Understanding Today’s Admin. Careers: My 2017 Panel

Earlier this week, I wrote that it’s time to collectively nudge further evolution of the admin. career.

Who Can Help Adjust Preceptions?

While there are many enlightened employers, colleagues and friends, stereotypes of the profession persist. I believe that we can upend most, if not all, of them. How? Well, we start with communication and advocacy. Many of my fellow trainers – such as Victoria Darragh, Founder and Chief Executive of EPAA – are doing just that.

Next, we learn from others. Over the last year or so, I’ve interviewed more than a hundred high performing admin. professionals from 21 countries (and counting) for my Real Careers series.

These people are generous with their insights on the profession, and advice on how to succeed. Many of them are leaders within their own professional associations, and some are fellow trainers.

Individually, each of you also has a role to play in influencing perceptions of the role. Never underestimate the quiet influence you can wield as an EA or PA.

Last, but not least, think of the potential held by professional networks and associations. Regular readers will know that I publish regular Weekend Polls. I come out with a few questions each Thursday, and leave the polls open until Monday evening. Last weekend, I conducted my second annual poll to measure the significance that professional networks and associations have on your careers.


If you’ve read the results of my latest Weekend Poll, you’ll know that 95% of those who responded belong to at least one professional network or association. 79% of respondents believe that participation in such associations and networks positively impacts their careers. Think of the capacity these professional networks and associations have to further influence perceptions.


Stepping Up to the Plate: My 2017 Panel

I reached out last Fall to some of the Real Careers alumni, and posed a series of questions to them. We’ll begin with an environmental scan of the administrative landscape this Friday. In the meantime, here’s a look at who you’ll be hearing from. You can also read each panelist’s Real Careers interview by clicking on her or his name.

Whitehead, Louise - UK - 2017Louise Whitehead is Senior Executive Assistant at her organisation. She holds a BA Hons Degree in English Literature, and works in the private sector. Louise is from Yorkshire, England and her first admin. role was as PA to Head of Construction. “As with many others I imagine, I found my way into the PA world through a temporary contract. I realised I had a talent for organising and supporting others and this led me into a permanent career change – 13 years later it’s still going strong. I have worked across a wide variety of sectors and industries, from the NHS to property to financial services.”

Want, Matthew - EnglandMatthew Want is PA to Lucy Brazier, the CEO of Marcham Publishing, publishers of Executive Secretary Magazine. He attended college to earn a BTEC National Diploma in Media Studies, and is based in Staines, England. Now approaching his fifth year as an admin. professional, Matthew began this career in the role he now holds. About that PA role? “At first I didn’t realise what the title actually meant. As I have progressed along in my role, I have found more of an opportunity to turn it into a career.”

Robinson, Jennifer - AustraliaJennifer Robson is an Executive Assistant in Australia. Born in Bangladesh, she  launched her career in Melbourne, Australia 41 years ago. Jennifer earned an Associate Diploma of Business (Office Administration) in 1996, well into her administrative career.  Her first role? Secretary. “When I completed my studies, there were limited career opportunities and I knew that I did not want a career in either teaching or nursing so decided to become a Secretary and from there my role has progressed.”

sobczak-james-chicago-usaJames Sobczak is Executive Assistant to the Dean for Clinical Affairs & The Vice President of Marketing & Communications, University of Chicago Medicine & Biological Sciences. He’s lived his entire life in the Chicago area, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree. James is approach the 15-year mark of his career as an admin. professional, which began with a temporary assignment on campus – as Executive Secretary to the Dean, Biological Sciences Division. “I did intend to establish such a career, effectively re-inventing myself in a profession that would give me a greater level of personal and professional satisfaction.”

Halton-Woodward, DeclanDeclan Halton-Woodward is Executive Assistant to the Global Managing Director at The AS&K Group. He earned his A-Levels at college, and he’s also approaching his fifth year as an admin. professional.  Declan’s first role was as Business Support Operative in a large private security organisation in the UK, and this London-born EA is in this profession by design. “Yes, I would like to continue my career in this profession. I truly love my job and profession.”

Harris, Craig - EnglandCraig Harris is Executive Assistant to the People Director at the NSPCC, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. NSPCC is the UK’s largest childrens’ charity. Originally from Essex, Craig now lives in London, England. He has his high school GCSE and has been in the admin. profession for the past five years, first as a PA (Personal Assistant) and now as an EA.


Constance, Bianca - USABianca Constance, CAP, is an Executive Assistant in New York City, USA. Born in Montreal, Canada, she grew up in Richmond, Virginia and has been in the New York metropolitan area since 1996. Bianca has a long list of credentials, including a Bachelor’s degree and two diplomas. In 2013, she obtained the Certified Administrative Professional (CAP) credential from IAAP, the International Association of Administrative Professionals. While Bianca’s career as an administrative professional began in 1996, her previous jobs (dating back to 1987) were administrative in nature. ” The first job with ‘administrative professional’ in the title was in 1998, when I was hired as the Administrative Professional for the Director of Publications at The Bond Market Association. My very first task was to compile committee comments for a book draft that would be published later that year. Other tasks included calling companies who had not paid for publications.

My career of choice was to be an opera singer – I have a Bachelor of Music in Voice from Virginia Commonwealth University and two Artist’s Diplomas from the Hartt School of Music – one diploma in voice and the other diploma in opera. During my time at Hartt, I worked night shift at a law firm in their Word Processing Department (that will tell you how long ago it was!!). After completing the second Diploma, I began working full-time for the law firm while moonlighting for another law firm at night. I was making more money typing full time than I was singing full time, so I shifted my priorities a bit. I guess you can call me the Singing Secretary!”

Bryson, Craig - EnglandCraig A. T. Bryson is an Executive Assistant in London, England. He was born in Buluwayo, Zimbabwe and grew up in South Africa. With his high school diploma in hand, Craig entered the administrative profession 11 years ago. His first job was temping as a PA within PwC’s Charity and Diversity department. Did Craig plan to be an admin. professional? “I wanted to teach people how to use PCs and software such as Microsoft Word and Excel. This led me to start temping.”


Check back Friday for more!

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