If I say the word ‘secretary’, does an image like this pop up in your mind?
We often can’t help jumping to a very outdated idea of what it means to be a secretary. The reality, however, is that the role of the secretary has evolved to such an extent that the word ‘secretary’ itself has largely been replaced by more appropriate professional titles such as ‘personal assistant’, ‘executive secretary’, or ‘management assistant’.
Traditionally, secretaries were ‘note takers’. They sat in on meetings to take minutes, they filed documents, and they handled most of the typing. While modern secretaries can be asked to do all these things, too, their roles within a corporate environment have enlarged considerably — not to mention how much their importance has increased in any modern organisation.
The duties of a modern secretary can include the following things and more:
- Mastering software used to create spreadsheets, databases, records, or presentations.
- Processing physical and digital information and data.
- Maintaining executive schedules.
- Using content management systems.
- Serving as the hub of communication in an office, liaising between employees and management.
- Serving as office administrator.
- Assuming HR responsibilities such as training junior staff.
- Managing projects and conducting research.
- Liaising with clients and suppliers.
- Being involved in decision-making processes.
The duties of a secretary, PA, or management assistant are also no longer confined to general tasks, but can change dramatically depending on the type of organisation he or she works in. The knowledge and skills required by a secretary can include:
- Knowledge of legal practices if you work as a legal secretary.
- Knowledge of the legal processes specific to your organisation.
- Public administrative knowledge if you work in the public sector.
- Public relations management skills.
- Financial knowledge if you work in an accounting firm.
- Other industry-specific expertise.
The most important change in the secretarial profession, as suggested above, is that it is a dynamic profession that requires a range of skills and expertise, as well as a high degree of adaptability.
How do you become a modern secretary?
Because being a secretary means so much more than it did 20 years ago, doing a short typist class is no longer enough to find work as a secretary. Secretaries, in their many incarnations, are highly skilled professionals who all have to go through extensive vocational training to build real careers.
Oxbridge Academy’s secretarial distance learning courses are extensive training programmes designed specifically with the demands of the modern secretarial profession in mind. These courses cover everything from computer skills and office management training to industry-specific subjects such as ‘Legal Practices’ for legal secretaries.
Oxbridge Academy offers a range of skills certificates and National Qualifications (N4 to N6) in the following fields:
- Executive Secretary (Personal Assistant)
- Professional Secretary (Human Resources)
- Management Assistant
- Legal Secretary
- Medical Secretary
True secretaries are much more powerful in organizations
Secretaries actually run the office because they know it all, even when the Chief Executive Officers are out on some other important matters the Professional Secretary is confident enough to fill in the gap and the office will run as smoothly as it would have been if the CEO was in.