Day Five: 12 Days of Real Careers

This  #12DaysOfAdminProfessionals celebration of peers you respect continues to grow.

Alongside those celebrations, here on Day Five, I’m bringing you excerpts from some more of my Real Careers interviews. If you’re ready for some inspiring reads, here are  more gifts of experience, highlighting skills and professional approaches that benefit all.

If you’d like to read any of the full interviews, just click on that individual’s name below.


Write a business plan for what you would like to achieve and how you would like to achieve it

Alison Boler was born and raised in Kent in the south of England, and lives in London. She discussed the role of social media in her role at Sony Music UK. “All social media is an essential means of connecting with our artists, management and other employees. It is a great means for me to also promote our bands/artists to my own followers.”

We also discussed technology’s impact on the career. “I think all PAs have experienced the situation where new technology or equipment is introduced (sometimes overnight) and you as the PA are expected to be an expert in it to assist everyone else. When I first started as a PA in the late 90s, we still used typewriters and only the boss had an email account. From then on, technology changed at breakneck speed. You have to be open and flexible when the change happens and not be afraid to ask for more training. I think you have to have the attitude to be flexible and adapt and embrace all new technologies.”


Remain relevant in the workplace through technological understanding and skills currency

Todd Perrine was born in Illinois, and lives in Indiana, USA. In his interview, Todd noted that, while his college degrees have opened doors for him, “… it is my technological understanding and staying current with my skills that have kept me relevant in the workplace.”

Interested in advancing your career? Here are Todd’s recommendations. “Read a serious business publication or newspaper each day. Knowing what your company does to make money, and how things going on in the wider world may impact your company, are vital. It is a very safe bet that your executives are reading those publications, as well. By reading, I don’t mean that you have to read every word. Just scan the headlines, and read the articles that do interest you. Being aware that certain events have happened or are going on can also be a good ice breaker at the office.”


Exercise discretion

Chantal Sneijkers is from Belgium. She lives in Lede, a town situated between Brussels and Ghent. What insight would have been helpful early in her career? “Be discrete. Sometimes, early in my career, I got emotional and I wanted to help people so I talked too much. I’m still an open book but I have become much more discrete.”

Chantal also discussed the significance of IMA, International Management Assistants, to her career. She’s held a number of leadership roles in the association, previously known as EUMA (European Association for Management Assistants), since joining it in 2002. As Chantal said, “Being a member of EUMA changed my whole professional world. I learned and continue to learn so much that I bring to my office, and this has contributed to my career growth, and reaching the level and position I now hold. Beyond that, I have met some great people from whom I also learned extra soft skills.”


Have conversations that not only find solutions, but build relationships

Katherine Vaillancourt was born in Manila, Philippines and currently lives in Mississauga, Ontario. In her interview, Katherine spoke about the significance of mentors.

She said, “My first mentor was a lady named Marilyn. She was a senior Administrative Assistant and taught me the ropes. She showed me that it is not all technical but also personal. By building relationships and combining that with the technical knowledge,  you can achieve far more.  She really was a lovely lady and, without her, I probably would have done something else with my career.”


Don’t be afraid to ask, don’t be afraid people may not like you, and don’t try to save the world

Catherine Williams is pragmatic, as you can see above. She lives in Guildford in Surrey, England. What insights  would have been helpful early in her career? “Research development, training and networking opportunities. Never to be afraid to ask (the worst answer can be no). Not to be afraid that people might not like you, and not to try and save the world.”

Catherine shared her time management strategies. Here are some of them: “Check emails only at certain times of the day (I have a reminder ping up on my computer) and then use the two-minute rule: if it can be dealt with in two minutes, do it. If not, use those two minutes to plan what you’re going to do with it and then put it into a task to be worked on outside the ‘checking emails’ time slot.

I also categorise everything so that I’m not flitting from writing a letter to making a phone call to photocopying to filling to writing another letter – everything gets done in a block when you’re in that particular ‘zone’.  Also, do the slightly intimidating things first!”

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