If you’re an admin… You need to get to know Sue France. Sue is a wonderfully positive person and amazing author of two books dedicated to the administrative profession. I had the pleasure of meeting with Sue in March 2013 at the Executive Secretary Live! conference in London.
I really enjoy networking with peers here in the United States, but also with our peers from around the globe. Sue is an international trainer and coach for administrative professionals, along with a host of other skills. You can learn more about her books and products at http://www.suefrance.com or join her LinkedIn discussion group – ‘Tips For Office Professionals Worldwide’.
For now though, let’s get to know Sue! She kindly responded to the questions I posed. There is so much great information, I split the interview into two parts. Here’s Part One.
Q1. Tell us how you came into the administrative profession.
A1. I came into the administrative profession because I chose this profession when I was 15 and chose to attend secretarial college for 2 years whilst doing an A level in British Government and Politics and studying commerce as I thought it would be useful knowledge in my chosen career.
Q2. You live in the U.K. In the U.S., there are programs in vocational schools and in the community college systems that offer coursework related to becoming an administrative assistant. Is there an equivalent in the U.K.? And if so, what type of courses are offered?
A2. Colleges and training companies do offer specific training for administrative assistants either on site or home learning or a combination of both. For example there is a college in the UK called Lewis College and their courses are in the main online courses and are mapped out against OCR qualifications. OCR is a leading UK awarding body, providing qualifications for learners. The Lewis College ‘Secretary Intensive’ course covers 8 key OCR level 2 modules for example. The course covers office procedures, diary management, organising travel, organising meetings and events etc. Lewis College have asked me to conduct 2 day workshops to help the delegates to consolidate their learning and bring the role of the Assistant alive and help to develop them further. The workshops also allow for networking with like-minded people. My workshops include developing business relationships, networking successfully, handling difficult people and situations, understanding the role of the ultimate business partner and strategic assistant, time and stress management and ergonomics etc. There are also other training companies who offer secretarial raining such as Reed Learning whom I am an associate trainer for. There are training centres where you can learn all aspects of the secretarial role plus all technical training on word, outlook, excel, shorthand etc. I do believe that all Assistants should be touch typists to be able to do their role to the best of their ability and to lessen any health hazards.
Q3. What was the hardest skill for you to master when you entered the profession?
A3. The hardest skills for me to master when I entered the profession was to type in French (which I had to do occasionally) being a native English speaker, making sure that all spelling and grammar was correct taking into consideration I worked on an old fashioned typewriter with carbon paper back then!
Q4. Are there any skills that you are working on now or want to learn?
A4. I am constantly learning new things by reading books, surfing the internet, attending conferences and workshops, webinars and seminars in order to update my skills. I also learn from the delegates in my workshops. As a Fellow member of The Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development it is a requirement of my membership that I achieve ‘Continual Professional Development’ and I therefore regularly attend CIPD networking meetings which often have interesting speakers. I am currently studying neuroscience to further understand our brains and how best to use them most effectively to help us in our work.
Q5. The administrative profession here in the States is generally perceived as an entry-level career. Does this translate over to the U.K.? Or to other countries to which you’ve traveled?
A5 This does kind of translate in the UK depending on the level you are going to work at of course. If you are going for a job working with the CEO or Managing Partner then it certainly isn’t entry level. However due to the recession we are finding that graduates are trying to get into companies by becoming assistants with the aim of moving up the ladder and through the ranks and into the roles they really want which I actually think is unfair for the career assistants.
Part Two of Meet Author Sue France- will be posted on 12/20/13.~ Kemetia