Cocktails & Connections- DMV Style

My banner from 2016  APW

First, let me share a quick thought here about collaboration. I utilized the banner above on almost all my tweets, posts, pictures during this week. The hashtags represent APW themes from (in order) Office Dynamics, Executive Secretary Magazine and yours truly– all set to the IAAP background green! To bring attention to our career field, we must get the word out! More importantly, we must get the word out together!

So, what does collaboration look like? It means many administrative associations working together globally to represent the purpose and professionalism of our career field.  Funneling down, it also means communicating the value we bring to our companies to the organizations, suppliers, human resource and recruiting personnel within our business networks.

 Administrative Professionals Day – DMV Style

The DC Local Area Network for IAAP (International Association of Administrative Professionals) was hosted by our local Cambria Hotels and Suites.[Disclosure: DC Cambria provided meeting space and appetizers for our event. They also provided a separate cash bar for the event.] The hotel is part of Choice International brand.Their sales/marketing staff has been savvy enough to reach out to the IAAP members in several cities because they understand administrative and executive assistants frequently fill the role of meetings/events planner for organizations. This is particularly true for our field when it comes to board and committee meetings. Many of us are frequently in search of a modern meeting room space that won’t break the budget. Would I have visited this site without being contacted by their sales/marketing staff? Not likely. After touring I was convinced that this property (because of its Metro-friendly location and board room space) would be a superb resource for local IAAP members. Thank you to Lee Callicut, Jeff McClain, Ayesha Aurora, Lois Goldring, and the entire DC Cambria staff for the wonderful customer service and fantastic event.

Several attendees check out the roof top deck and bar at Cambria ( too cold for us to use it that day! boo hiss!)

Twenty-seven local executive suite administrative professionals and an executive assistant recruiting firm representative, representing corporate, government and non-profit organizations toured the property after a networking hour. We had two attendees join IAAP after attending. Door prizes for the event came from The Howard Theatre, ChocolateChocolate DC, and Clyde’s Restaurant. I hope you were able to catch some of my (@OfficeRenegade)periscope livestreams from the day of the event.

There’s an old proverb- Many hands make light work.  A heartfelt thank you to Joyetta Delaney, Janet Brake and Debbi Shaffer for your help during this event.

Thank you to my DMV (District|Maryland|Virginia) peers for coming into town and being part of our really fun Cocktails &Connections Event for Administrative Professionals Day.



Repeat This Phrase: To Thine Own Self Be True

It’s been a tough jet lag couple of days getting back from #ExecSecLIVE..but so worth it.

It was wonderful to meet my fellow speakers, spend time with attendees and build new relationships. But, I have to tell you (This is an Anel Martin phrase I’m stealing) the best thing  I took away from ExecSecLIVE was the validation. Validation in knowing how to share my experience as an admin, my point of view. Validation in how I tell stories, stories my peers can relate to.  They got it!   Lastly, validation that some stories I tell are, in fact, redonkulous and can trigger laughs from others.  I had been concerned that my style, my approach — might not be the most ‘serious and professional’ compared to the presentations of the others. Had I done my presentations any other way..they would not have been genuine. They would not be true to my style. I’m glad I stayed true to myself and that others could relate.

I’m hoping the fog will lift soon and I’ll be able to write more succinctly and share additional take-aways from the event. For now, I just want to say, ‘Thank you’ to Executive Secretary for this amazing opportunity to learn from my peers and the time to build new friendships.

Days 15/14 –Countdown to Executive Secretary LIVE 2015- London


Yep. That’s me at the Executive Secretary LIVE conference in 2013.

Fast forward to March 5, 2015 and I’m prepping to return to London for this year’s conference.

I wanted to blog about the preparation to go, my thoughts about presenting and also to encourage others to pursue the things that fill them with joy.

When I attended in 2013, I was not sure what to expect. I have known Julie Perrine for some time and knew she was presenting. I had read Sue France and Bonnie Low-Kramen’s books and couldn’t wait to greet these two thought leaders.  I had been in correspondence with Susie Barron-Stubbley and Doug Dickerson through LinkedIn.

I also had some preconceived notions of what I thought London would be like and what the conference itself would be like.  Ha!  Remember that  old adage about ‘making assumptions’?  Let’s just say I was pleasantly disrupted from those perceptions.

First, I thought Washington, D.C. traffic was challenging.. until London. I am proud to say I was not impatient nor rude to the gentleman driving our transport unlike a few of the others on board. And, I learned that if I had taken the subway (or as you guys call it, the Tube) my transport might have taken less time. When I finally arrived at my hotel room, the view was


I had the most amazing time during my short visit. I met so many delegates/PAs from all over the world and made great friendships with PAs from Italy and Turkey, which I still celebrate today.  And one of the craziest moments was being seated next to a delegate from Pennsylvania– this was her first PA/EA conference- EVER?! We’ve also kept in touch some.

The sessions were fantastic. The social events were impressive. I must admit to feeling a bit intimidated and overwhelmed by the collective brilliance of the presenters, but in a good way. I became very quiet. For those of  you who know me, it’s hard to imagine that happening, but it did. It gave me the opportunity to just soak in the experience,to live in the moment (as Sue France strongly encouraged me to do).

So, as I prepare to return to #ExecSecLIVE, I’m remembering the joy of those few days spent with peers that inspired and motivated me to keep listening to my instinct, to continue to pursue training and speaking opportunities, to share from my experience, strength and hope as an administrative professional.

Off to grab a cup of coffee as I’m working from home today. It’s snowing–which DC has not had much of this year, but our northern states certainly have had too much of it to shovel. I raise my mug to Lucy, Matthew, Rachael, Christian and all the team members and delegates preparing for the conference.


Meet Author Sue France !- An Interview – Part One

Visit her site at

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 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

Special Announcement – A Year-Long Series Dedicated to Admin Leaders You Should Know

IYOTSA- 2014 |  Admin Leaders You Should Know

I could think of no better way to celebrate the kickoff of the International Year of The Secretary & Administrative Assistant (IYOTSA) than to highlight ‘Admin Leaders You Should Know’.

That’s right!

For all of 2014, will be dedicated to introducing you to administrative peers from across the globe. Sue France, FCIPD/INLPTA, will be featured in a two-part blog post to help us get an early start for the 2014 IYOTSA series.

To learn more about how you can be involved with IYOTSA, visit the Professional Association for Secretaries and Administrative Assistants website.

To be notified when a new blog post is available, follow me on Twitter – @OfficeRenegade or here on WordPress.