Julia Schmidt is the National Chairman of EUMA Norway (European Management Assistants), which becomes IMA (International Management Assistants) in February 2017
Can we start with a little background information? Where are you from and what is your current role?
I am from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and have been living in Oslo, Norway since 1998. I have worked in international companies and joined Basefarm AS in February 2015. I am executive assistant to the Chairman of the Board, CEO and CFO. In addition, I am the National Chairman of EUMA Norway (European Management Assistants) which becomes IMA (International Management Assistants) from February 2017.
What is your background?
My first job was as a teacher in Brazil. I worked as a teacher in both private and public schools. Very early, my mother realized my talent for languages. I started learning English and French at a high level when I was twelve years old. Later on, I started studying Spanish. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Portuguese and French Language and Literature. I also have a Master’s degree in French Language and Literature from the University of Nancy and a Master’s degree in Portuguese Language and Literature from the University of Oslo. I come from a family where we were all encouraged to improve our talents and be the best we can be. I am who I am today because of my dedicated and supportive family. I could not be who I am today without everything my parents did to give us the best education and opportunities.
As my interest in assisting my executives at a higher level became a goal, I started studying Business Administration. I am certified in Leadership and Management, Project Management, Organizational Change, HR Management and IT Management.
How did you become an Assistant?
I decided to start working as an Assistant when the desire to practice the languages I can speak became stronger than the desire to continuing to work as a teacher in primary schools. I wanted to start working internationally and discover the world through globalization. As I used to speak French as a French native, I decided to go to an interview for a position with the French association Alliance Française de Rio de Janeiro. I ended up working for the Directeur des CoursExtérieurs. I was his Administrative Assistant and learned the profession by doing. That’s how I started my journey and went from exciting positions to more challenging roles during the subsequent twenty-five years.
Congratulations on becoming Chair of EUMA Norway – tell us a little about that?
EUMA – European Management Assistants is becoming IMA – International Management Assistants. We have become an international association, and it is a pleasure for me to be part of this new step.
I became a member in 2012. I needed to grow my network and wanted to check how other assistants were performing in Norway. I have an international background, and have worked with French, American and Latin American cultures. I was warmly welcomed by my EUMA peers, and accepted very early a position as a board member. Being part of the board was crucial to boosting my interest in knowing more about the association and finding out how to make a difference and play a significant role in the association. In May 2016, I was elected the National Chairman.
With EUMA I discovered the importance of our profession. Being an Assistant was not a solo game any longer. It started having a higher meaning and gave me a collective perspective. Today I can say I am a proud IMA member; I am a proud Assistant; I am empowering peers and growing professionally with them.
My journey with EUMA is giving me the opportunity to speak publicly about our profession, attend ultimate training, workshops and conferences for administrative professionals, expand my network, and share and learn with top professionals. Through IMA, I also discovered Executive Secretary Magazine.
As a leader, I want to inspire my members, create a better future for our association, attract new members, enable innovation, make new opportunities for win-win situations, empower people, foster collaboration and strengthen relationships.
IMA wants us to excel, focus on self-development, make a difference, learn, and create a powerful network. I could not have joined a better association in Norway.
What are the main changes you have seen in the time you have been an Assistant?
The main changes I have seen is that assistants are been given a seat in management and executive teams. We are taking the lead and having the opportunity to be leaders. We are being asked to make big decisions and be influential. We are being asked to represent our executives and talk on their behalf. We are being asked to be marketers, project leaders, managers and innovators. Our name and photo are being included in organization charts.
What inspires and motivates you?
I am inspired by great leaders, commitment to excel and learn, and knowing that I make a difference at work and in people’s lives.
What advice would you give something just starting out as an Assistant?
- embrace change as a natural process;
- create a board of advisors;
- ask for help and support from mentors;
- know your “why;
- accentuate the positive, always;
- share what you learn;
- aspire to excel and be a role model;
- embrace feedback as a gift;
- inspire people around you;
- celebrate your victories;
- join IMA – International Management Assistants;
- be resilient;
- be a long-life learner;
- value self-development, and finally
- be proactive.
So what’s next for Julia Schmidt? Where do you want to be in five years time?
In five years’ time, I want to have published my first book, have written numerous articles for Executive Support Magazine and have empowered many administrative professionals around the world.
Julia has published her first book, The Executive Secretary Guide to Building a Career Strategy, available now on Amazon.