contribute in my role as Facilitator. My whole working life has been around management support. I started my career as a management assistant in international companies in my home country The Netherlands and France. Then I took on voluntary positions within EUMA (European Management Assistants), now IMA, also as Executive Chairman (European Chairman). As an experienced trainer and consultant in the field of management support, as well as a business and life coach for professionals, I am passionate about accompanying people on their personal development paths. My objective is always to develop and mobilize personal potential and inner wisdom, to encourage people to take steps, to empower them to set and reach goals, to inspire them to live the life they want. Each person’s role goes beyond the job description, as we all bring unique personal competence, talents and interests to the workplace.
As Administrative professionals from all over the world, you are facing the challenges of defining your added value and proactively shaping your own roles, especially in view of the current state of the world that has directly impacted your organisations and your jobs. Let’s join forces during our sessions for a shared and profound message to our colleagues all over the world.
With over 25 years of experience as an executive assistant supporting senior executives and CEO’s, I have built a record of accomplishments through strong performance in high volume, high pressure environments. I skillfully manage administrative duties and am a staff trainer and mentor to new executive assistants.
Advocacy for the administrative profession is one of my great passions. My core belief is that admins and the vital roles they play in the success of their companies should be understood, recognized, and appreciated. Their voices should be heard and regarded as valuable. Passion drives success and success drives passion. Through my membership of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP), I have grown my network and enhanced my leadership skills through leadership roles at the local, regional, and international levels of the association. I am very excited to be asked to return to the WA-Summit as a Facilitator and look forward to inspiring and stimulating discussions and positive, practical outcomes.
As CEO of Marcham Publishing, publishers of Executive Support Magazine, my passion is for the Assistant role to be truly recognised as a career and not just a job. I am so grateful to have had great opportunities to train, present and chair in over 45 countries at over 400 events.
Working with the most forward-thinking, passionate and knowledgeable trainers in the world as well as personally meeting and speaking to thousands of people over the last six years, I have come to understand the issues that Admin Professionals all over the world are facing on a day-to-day basis. Speaking to literally thousands of Assistants over the last seven years has allowed me a unique overview of the role and where it’s heading. It’s a delight to be invited back to the WA-Summit as a Facilitator and I can’t wait to hear all your opinions, challenges and ideas.
Helen Monument, Interim Chair WA-Alliance, writes:
On 17th and 18th March this year, I attended ExecSecLIVE Global, the online event run by Executive Secretary Magazine. When it was over, I went for a much-needed walk. I was very happy that the sun was shining, as it really reflected my mood after being behind my screen for two and a half days. What an amazing event it was with so many inspiring speakers, so many enthusiastic participants, so many old and new friends to network with.
I was particularly pleased with the buzz that started around my interview with Lucy Brazier on the WA-Alliance Skills Set Matrix. The chat was on fire with comments, questions and great words of encouragement. This tells me that we are absolutely right to announce this tool to the world right now.
Spring has arrived here in Europe, it was wonderful to be outside in the fresh air and I started to notice that things were growing. Green shoots on the trees and bushes and even daisies popping up on the grass. There were spring flowers everywhere. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and crocuses each have their own conditions in which they thrive. They need the sun and the rain and the earth at different times of the year and in different degrees. They all have different names, but we see them all as flowers.
The name we give ourselves is very important to us, it gives us our identity. The WA-Summit surveys found that there are more than 160 job titles for what administrative professionals do. In the interview with Lucy Brazier, I spoke of Administrative Professionals, which is quite a mouthful, especially as I had to say it several times, so I shortened it to ‘Admins’.
There was a heartfelt plea in the chat window during the interview “Please don’t call me an Admin, I’m an Executive Assistant.” I can fully understand that remark, especially if you’ve worked diligently towards a certain position in the office hierarchy over many years and, of course, you’re proud of what you’ve achieved.
But whatever job title our organisation chooses to give us, it’s the content of our work and the skills that we need to excel in our role that are most important, as well as receiving recognition for what we do, and how we do it.
The Skills Set Matrix does not refer to specific job titles. It defines five levels of competence and the most common tasks that you can expect to do at each particular level as well as the all-important skills that are required.
The WA-Summit report on International Position Titles from which the Skills Set Matrix was born is based on research from our survey of over 3000 Administrative Professionals that showed:
Position titles are a crucial element as to how the business world operates. Yet, the careers of many administrative professionals, roughly 1/5th of the world’s employed population, are defined by job titles and descriptions that are inaccurate, ambiguous and varied within organisations and across the globe.
