A passion burns bright for the OPSA/Rexel National Office Professional of the Year winner Joanie Nel

It is Wednesday, 2 September 2015. The winner of the OPSA/Rexel National Office Professional of the Year Award is being announced. I hear my name, Joanie Nel, but somehow the connection to activate my actions and responses struggle to connect. That feeling, standing in a crowd while everyone communicates at the same time, leaving one overwhelmed, unsure whether to run, listen or react incapacitates me.

However time does not stand still – it never does, for nobody. It follows the same rhythmic movement continuously regardless of the environment and title one carries. I hold the trophy and the title is bestowed on me for 2015. Winning the OPSA/Rexel National Office Professional award is a great honour and acknowledgement of professionalism. This is not the destination, not nearly, it is but the start of an incredible journey.

The National Office Professional of the Year Award is the most prestigious and longest-standing award presented to the most outstanding Executive Assistants, Personal Assistants and Office Professionals across South Africa! As much as the trophy, bouquet of flowers, gifts and title is awe-inspiring and appreciated it is but a keepsake. More importantly is what accompanies these items, the unseen unspoken challenge and the choice to follow in the footsteps of great masters, to make a difference and create a legacy.

It is the answer to this decision that will define the winner in years to come. Like-minded Office Professionals have stood at this crossroad with two choices:

  • celebrate the success of the award and continue to be an exceptional office professional; or
  • start a journey of change, growth, learning, development and exude excellence by growing oneself, helping others to grow and enhancing the role of the Office Professional.

There are fires burning in my core. The fire to succeed. The fire to make a difference. The fire to continue where exceptional office professionals learned, created, inspired and uplifted others to generate a wave of change within the office professionals’ environment. These fires are burning too fierce not to accept this challenge. This is not a choice but my passion, it is a certainty where my path leads going forward. I accept the challenge. I am an Ambassador for my Profession.

But what does this mean, being an Ambassador for the Office Profession? An ambassador is a diplomatic representative. This representation provides a platform from where one is able to exercise great influence. Through communication and the cultivation of relationships, one is able to share knowledge and experience while attracting the best attention to the profession through tact, good will and constant professionalism.

The impression the ambassador creates will be representative of the organisation, in this case, office professionals. This is a privileged task that requires dedication and commitment on a full-time basis.

As technology advances and the digital world expands, the professional environment changes. As the ambassador for office professionals I should continually be refining my abilities and acquire new skills as I strive for new solutions and more effective approaches to the working environment.

Bringing together teams with common objectives and shared passions creates strength. Strength that supports the company, strength that uplifts the profession and strength that empowers individuals. As an ambassador for office professionals, encouraging teams to come together in common purpose of excellence and professionalism would be among the priorities. The promotion of forums to create platforms where information and knowledge can be shared with ease and spontaneity, where office professionals have a voice and can develop and hone their skills to accommodate and advance within the ever-changing business environment. As an ambassador for our profession, mentoring and supporting these and similar initiatives is an integral part of the job.

My image as the ambassador, as a leader, should be one that attracts the best individuals to join the profession as the ultimate profession of choice. It is through this image of professional sophistication that companies, management and corporations can be encouraged to respond with vigorous support of our profession.

Unfortunately, or should I say fortunately, accepting this challenge does not remove the fear, doubt and uncertainty. But as I close the door to the past, on this journey I am honoured to acknowledge my acceptance as part of an academy of excellence giving me access to the most inspirational mentors, previous award winners who are willing to teach me, guide me and uplift me without any monetary payment in return. It is therefore important not to allow the fear, doubt and uncertainty to cripple me but to use it as a learning opportunity to persevere through, to overcome and step from my comfort zone into a world filled with possibility and excellence.

The knowledge that I will fall, that failure will be part of my journey, that challenges will come my way is not something that frightens me but rather inspires me. It inspires me to grow swiftly, stand up faster and retain my focus on those who inspire me, the exceptional Office Professionals. Those who exude excellence, who have come from the same platform where I stand today, accepted the challenge to be an ambassador and still continue to cause ripple effects in the industry.

I welcome my role as Ambassador for the profession, salute all current and past Ambassadors, and look forward to welcoming future ambassadors to join us on this amazing journey.

Joanie Nel’s career as an assistant started in 1996 and her passion for the profession has grown ever since. In 2015 she won the OPSA / Rexel National Office Professional of the Year Award - an award that is presented to the most outstanding Executive ... (Read More)

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