I’m happy to bring you Day Seven of this year’s edition of 12 Days of Real Careers.
You’ll find a number of well deserved nods to some impressive professional associations, peer groups and networks within today’s excerpts. These represent a mere sampling of the many professional associations from which readers benefit year ’round.
If you’ve just now come across this annual celebration of insights and fellow assistants, have a look at this post to learn more. You’ll also find links at the base of this article to all interviews featured to date within this year’s 12 Days.
Think of these 12 Days as gifts of experience and wisdom that we can all incorporate. To read the full interview from any of these individuals, just click on her or his name.
Your growth and development are as much your responsibility as anyone else’s
Craig Harris, England: ” In recent years I’ve realised more how important it is to keep training and to keep learning in order to be at the top of your game.
I am a member of EPAA, The Executive & Personal Assistants Association, who are amazing. Their mission is to champion, promote and develop the assistant profession and, although this is a fairly new association, the changes they are making are amazing. They are really getting out there and speaking to assistants to understand what they need and how they can support us. It really helps make you feel part of a community who all want to help. We have some great tools and training available to us via EPAA.
I’m also part of The Charity PA Network, which aims to join together assistants who work in the charity and not for profit sector. I think working as an assistant in the charity sector throws up its own challenges, and it’s great to have a platform to discuss these and meet others working in a similar position.”
You are an extension of your boss; let that guide your actions
Michela Luoni, Italy: “After attending Executive Secretary LIVE in 2013, I was keen to stay in touch with professionals of such value and afterwards I joined EUMA (now IMA; International Management Assistants) … (an) association represented in 25 countries. So, I’ve been building an international and high quality network. I warmly encourage everyone to join a professional association where available, in order to keep learning, remain up to date on the latest trends and evolve with the role.
Try to be always one step ahead of your boss, give him/her solutions and not problems, and speak up for yourself when necessary.”
Note: Michela is also active within Italy’s own Secretary.IT.
I love the variety of my role; it certainly keeps you on your toes
Amanda Snowball Moscrop, England: “I am an active member of the Manchester PA Network … The network has helped me secured some amazing friendships for which I am eternally grateful. As a lone PA in my workplace, it is extremely isolating and the network has enabled me to gain support and advice from its members.
In addition, when I started in my current role, I was totally new to Manchester. The network helped me via visiting venues and restaurants, and I was able to draw on these experiences for recommendations to the partners.”
Settings boundaries isn’t easy for everyone, but it’s necessary
Megan Bishop, USA: “The first time I attended the annual conference hosted by ASAP, the American Society of Administrative Professionals, was one of the biggest ‘aha’ moments of my life. I realized I wanted to be a career EA. I had no idea there was so much support for the administrative role. I’ve met some stellar admins and connected with many vendors and tools that make me better in my role.
The number one thing I’ve learned when it comes to mapping out your career goals is that it’s all on you; no one will do this for you. That may be a bit scary to some, but it’s also invigorating. You’ve got a clear blue sky – where do you want to go?
… I urge you to map out your own career. We are in a delightfully special role with no one singular path to promotion or growth. Also, frankly, many executives don’t entirely know what to do with us. Talking about being a career EA might get you some odd looks from executives. So, I encourage you to dream big and think about what you want to learn. Then utilize all of the existing resources out there, such as free monthly webinars with Office Dynamics, free membership with ASAP, annual conferences, and resources such as Udemy, Lynda, edX and Coursera.”
Take chances and roads less travelled, and always learn from your mistakes
Breda Shanahan, Republic of Ireland: “My parents are my role models. They always worked very hard and instilled this in me from a young age. My two bosses are my mentors!
I’m a member of the Association of Professional Administrators in Ireland (APAI). Networking is a really valuable way to expand your knowledge, learn from others’ success, attain new contacts and showcase your organization.