The information contained in the Matrix is intended to assist you as an administrative professional in understanding where you fit and how you can progress. It is also to assist your Executive, your HR Department, Recruiters and Educators to better understand the roles administrative professionals fulfil, the structure and range of tasks within those roles, and show a clear career pathway for those who wish to progress. It is certainly not intended to change position titles within your organisation or your country. Neither is it a ‘one size fits all’, which would of course be an impossible task. The report concludes that:
The most common title for administrative professionals is “Administrative Assistant” with “Executive Assistant,” “Receptionist” and “Office Manager/Administrator” as runners up. The title of “Secretary” appears to be in declining usage considering occupational data of the past.
This conclusion is affirmed by the decision of Executive Secretary Magazine to rebrand on its 10th anniversary and take on a new name: Executive Support Magazine. Congratulations to Lucy Brazier and her team for taking this step forward.
When we at the WA-Alliance talk about our community, we refer to Administrative Professionals, sometimes shortened to Admins for simplicity. It’s a purely overarching term that we use globally, so please don’t let that distract you from our main message, which is that we are all in this profession together, that we need to raise our voices as one to show Executives and HR Managers the value that we bring to their organisations.
Helen Monument, Interim Chair WA-Alliance, writes:
You know that feeling you get when you’ve been able to do something totally selflessly for someone else? Isn’t it great?
According to the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, simply by performing one random act of kindness a day, your stress, anxiety and depression will be reduced as your body is flooded with the same hormones that make you become calmer, healthier and happier.
So if just one selfless act makes us feel that good, just imagine how you will feel when you freely give your time, your skills and your attention to an organisation as a volunteer.
There are great benefits to volunteering:
Your personal or professional aims align with those of your chosen organization or cause.
You meet like-minded people.
You learn new skills in a safe environment.
You build your confidence & self esteem.
You give something back.
You enhance your career.
You become part of a community.
The essence of life is to serve others and do good.
The World Administrators Alliance and the WA-Summit totally depend on volunteers and we could not do it without them. Yes, we will be inviting paid membership to Associations, Networks and administrative professionals, but we don’t have anyone on the payroll, and all the work that is done by the Interim Council, the Communications Team, Task Forces and Delegates is given freely and willingly.
The great thing about volunteering to support the WA-Alliance is that you have the opportunity to make a difference. Delegates at the WA-Summit have worked incredibly hard since the WA-Summit started almost twenty years ago to produce and manage surveys, analyse data and produce reports, documents, papers and guidelines that are made available on our website. All for the benefit of the Administrative Profession about which they are all so passionate, so we applaud them and their commitments.
There are also some aspects of volunteering that might make you think twice before putting up your hand:
The project or task turns into something bigger than you thought.
You may end up burning the candle at both ends.
Co-volunteers may fall by the wayside, leaving more work for you.
Things may take much longer to achieve.
Volunteering is all about the commitment that you are prepared to make. Often, we put up our hand in the heat of the moment, without giving enough thought to the time and effort that’s required. Then when we get back into the daily routine, life takes over and our focus shifts.
Taking up a role in a voluntary organisation is like having a hobby. You enjoy doing it, so you make a conscious decision to commit your time to it. You understand that the more time you invest in it, the greater the benefits will be.
If you decide that the pro’s far outweigh the con’s, then put up your hand and get involved by becoming a delegate at the WA-Summit. We’d love to have you with us.
We are delighted to share with you the dates for the 11th World Administrators Summit.
We’re all aware of the current COVID restrictions and we must comply with them. Instead of meeting face-to-face in Wellington, New Zealand as planned, the 11th WA-Summit will be virtual and will take place in two parts as follows:
Saturday 8th May and Saturday 15th May
13.00 to 17.00 hrs, Central European Time
We have done our best to find the most suitable time of day. Of course, we won’t be able to please everyone, but are confident that we will have maximum participation for this important event.
The Business Meeting held on 31st August 2020 was very successful, with 55 delegates from 28 countries attending. This proves that we can still carry on the important work of the WA-Alliance, without being face-to-face.
