It’s kind of the same, but not really!

I’m thinking back to the 50’s right now, to that ever popular and much maligned Leave it to Beaver television show. TV was in its infancy and as I look back at its innocence, I realize that while I came to reject some of the principles espoused (especially for dress & stockings & pearls &
housemopped June Cleaver), the lessons were indeed timeless.

Remember Ward’s secretary? The wonderfully efficient, multi-tasking wizard who took shorthand, typed letters, made appointments, answered the phone (what?!# No voice mail?) and ensured that Ward kept his work in top order. Her work WAS his work, really.

Actually, if you can catch a re-run of Leave it to Beaver today, it will feel like you’re watching life in slow motion.

Fast forward to today and we’re all living too hard, wired up to the world of neverland, hooked into the cosmos and expected to communicate in multi-speed.

That secretary of Ward’s has changed, too. First of all, it’s no longer a “she” all the time. The Executive Assistant or Administrative Assistant is also living life in the fast lane. Expected to know a dozen computer programs that the “boss” doesn’t know, being able to produce graphs, charts, interpret data and whip it into a dozen styles for distribution in a dozen ways… On top of that today’s admin assistant does complex travel arrangements, downloads directions to and from a zillion locations, uploads reports and details for conferences and trade shows. That same person creates attractive packages for trade shows, makes sure the company is registered and has a great traffic location at the show. If you want coffee, you can get it yourself!

Now, this column is not in celebration of International Administrative Assistant’s Day… no, sirree! It’s actually to recognize the critical role that these folks bring to the business table.

For people in business start-up–you know, the one-person enterprise that’s become the backbone of our economy–the idea of an administrative assistant is a dreamed-for luxury. While Ben Mountney (BAMM Automotive) is under the hood of your car, he’s wishing somebody else could book his appointments and send out the invoices AND collect the money. While Ricki Mintz is up to her elbows making her biscotti (12 flavours in all) she¹s wishing there was someone else to call all the coffee shops and gift basket companies to get her product out there.

So, Administrative Assistants are a career in their own right. And those Admin Assistants who pack in the J.O.B. in favour of being admin assistant to more than one client find they are so appreciated, so busy and bo needed!

And this is why Arlene Store, admin assistant par excellence, is interested in starting a Barrie Chapter of the Association of Administrative Assistants. The group has had a couple of brainstorming sessions, and recently put out invitations to other admin assistants to enjoy an evening learning about email etiquette.

The meetings will be organized to suit the group. The association offers accreditation courses that gives the graduate a designation of Q.A.A. Personal and professional development activities occur at the local level as well as provincially. Guest speakers, workshops, seminars, and opportunities to network with other admin assistants… those are the big benefits to an association. Leadership skills, the ability to look ahead and prepare for the future, in-depth support, an interest in individual interests as well as connection and problem solving… these are the bonuses to a membership in a Barrie AAA group. Membership cost of $110 yearly gives participants activity in the national organization and a real voice at the local level.

Of course there are one day seminars geared to developing management skills within the admin assist role. This organization is quickly expanding across the country and Arlene says the one-day seminar for admin assists and support staff will be held in Barrie on April 7.

This is just one example of the benefits of joining a group. As well it helps grow the role and the expertise of admin assists.

Arlene is convinced that Barrie is big enough to support this growing interest. She feels monthly meetings that run from right after work for an hour or so (5 to 7 pm) might suit the members. But first order of business is members.

If Administrative Assistance Association membership interests you, you can phone or email Arlene and she¹ll do the rest. Her phone is 705 728-1968 X1261 and her email is

It always takes a leader to get things started. Arlene is a leader in her own right. She also has the QAA designation after her name. She’s a pro with her hand open to join with others to create excellence.

Seems like a win-win-win to me.

Thanks, Arlene.