Secretary - a career that nurtures a woman's managerial skills

Secretary - a career that nurtures a woman's managerial skills

A secretary or an administrative assistant or an executive assistant is a highly specialised role in most organisations. This individual’s core strengths need to be – the ability to be quick on the uptake, get things done efficiently without too much fuss and have the art of keeping confidences. This is a role which has been traditionally a woman's bastion and many of her skills are put to good use - in that women have the ability to multitask effortlessly and with perfection.

The minimum qualification is either a plus two pass or these days a graduate degree is also preferred. The ability to handle technology and machines such as the telephone systems and the other machines which form a hub within most offices is also a necessary skill. The tasks which a secretary or an administrative assistant performs may seem simple but are very important as they ensure that the management is able to carry out a whole lot of tasks efficiently. Often you see them playing the roles of both information and communication manager.

A prerequisite to working as a secretary is the ability to multitask and organise responsibilities in a managerial mode. Some of the things they do are – planning and scheduling meetings and appointments: organising and maintaining paper and electronic files: managing projects and research ventures: circulating information either through the intranet, telephone or mail services. Most secretaries also handle travel and guest arrangements.

In today’s technology driven world and paperless offices, here are some of the office equipment which secretaries’ handle - fax machines, photocopiers, scanners, and videoconferencing and telephone systems. This apart they also use computers to perform tasks which were previously handled by managers such as create spreadsheets, compose correspondence, manage databases, create presentations, reports and documents using desktop publishing software and digital graphics. Negotiating with vendors, maintaining and examining leased equipment, auditing purchase supplies and also managing stockrooms or corporate libraries while retrieving data from multiple nodes of the organisations are also key areas which executive assistants or secretaries take care of.

Working with top level executives most of the time, secretaries or executive assistants have moved up the ladder to take important positions as head of projects etc as they see the birth of a venture from inception and see it through to implementation. Today there are specialised MBA programs which enable secretaries to qualify and take their careers to the next level.

The secretary needs to understand the organisational objectives along with that of the core KRAs of the boss and ensure that they are in sync with each other all the time. Secretaries or executive assistants are an integral part of any organisation and are valued and paid well for the tasks that they accomplish.


- Gita Nair (views expressed in the article are that of the author)


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