Helen Monument gives an overview of what happened when the voices of over 130,000 administrative professionals were brought to the online Summit

Everyone has now grown used to online events, eliminating the need for travel time, costs and the hassle of applying for a visa. The 12th WA-Summit was no exception, and the WA-Alliance was delighted to welcome 55 delegates and 20 observers from 25 countries on the two days of the Summit, 15th and 22nd October 2022. The atmosphere was lively and engaging, and with such a diverse audience, plenty of viewpoints were exchanged and discussed.

The WA-Summit is a working meeting, run by the World Administrators Alliance and held every two years, at which we bring together the leaders and representatives of administrative professional associations, networks and industry stakeholders to discuss the challenges facing our profession and recommend actions to address them. The WA-Summit Chair, Eth Lloyd, led us through the two days with her usual professionalism. We have uploaded the outcomes document to the WA-Summit website, where you can read the full details of what was discussed and the subsequent actions.

Progress Since the 11th WA-Summit

The Global Skills Matrix

The Global Skills Matrix started its life as the Skills Set Matrix Report. At the 11th WA-Summit, the report was unanimously accepted by the delegates, and a task force went on to refine the look and feel of the report to create a set of amazing resources. The Global Skills Matrix (GSM) was launched on 21st September 2021. After just one year, we are very proud of this achievement. There have been over 5,000 downloads of the documents, and 45 free webinars have been given in 17 different countries. Translations are now online in German, French, Dutch, Italian and Portuguese, with more on the way. The WA-Alliance is immensely proud of this tool and the impact that it is having around the world. The work on the GSM continues with a new task force formed after the discussion topic at the 12th WA-Summit.

Awareness Campaign #TheCareerBehindTheJob

The Identity and Image of Administrative Professionals Report was presented and accepted by the delegates at the 2021 Summit and uploaded to the Summit website. The 11th Summit discussion group, The Future of the Profession, recommended that the WA-Alliance start a campaign with the objective of raising awareness of the profession as a conscious career choice, elevating it to the level it deserves. A task force was formed, and the awareness campaign was born. A strategy was written, as there was an understanding of the WHY, but the team needed to determine the HOW for the campaign. Two social media hashtags were created: #TheCareerBehindTheJob and #MyCareerOfChoice.

There are two phases to the project; the first is well underway and phase two is based on the target groups, executives, HR managers, recruiters and trainers. It’s hoped to start phase two by the end of 2022. Social media messages have been posted since 9th May, and there have been webinars, magazine articles and interviews, including an #AdminChat on the YouTube channel of Executive Support Magazine. There has been plenty of exposure, but it takes time and support from all in the industry. I encourage everyone in the profession to support this campaign and to take collective responsibility for a proactive and long-term approach to positively influencing perceptions of the career. This was also included as a discussion topic for the 12th WA-Summit, so the two task forces will be aligned to continue to drive this campaign forward.

Workplace Harassment Report

This report was accepted by the delegates at the 11th Summit and contains these words: “This topic was being discussed by Administrative Professionals nearly 30 years ago and we felt the time is right to bring it to the forefront again. We now need to stop harassment in the workplace in all its forms – bullying and sexual. The human price is massive. And if it is true that administrative staff is the backbone of companies, then harassment is destroying this backbone from the inside out. Productivity suffers. Retention suffers. Profits suffer. Harassment has been covered in silence for far too long. When we break the silence and the destructive cycle of bullying, the workplace will transform not only for ourselves but for our daughters and sons.”

The report and its attachments have been available on the website since the previous summit, and we have talked about it on social media. This is such an important topic, and we must not remove our focus from it. We asked associations and networks to take the recommendations back to their country and talk about how they can be implemented. One of the recommendations was realised by our development of a pledge that associations can use to show their support for our anti-harassment campaign. Those who are willing to support and implement this pledge will receive a specially designed logo to display on their website as visible proof of their support and commitment to this very important topic.

Diversity, Inclusion & Belonging Report

Eth Lloyd presented this item and explained the history behind this report. At the 11th WA-Summit, a paper was presented on diversity, inclusion and belonging. One of the recommendations of the paper was to facilitate sharing and learning platforms, specifically offering financial support to countries whose professional association finds the delegate registration fee more than they can prioritise from their income, especially today with the after-effects of the pandemic.

The delegates agreed to form a new task force, led by WA-Alliance Finance Officer Ursula Wartha, to come up with a proposal for this fund. We are also ensuring that administrative professionals globally feel the WA-Alliance is actively participating in addressing diversity, inclusion and belonging with global representation at our Summits. There are other recommendations in the 2021 paper that require more actions, and those will be addressed in the coming months by the WA-Alliance.

Four Discussion Groups

Our expert facilitators, Lucy Brazier OBE, Heather Baker, Amy McKeown and Liz van Vliet, led their discussion groups to practical outcomes and actions, which will be owned by four new summit task forces under the sponsorship of a WA-Council member. I am delighted that so many delegates volunteered to take part in those groups, and we will be keeping you informed of their progress via our social media channels and our newsletters in the coming weeks and months. The outcomes of the four groups were presented on Day 2 of the Summit, when the delegates unanimously endorsed the actions and goals.

How can we take the Global Skills Matrix forward to the future?