The WA-Summit programme is usually spread over two consecutive days with a day-long agenda. However, when moving to a virtual format, we are very aware of the time zone differences and the effort required to stay focussed and engaged during an all-day online session. That’s why we have decided to spread the Summit across two days, and reduce the programme to four hours each day. Having a week in between will allow us to collect the outcomes from the facilitated discussions on Day 1 ready to present on Day 2. The draft agenda is available here.
With an online Summit, we don’t require Expression of Interest forms. Invitations will shortly be sent to former Summit Delegates, associations and networks around the world with full details. As with the 2020 Business meeting, we will be requesting an attendance fee of US$45,-
Only formal country Delegates may attend the WA-Summit and each country may have up to three (3) Delegates, one of whom is the designated leader.
All Delegates will be expected to attend both days and must have completed a Delegate Credentialing Form and been accepted as a Delegate by the Interim Council prior to attending. Links to the relevant documents can be found on the WA-Summit website.
Please save the dates in your calendar and look out for new announcements.
This is your event and your chance to participate in shaping your profession throughout the world and for the future. We appreciate your input on discussion topics and your views through surveys and online engagement that enables meaningful discussions at the WA-Summit.
Helen Monument – Interim Chair WA-Alliance writes,
According to a study byMcKinsey, in the pandemic, women are 1.8 times more likely than men to lose their jobs. As the majority of Administrative Professionals are women, this is having a huge impact on many of us. So what will the future world look like for our profession?
One prediction by the World Economic Forum in theirFuture of Jobs Report lists Administrative and Executive Secretaries at the number two spot of the top ten jobs that will be displaced by a shift in the division of labour between humans and machines by 2025.
The media also is full of stories about how we have already adapted and changed our ways of working. All the experts agree that work will definitely never be the same again. Research by Slack’s Future Forumof over 4000 knowledge workers found that only 12% want to return to full time office work and 72% prefer a hybrid remote-office model. According to John Trougakos, Associate Professor, Organizational Behaviour and HR Management at the University of Toronto “The key is to focus on keeping workers productive and healthy by giving them the freedom to work in ways that suit their needs while also meeting corporate objectives. Proactive and progressive companies will take this opportunity to embrace this new normal and turn it into a competitive advantage while simultaneously improving the lives of their workers.”
There is a huge role for the World Administrators Alliance to play in building a strong community to support our member Associations and Networks and help them to collaborate with other so that they can prepare their own members for the post-Covid future, whatever it may look like.
It seems like no time at all since our online Business Meeting on 30/31 August, when the WA-Summit delegates endorsed the formation of the World Administrators Alliance. The WA-Alliance Interim council is 90 days into its term of office, and how time flies! We have been working hard on setting up all the processes and procedures necessary to get the WAA off the ground.
Included in the input from the Business Meeting Delegates breakout groups was the question: ‘What do you want to see from the WA-Alliance before May 2021?’ There is a great deal of valuable data and of course, we cannot do everything within twelve months. The mandate of the WA-Alliance Interim Council is to set up the governance, which means organising the systems and procedures that are needed to get the WA-Alliance off the ground. The most important activities are described below.
Of course, there is a great deal to manage and to organize. After the twelve-month interim period, there will be elections for all seven positions on the Council. Members will be able to vote during the Business Meeting that will be held in Q3 2021. It will then be the responsibility of the elected Council to take the preliminary work of the Interim Council forward to the future.
We have purchased Microsoft licenses so that the WA-Alliance Interim Council now has its own Outlook inboxes and Microsoft Teams account. MS-Teams will be the collaboration tool for the WA-Alliance moving forward, so that the Council, the WA-Summit Task Forces and Communications Team have their own Channel, to communicate and to collaborate. All relevant documents are being stored within these channels, to ensure consistency, continuity and transparency. More channels can be added as required for working groups or task forces.
An online bank account has also been set up, under the management of Treasurer Ursula Wartha. Guidelines are being put in place to manage this correctly.
We are also in the process of setting up a membership database using Wild Apricot software, that will enable us to manage membership applications, contacts, WA-Summit registrations, invoices, newsletters, mailings and surveys.
The Way Forward
Delegates also asked for a ‘road map’ for the WA-Alliance. Using the aims of the WA-Alliance as the spearheads for our activities, we have made a start of the Way Forward, as shown below.
Each of the WA-Alliance aims will eventually be distilled into measurable goals that will be manged by the WA-Alliance Council, with the support of our members. This is still very much a ‘work in progress’ and by no means complete. It will be a living document as the future elected Council takes up the process. Each spearhead will have its own measurable goals, activities and timeline. Next month we will show the details for the first twelve months of the WA-Alliance.