I read and share lots of the articles they publish, and it also helps me to connect with EAs and PAs within my organization and externally. “
Ask for feedback – and ask those who you know will be brutally honest
Kim Glover, England: “ I attend quite a few breakfast events – either networking events hosted by others, or our Exeter PA Network monthly breakfast events, which start at around 7:00 a.m. A note from Shelagh: Kim is the founder of this network.
Join a network. Identify a mentor. Understand whether your organisation has a competency matrix in place for your role, which should highlight what steps are needed to progress to the next level. Talk them through with your boss and agree on objectives, and what support you need from your boss/organisation in order to achieve them.
Ask for feedback – and ask those who you know will be brutally honest. If there are things about the way you behave or present yourself that are holding you back from getting that promotion, then you need someone who’s going to be really honest with you about them, otherwise you will never have the opportunity to do something about it.”
Build a career of substance
Chantal Sneijkers, Belgium: “Being a member of EUMA (now IMA; International Management Assistants) 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. As well, the cultural differences between the European countries have been personally enriching.”
One doesn’t have to be friends with every person in the company
Kemetia Foley, USA: “Be professional. Dress professionally. Ask questions. Understand the corporate culture and mission of your employer/company. Invest in a headshot photo and make certain you have a relevant LinkedIn profile. Engage with other administrative professionals and leaders in the office support domain. My quote: ‘Administrative professionals are only as good as their resource network.’
I belong to IAAP, the International Association of Administrative Professionals, and have earned its certification, Certified Administrative Professional with a speciality in Organisational Management. I have held many leadership roles with IAAP, and am just finishing up my term as Local Area Network Director for Washington, DC. I also have memberships in The American Society of Administrative Professionals and National Business Education Association.”
It’s important to look after yourself and ensure you have balance in your life
Melanie Richardson, England: “I’m a member of The PA Hub, which is a regional PA networking group run by Marion and Jon Lowrence. I’m also a Fellow of the UK’s Executive & Personal Assistants Association (EPAA) run by Victoria Darragh.
I’m a big believer that you need to be constantly evolving, developing and moving out of your comfort zone. I see this as just as important for me even now, after so many years in the profession.
Over the years, more often than not I’ve just said ‘yes’ to new things and then figured out afterwards how do to them! That’s required me to call upon my personal courage many times, to face my fears and to have to change deeply-entrenched behaviour – which isn’t easy.”
Click any name below for the full interview from any of the Real Careers alumni featured in 2018’s 12 Days of Real Careers
- Day One: Susan Engelbrecht, Erin Floss, Priscilia Gough, Amanda Hargreaves, Else-Britt Lundgren, Paula Moio, Jennifer Robson, Debbi Shaffer, John D. Shaw
- Day Two: Craig Bryson, Bonnie Cookson, Florence Katono, Kelly McAulay, Nora Onishi, Jannie Oosterhoff, Angela Parker, Carys Stacey, Catherine Thomas
- Day Three: Rebeka Adamson, Jane Brazzill, Lorna Cowan, Angela Downey, MistiLynn Lokken, Christabell Pinchin, James Sobczak, Julia Schmidt, Catherine Williamson
- Day Four: Bianca Constance, Debs Eden, Debbie Grimshaw, Sofie Koark, Maria Marsh, Catherine Marshall Penasa, Eleni Rizikianou, Emily Walker, Matthew Want
- Day Five: Paula Harding, Cathy Harris, Amy Marsden, Barbara J. (BJ) Parrish, Helen Rees, Marcela Silva da Conceição Brito, Laura Swallows
- Day Six: Stacey Brewer (interview to follow January 23/19), Lesley Dexter, Kerry Dawson, Susan Henderson, Stacey King, Solveig Kristensen, Karen Richmond, Katherine Vaillancourt, Louise Whitehead
- Day Seven: Megan Bishop, Kemetia Foley, Kim Glover, Craig Harris, Michela Luoni, Amanda Snowball Moscrop, Melanie Richardson, Breda Shanahan, Chantal Sneijkers