Launched in September 2021, the Matrix has been hugely successful so far, but this is just the beginning. Work still needs to be done to spread the word further, and to convince HR, executives, trainers and recruiters of the benefits of having a well-skilled business support function as well as giving administrative professionals a clear framework for their own career progression and skills gaps. The Global Skills Matrix is the most ground-breaking resource to come out of the WA-Summit. The new task force has some clear goals and actions, such as creating a model for an interactive workshop on how to use the Matrix, including ‘train the trainer’ actions and creating short videos that will help us to further communicate the story and the purpose of this ground-breaking tool.

The Career Behind the Job – How can we mobilize the administrative profession to elevate itself once and for all?

This was by far the most popular choice of discussion group, which reflects how we are feeling about the visibility and awareness of the profession. The WA-Alliance campaign #TheCareerBehindTheJob started mid-2021 and has attracted much attention within our community. The new task force will take the campaign to the next phase and focus on engaging with executives, HR, recruiters and professional trainers to influence and change the way that they look at administrative professionals, showing them the enormous diversity, scope, value and impact of the role.

Fit for the Future – How can we ensure our mental and physical wellbeing in the world of hybrid working?

Nobody was prepared for the negative impact that the pandemic would have on the world of work. Some loved the autonomy of working from home during lockdown. Others suffered from feelings of isolation or felt excluded from their usual activities. The delegates’ discussions were open and honest, with plenty of story sharing of struggles with wellbeing during the lockdown and beyond. Returning to the office was a challenge for some, while others felt a sense of relief that things were ‘back to normal’. The discussion on mental health has come out of the shadows, and we are so much more aware of the importance of setting boundaries, listening to our bodies, and putting ourselves first. The task force actions include creating new goals for Administra and developing strategies for Associations and Individuals.

Future-proofing technical skills – how can administrative professionals become technology ambassadors?

Technology training was high on the list in our pre-Summit survey. With technology moving so fast, it’s vital for administrative professionals to stay ahead of the game. It’s no longer sufficient to leave technology learning to others. If we are to remain relevant, then we need to be proactive, keep learning and make sure that we engage with technology in the office – as users, but also as ambassadors, so that we can fully support our peers and our executives. Becoming a technology champion in the office is an excellent way to increase our professional development and increase the recognition and appreciation that comes from excellence.

Presentation Paper

We were honoured to invite Aliina Rowe to present the paper “The Administrative Profession Defining a Role in Organizational Change,” written as the final project paper to complete her Diploma in Organizational Change at Warwick Business School in the UK. Aliina was supported by her executive, Oliver Engels, the Chief Risk Officer of the Group. Aliina’s presentation showed how small things show a way for Assistants to address change by turning their attention and focus to what they can do now, in small ways, to engage and connect people to each other to build those strong foundations that are needed for organizational change in a deliberate and proactive way. The paper written by Aliina Rowe, including the slides, can be found on the WA-Summit website.

Country Reports

At a face-to-face Summit, countries would have the opportunity to share reports on their progress against a particular goal in Administra. This year, we asked for updates on strategies on Goal 4 of Administra: Market Association membership to encourage active participation of younger people. 11 countries sent a report, and these have been uploaded on the WA-Summit website. Each of them gives an interesting picture of the state of the profession in those countries. There is much to learn from each other by adopting some of the best practices mentioned there. Two countries were invited to expand on their activities against Goal 4: South Africa and New Zealand. Susan Englebrecht for Cathy Harris from South Africa explained how the Platinum Assistant Network is contributing to and working on attracting future generations of Assistants, and Sherie Pointon, Executive Officer of AdmiNZ, shared details of their engagement with secondary schools, and a project to have their own micro-credentials approved by the national qualifications authority in New Zealand.

Administra – World Action Plan

Eth Lloyd took the delegates through this document, which provides a record of many of the outcomes achieved at each WA-Summit. Some outcomes include a directive to include a specific point in a specific goal in Administra. Other points are gathered through the development of tools and information to support both administrative professional associations and individual administrative professionals. Administra is set out in two parts. The first part is aimed at administrative professional associations to help them to set their goals and strategic plans. The second part is aimed at individual administrative professionals, who can use it to gather ideas for their own personal goal-setting during their performance appraisal. At each summit, Administra is reviewed for relevance and updates are included and approved by the delegates.

And Finally

We are delighted that the 13th WA-Summit will be hosted by AdmiNZ and held in Wellington, New Zealand, on 6th & 7th March, 2024. Plans are already underway, so make sure you subscribe to our Newsletter for all the updates.

Look out for our post-summit supplement, which gives more details of the actions from the task forces as well as insights into what it means to be part of this unique event. Special thanks go to Juanita Mort, our WA-Summit Project Manager, and to our Summit Sponsor, EMMRE.com.

It was a pleasure to see so many enthusiastic and committed delegates at the Summit, giving freely of their time to support the WA-Alliance in its aims to guide, develop, influence and elevate the administrative profession. We hope to meet them all again in New Zealand in 2024.

Helen Monument inspires and encourages Assistants to be the best they can be by sharing 40 years of experience as a management support professional. Her career has taken her from Secretary to Office Manager and Business Support Team Leader, so she ... (Read More)

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