The Evolution of the Administrative Professional
The Administrative professional role has evolved to mirror changing times. Expanded responsibilities and skill sets has given this vital role a new meaning and organizational impact.
The early days
Started by the Industrial Revolution, administrative assistants were first referred to as secretaries. As the industrial expansion caused office businesses to face a large amount of paperwork, the role of the “secretary” was introduced to resolve this influx of work.[i] The term itself had the eventual connotation of something private or confidential, as with the English word secret. A secretarius was a person, therefore, overseeing business confidentially, usually for a powerful individual. Initially, men held this prominent position, however, the introduction of women into the workforce allowed companies to hire females in these roles at lower wages[ii] Often designated as “personal” or “private” secretaries, the role was popular amongst women seeking a professional status. At that time, secretaries were required to possess strong typography and communication skills in order to support such tasks as answering and dispatching calls, and, redacting documents on their typewriters. Although undervalued, secretaries played an essential role in the overall performance of the office.
Often referred to as Administrative Professional, Office Coordinator or Executive Assistant — gone are the days of a singular title to categorize this pivotal role. An evolving society and the introduction of technology has clearly changed all facets of the administrative professional role. Today, administrative professionals manage the day-to-day functions of an office and many even have the added tasks of managing budgets, bookkeeping, maintaining websites, travel arrangements and managing meetings. Many organizations seek administrative professionals with a varying skill set — from typing at high speeds using technical or foreign languages, accounting to strong communication skills to interact with the public.
This profession has gone from being male dominated and entry level to a female dominated field offering full-time careers with competitive salaries and a potential for career growth. For every call you answer, document you prepare, spreadsheet you manage and of course the many other tasks you complete every day, thank you and happy Administrative Professionals day!
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