Job Title: Office Administrator/Manager
Type of Company: My company manufactures and sells water-pumping equipment to municipalities. We work with engineering firms to write equipment specifications, consult with engineers while they are bidding on projects, and then work closely with the end-user when the equipment's arrived and is being installed.
Education: Paralegal AD
Previous Experience: I started as a secretary in a sales office and eventually became the assistant to the regional sales manager. I'm now the administrative assistant to the national sales manager.
Job Tasks: A typical day for me involves a lot of time spent on the phone. Because we're the corporate headquarters I spend a lot of time talking with sales people about their upcoming projects or issues they are having with our factories. I also speak to customers about all kinds of things: problems they've been having, the failure of salespeople to get back to them, the status of their orders, and so on. I work with my counterparts, too, at the five American factories that manufacture our pumps and equipment. Depending on the season or the day, I'm called upon to prepare sales forecasts, shipping reports and monthly newsletters and to arrange meetings for my boss. Our annual sales show requires additional exertions - booking reservations, sending out invitations to 300+ people, ordering promotional items, selecting entertainment, etc.
What you won't find me doing is the stuff you see in movies or TV: delivering coffee or running errands for the boss. This position is both serious and managerial, responsible for the smooth working of the office and of the flow of work through it.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is working with people all across the country and getting to know them on a personal basis. Whenever I'm traveling I can connect with any of these people and spend "quality" time with them. Another part of the job I like is helping customers and coordinating shipments with our factories. Believe it or not, it's actually very satisfying to be the person who's defused an emergency by seeing to it that equipment got delivered to a customer's plant.
The worst part of the job is dealing with employees who don't meet their deadlines and who shirk their responsibilities. As the national sales manager's assistant, I'm the one who fields calls from dissatisfied customers and their most common complaint is that their sales person is unresponsive to their needs. This can be very frustrating, both for me and for them. The customer is always your first priority and if you fail to respond to his calls, or respond in a way he dislikes, he's likely to go elsewhere. It just isn't any fun to speak with disgruntled customers and to have to badger their sales people to do what they should've done anyhow.
1.) To be effective as an administrative assistant, you've got to be organized. Bu t it doesn't hurt either to have a grasp of your company's products and goals. My own rule of thumb has always been "If I don't understand what you're saying, and I work in the business, the customer's not going to understand it either."
2.) Learn as many computer software programs as possible and incorporate them into your daily activities.
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