Members are at the core of the WA-Alliance and setting up the correct membership categories is a very important part of our formation, so we need to get it right. After consultation with the delegates, the WA-Summit Advisory Council – Future Task Force worked for 18 months to develop the requested structure ready for endorsement at the 30/31 August 2020 Business Meeting. Subsequently, the WA-Alliance was established as a non-profit trade association in the USA. Do not be put off by the word ‘trade’, it’s a rather old-fashioned term for ‘professional’. So, most of our members will be Administrative Associations and Networks from across the globe. There are some countries who have not established any such networks or Associations, so individuals from those countries will also be welcomed as members. We also cannot build a global community without the help and support of the many industry stakeholders who have made a great contribution to the WA-Summit in the past, who support our aims and whose voices we need to hear. These will include professional trainers, educational institutes, administrative magazine publishers and training companies. There is a seat and a voice at the WA-Alliance table for them all as we build this global community. The WA-Summit will continue as the working meeting held every two years, under the auspices of the WA-Alliance.
First published in Executive Secretary Magazine, this article by WA-Alliance Interim Chair Helen Monument, introduces the Skills Set Matrix, a game changer for the Administrative Profession.
Helen Monument introduces the Skills Set Matrix from the World Administrators Alliance and explains the next steps
In a career spanning three decades, I have had many different position titles in many different companies: from Receptionist, Secretary, Management Assistant, Team Assistant, PA, EA, Business Support Manager, Admin Team leader to Office Manager.
All of these roles were different and as I progressed from role to role, the tasks and requirements changed as I learned new skills and took on more responsibility, but the red thread going through them all was that of administrative support, in one way or another.
One of the challenges I always had, however, is that the ‘outside world’, including colleagues, executives and HR managers, did not know or fully understand exactly what my roles entailed, what skills were required to do those roles, or the value that what I was doing was bringing to the organization, over and above the ‘admin’ side of my daily work.
Yes, I had a position description each time I started a new role, but most of them were just a list of the day-to-day tasks like diary management, travel booking, expense reports etc. With some roles I had, I often discovered after a month or two that there were not enough hours in the day for me to achieve what was piled onto my desk or flooded into my inbox. Often a new responsibility was added, such as Website Manager, Office Emergency Team Leader, SharePoint manager, Information Compliance Manager and Data Privacy Focal Point. It wasn’t until halfway through my career that I felt confident enough to speak up and propose my own position description, based on the requirements of my role, competencies and the qualifications and level of expertise that were needed and that I had gained.
Misunderstood and Undervalued
When talking to other administrative professionals, I constantly hear their frustration of working in an industry that is seriously misunderstood. Often their role is perceived as ‘just an admin’. Colleagues with professionally recognized position titles are given growth and development opportunities that aren’t open to administrators because their company or executives don’t recognize their role as being a “Profession”.
This is partly due to there being no globally recognized qualifications for our role. Although some employers may require candidates to have minimum qualification at a specific level, and some may prefer degrees, there are no formal academic qualifications required as standard.
Many position descriptions or position advertisements for administrative professionals are written by HR specialists or recruiters who fail to fully grasp the complexities of the role and the numerous ways in which administrative professionals support their executives.
Because of this lack of understanding, the role of the administrative professional is grossly undervalued, adding to the inability of organizations to fully utilize the enormous potential that is available to them.
The value that administrative professionals bring to the workplace can be so much greater with the right approaches to the correct training and education, with the right frameworks and ways of working, and with a better understanding of how they can assist their manager and their organization.
A Unifying Framework
Position titles for administrative roles vary according to the employer. In some organizations, the titles ‘personal assistant’ and ‘executive assistant’ are interchangeable. In others, an executive assistant is more senior than a personal assistant and will take on more responsibility, such as some corporate governance or team organization work. In some organizations, a personal assistant role is an entry-level role; in others, it requires a great deal of experience and is paid accordingly. It’s no wonder the outside world is confused, when even within the profession there is no alignment of the position titles.
Wouldn’t it be wonderful for our profession to have a unifying framework that makes it possible to identify levels of work for a given position or role profile?
Well, you can stop wondering, because the Skills Set Matrix is coming.
