Sue McComasky is a career Assistant and the current National President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Australian Institute of Office Professionals; the only national body for office professionals in Australia
Can we start with a little background information? Where are you from and what is your current role?
I was born in Doncaster, Yorkshire but my parents took the brave step to start a new life in 1968 and our journey to Australia as “£10 Poms” began.
My current role is Personal Assistant to the Global CEO of GHD, which is one of the world’s leading professional services companies operating in the global markets of water, energy and resources, environment, property and buildings, and transportation. GHD provides engineering, architecture, environmental and construction services to private and public sector clients.
What is your background?
I am married and we have two beautiful daughters and many dogs in the family! We live in the Perth hills and love the peace and serenity of the bushland, whilst knowing 10 minutes down the road there is the hustle and bustle of daily life. We also have a beautiful view of the surrounding suburbs.
With the exception of three years in the Royal Australian Army, my working life has been in the administration field. I have worked in accountancy and transport, which also entailed helping to look after a charter boat and now for a professional services company.
How did you become an Assistant?
Back in the day when you became either a nurse or ‘secretary’, I chose secretary (more because I have been known to faint at the sight of blood). Along with a group of other giggling 15-year-old girls, we completed a year-long commercial course at Kelmscott High School, where I was lucky enough to be taught by Miss Denham. Prior to teaching, she was a Private Secretary and in my eyes was just beautiful and I wanted to be like her. We left the school mature young ladies ready for the workforce. Bring it on!
From the word go I have been lucky to have numerous role models, such as Miss Denham, that have helped shape me into the person I am today and I’ve never looked back.
What are the main changes you have seen in the time you have been an Assistant?
This is a great question! I have seen many changes since I started my working career and unfortunately not all for the best. The most exciting would have been the changeover from the manual typewriter to the electronic typewriter then progressing through the years to computers we know today. My very first position as a Girl Friday was with a very progressive accountant who already used a computer for creating his financials and it took up an entire room in his house and had carbon paper between the papers for copies. Once printed if you needed the figures again you had to re-input the details. How times have changed!
With all the modern technology we have at our fingertips now, it has created a fast-paced world and changed our jobs drastically. I embrace change and try to keep abreast of what is going on by listening to Podcasts and reading social media pages. These platforms have made the world an incredibly small place.
What inspires and motivates you?
My family, my work, the wonderful people I have got to know throughout my career and anyone with a passion to do the best or be the best they can.
What advice would you give someone just starting out as an Assistant?
To work hard but take the time to smell the roses, which sounds a bit corny but we sometimes forget there is more to life than work.
Never stop learning and treat the job as a profession. Embrace change and have a can-do attitude but overall have integrity and be respectful. Never doubt yourself and leave your mark in this world. I am a believer we are on this world for a reason and the people we meet are sent to us for a reason.
Tell us about the Australian Institute of Office Professionals (AIOP). What can Assistants expect to gain from becoming members?
I am the current National President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of AIOP and we are the only national professional body for office professionals in Australia. In October 2016 we undertook a complete rebrand. Our design includes more modern elements and uses overlapping diamonds, which reflect our new slogan ‘strength in our connections’.
AIOP is run by volunteers and has been around for 54 years. As an institute, we have reaffirmed our commitment to our members to strive to deliver professional development opportunities, along with networking opportunities and access to an on-line network of like-minded professionals through various social media platforms. However, more importantly we want to be the voice for the many people who work in the administrative field and enhance our profession and give it the recognition it deserves.
Speaking personally, with being a member of AIOP and rolling up my sleeves and getting involved I have gained confidence in my professional career. I have gained the confidence to present in front of 300 people. I have had the opportunity to meet people from all over Australia and the world who share the same passion and ethos for our profession. I have taken opportunities when they have arisen and made new friends and have learnt new skills.
So what’s next for Sue McComasky? Where do you want to be in five years’ time?
Personally, to continue to learn and develop and nurture people to take up a role in administration, as it can be a very fulfilling and rewarding career.
For AIOP, to see it grow to be the respected organisation it is deserving of and to rekindle our annual conferences.
Further down the field, 10 acres in Tasmania with lots of dogs, chickens, a veggie patch and a veranda to sit on, drink wine, and reflect on a career/life I would not have changed for the world.