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Assistants play very vital roles

April 23, 2012
The Herald-Star

"Admins, the pulse of the office," is the theme for this year's Administrative Professionals Day, which is Wednesday.

That theme certainly holds true, as behind every successful executive, manager, attorney, physician, department head or just plain boss is an administrative professional.

The politically incorrect reference used to be "secretary," but that carries a females-only overtone, while the person or team of people supporting the work of the folks in charge is as likely to include males.

It also didn't reflect the depth and scope of the work being done by these special people. The role can be given various labels, from the still popular term secretary to office manager, office coordinator, administrative assistant, executive assistant or administrative specialist, among others.

The International Association of Administrative Professionals changed the name in 2000.

While portable data terminals, smart phones and tablet computers all have a role to play in keeping the boss organized, on time and in touch, those devices are worth nothing without someone doing the support work, the arranging, the appointment making, the scheduling, filing, writing of reports and letters and more. And, while electronic phone screening services are popular, there is something still about the human touch that is less frustrating.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are 8.9 million people in administrative support roles. The need doesn't end there, as the government says the profession will grow by 11 percent from 2008 to 2018.

Make no mistake, it is a career, vital to the success of every industry. There has to be a person, or people, in every organization who knows how the office works, where the files are, how to professionally greet the visitor, the customer, the caller, and direct them to where they need to go. Increasingly, the role includes management of all those wonderful information technology devices that the company road warriors and bosses use to get through sales calls, off-site meetings, appointments and travel.

Administrative professionals are at various times during the day a human resources professional, a researcher, an information technology technician, a hospitality agent, a travel agent, an organizer and a confidant.

Think about all the things your administrative support team performs, if you're a person who enjoys such assistance.

And please, don't forget to say thanks on Administrative Professionals Day.

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