The Skills Set Matrix is Coming
Created out of the 10th World Administrators Summit discussions, chaired by Eth Lloyd, the Skills Set Matrix is based on data collected from a 2017 global survey of over 3000 administrative professionals who answered detailed questions on position titles, tasks and perceptions of the role. This led to the International Position Titles Report, held on the WA-Summit website, and was accepted by the Delegates at the 10th WA-Summit.
The 10th WA-Summit delegates discussed a new topic on International Position Descriptions and agreed that the skills sets required go hand in hand with the very many position titles being used for administrative professionals world wide, and so the Skills Set Matrix was born.
It describes five levels of competency, from entry level to the top echelon of administrative support. It shows the common tasks and skills required and it compares the key differences between the five levels. It also has space to show the common professional and academic credentials required and where they fit into each level. It contains links to Role Profiles for each of the five levels.
Administrative professionals, HR departments, executives and training institutes will be able to use this framework to determine career pathways, performance expectations and salary expectations for a role that currently is defined by over 160 position titles – yes, you read that right, 160!
Whether you are just starting out in your career as an administrative professional or are looking to take the next step on your career ladder, this Matrix is for you.
The Skills Set Matrix Task Force is led by Vicki Faint (New Zealand) and is made up of a broad representation of WA-Summit delegates and industry representatives: Nita Rebello (India) Reporter; Cathy Harris (South Africa); Wendy Rapana (New Zealand); Florence Katono (Uganda); Andrew Jardine (United Kingdom) and Veronica Cochran (United States of America) Advisor.
One of the strengths of recent work undertaken by the World Administrators Summit is its ability to collect data from administrative professionals and industry experts through surveys from across the globe. One of the challenges for the task force was to determine which of the hundreds of different tasks and skills reported on in the survey fit into which level. This is always going to be disputable, as there is so much variety in the 160 position titles reported in the survey and this needed to be distilled into the most common position titles used globally.
The Skills Set Matrix is being finalized as we speak and will be shared with the WA-Summit delegates for consultation before being published in 2021.
A Living Document
Of course, it can never be a ‘one size fits all’, simply because of the huge differences between education, business practices, culture, and economics in all countries across the globe. It is also not set in stone, but is to be treated as a living document, that can be amended as societies and the business world change.
The Skills Set Matrix is a gamechanger for an industry that is currently seen by many as ‘just a job’ and not the valuable profession that it is. It is the first global guideline that has been produced with direct and quantifiable input from the people who are at the sharp end of the profession, the administrative professionals themselves. Administrative professionals across the globe are crying out for recognition for their role as an integral part of the business. Not only recognition, but a clear career path and salary to match.
What is the World Administrators Summit?
The World Administrators Summit is the most prestigious international gathering of leaders for the administrative profession globally. It started in 1992 in the US and is now held every two years. Due to COVID 19, the 11th WA-Summit Discussion Groups will be held in 2021 and will be virtual. 2022 is scheduled to return to the USA in Nashville, Tennessee for the 30th anniversary.
The WA-Summit brings together the best and brightest minds in the administrative profession today. The delegates from each country discuss topics of importance to all administrative professionals and develop credible outcomes that are shared around the world. The outcomes from each summit also contribute to our World Action Plan entitled Administra.
What is the World Adminstrators Alliance?
The newly formed World Administrators Alliance is the governing body endorsed by the 2020 11th WA-Summit Business Meeting of Delegates from 27 Countries. As a non-profit trade association, it represents administrative associations, networks, and professionals from across the globe. Its purpose is to guide, influence, develop and elevate the administrative profession, to create a global community that works together for the benefit of all.
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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.
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 costs, 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.
While there are aspects of face-to-face meetings that we cannot replicate, our four discussion groups on two topics, in breakout rooms and 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.
This article will be my final one 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. 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”.
However, I and those I have worked with have achieved many 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 was 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.
The 2018 10th WA-Summit Delegates asked for further research on the new topics they discussed.
The 2018 10th WA-Summit Delegates asked for a replacement structure for the informal Advisory Council: a more resilient formal structure to better research, support, and advocate for them in the future.
These processes led to credible and useful outcomes supporting administrative professionals as set out in the 2018 Outcomes document.
As Co-Leader, with Veronica Cochran, of the WA-Summit Advisory Council – Future Task Force, we saw the new non-profit trade association World Administrators Alliance (WA-Alliance) be incorporated in the United States, we finalised by-laws, looked at financial processes, membership criteria, and what membership fees might be.
