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. (Part 1 link here)
Part Two: Sue France Interview
Q6. Speaking of travel, I believe you’ve traveled to Singapore, Dubai and Thailand to train administrative professionals. What are your insights into the profession in these other countries?
A6. The countries I have worked in so far are: Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Johannesburg, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Australia, Shanghai, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Cyprus, Poland, Ireland, America and the UK of course, unfortunately I have not worked in Thailand yet but would love to and also Canada, India and would love to work more in the USA. Of course there are cultural differences in the way we shake hands and wear clothes and of course in Saudi they are mainly male Assistants but in the main all assistants have the same issues, problems and require the same learning and development.
Q7. When you are leading a training class, are there any topics that tend to ‘catch’ the class? For example, my experience in working with less experienced administrative professionals are that the edges tend to be rough and it takes time for the students to comprehend business etiquette. Do you see some of this when you are training?
A7. I tend to find that delegates are very quiet at the beginning of the workshop and fairly shy with each other but by the end of the workshop they are like a family and presenting and feeding back group findings to each other with ease and exchange emails to keep in touch post the training. I have found that all my delegates grasp what I am teaching fairly quickly and especially enjoy their increased confidence, advanced communication and working with difficult people and situations sessions.
Q8. What has been the most enjoyable or memorable event you’ve had in your training career?
A8. I have got to say in all honesty that I have enjoyed meeting every delegate and enjoyed every single workshop I have run and every conference I have spoken at. Having said that, the most memorable is probably the 2 day workshop I ran in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia because their culture is so different and it was a class of 100% male Assistants. I was the only lady in the hotel and they were all acted as gentlemen towards me. They still have the same issues as all other Assistants but it’s the only time I have not had any female assistants in my workshop or see any other females in the hotel at all. When I went into the town I wore an abaya dress covering me from neck to toe although I didn’t have to wear the scarf and I didn’t have to wear the abaya in the workshop. It was an adventure as well as enlightening as I love learning and experiencing different cultures.
Q9. Any caveats you’d like to share as it relates to the administrative career field?
A9. I believe that everyone in the admin career field should be passionate about their role and really understand how important the role is and how important they are. I never want to hear anyone saying “I am just a ….” It is a career and should be treated as such and especially at board level this role is extremely important and you have the opportunity to influence top management and be their 2nd brain and right hand person. Remember you are in a role that will understand what is going on at all levels and can give informed advice and decisions to your boss who will not understand everything and everyone as much as you do as you are the one with your ears to the ground as well as understanding the vision and mission of your boss and organisation.
Q10. Any thoughts you’d like to share with recruiters or human resource personnel when it comes to evaluating administrative professionals?
A10. When recruiting, I would say that they should take into consideration, as being of great importance and an advantage, if the Assistant is a member of a network for Assistants such as IAAP or European Management Assistants. I believe this proves how much the Assistant values networking with like- minded people, learning, self-development and their career as an Assistant as they have joined on a voluntary basis in their own time. This is even more important when they take on voluntary roles within the organisation like Chapter Presidents and other leadership roles. I firmly believe that organisations should pay for their membership subscription in support of their proactive attitude towards their career.