The new WA-Alliance was endorsed by the 28 countries who had Delegates present at the 2020 11th WA-Summit Zoom Business Meeting.
The new WA-Alliance governing body 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
Six Task Forces have been working on the outcomes from the 2018 10th WA-Summit. All have provided reports.
These reports are now being shared with the 11th WA-Summit Delegates for consultation within their own countries and to provide feedback. They 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 never have to do. You can read the 11th WA-Summit Zoom Business Session Meeting Summary here.
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 on 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. This is your profession, so make sure your voice is heard.
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 wayto achieve immortality.
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.
Written by: Helen Monument – Interim ChairWA-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 Faint, from 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 Wartha, from 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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.
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-Kramenwho 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
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
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:
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.
NB: All the links highlighted in this article are articles listed on this website, go to the Home page and scroll scroll down.
After the WA-Summit in 2018, Frankfurt various Task Forces needed to be formed to further develop the outcomes that had been agreed in Frankfurt. Additionally, the Advisory Council had to be reformed.
I started that process late 2018. However, as these are all voluntary roles and
there were various hold-ups (e.g. Delegates returning to work after time away
at the WA-Summit, Christmas, etc) this has taken some time. By June 2019 all
the Task Forces were formed and most regions in the world have a representative
on the Advisory Council.
The Task Force Leaders were recently introduced on Twitter and Facebook and their Task Forces are working on:
1. International Credentialing – continuing work from 2015 and split into two parts:
Industry/Professional Certifications – led by Cathy Harris, South Africa.
2.International Networking – setting up our own LinkedIn Group – led by Silvia Salomon, Italy.
3.Skills Set Matrix – leading out of the research we conducted in early 2018 on position titles and the new topic on position descriptions – led by Vicki Faint, New Zealand.
4.Image of our profession – split into two parts:
Developing Templates to assist your own personal and professional development – led by Karin Helene, Sweden and Vania Alessi, Italy
Developing a White Paper on the discussions in Frankfurt on this topic – led by Eleni Rizikianou, Greece.
5.Workplace Harassment – providing information and tools to assist administrative professionals in identifying and managing this in the workplace – led by Susan Engelbrecht, South Africa.
6. Developing a new structure for the Advisory Council – developing a more responsive and resilient body to better meet the roles required in running the WA-Summit and the research being undertaken. This body to replace the Advisory Council is to be called the WA-Alliance. We have purchased the domain name “WA-Alliance”, so that in the future if we require a separate website for this body, we have ownership of that – led by Veronica Cochran, The United States of America and Eth Lloyd, New Zealand.
7.Updating Administra – capturing requested items from the 2018 discussions within our World Action Plan – led by Eth Lloyd, New Zealand.
Those leading and participating in these Task Forces mostly are not members of the Advisory Council. As Delegates at the 2018 summit in Frankfurt, they volunteered to work on the specific topic to which they felt they wished to contribute.
However, each Task Force also includes at least one member of the Advisory Council. The Advisory Council members allocated to the Task Forces assist through their input as representatives from their region and in reporting to the Advisory Council regularly. Updates on their activities will be shared with you through social media and our newsletters over the next months.
We launched our new website on Monday 14 October 2019, it has the new domain name of “WA-Summit”. There are a few things that need finalising still, but it was important that the site was available. A new part of the new website is that we have the facility to share a newsletter. We will use these to report on the Task Forces activities and they will also be shared on social media. We expect that these newsletters will come out approximately three-monthly, though more frequently closer to the 2020 event.
It can be very challenging for the Task Force Leaders to get the responses they require from their groups. This is based in a variety of issues, not least the fact that everyone involved has many other commitments. There is also an effect on geographically spread groups that individuals can believe that “they do not need to respond as the others will have”, which often leads to no response being received at all. This can be very disheartening for the Task Force Leaders, it leads to them feeling they are working on their own and everything they share disappears into a “black hole”.
This difficulty often happens when the initial desire to participate is overtaken by the day to day commitments of each person’s expectations from work, family and even their own professional association. The Advisory Council members on the Task Forces are being asked to work, alongside and in support of their Task Force Leader, to assist bringing their groups into contact with each other.
The Advisory Council and the Task Force Leaders are all very aware that there are now only 10 months until the 2020 WA-Summit. That the outcomes from each Task Force need to be shared with every country from the beginning of June 2020, which is not very far away now.