Office Administration students during their Administrative Simulations field trip.
“Trustworthiness. Approachability. Professionalism. Poise. Flexibility. Superior communication skills.”
These were the themes emphasized by Sheridan Deans and Executive Assistants in answer to questions posed by graduating Office Administration Executive students. The group visited the Sheridan College Oakville campus recently giving them the opportunity to ask questions of an expert panel about their career opportunities.
The Sheridan School of Business students interviewed a group of deans and administrative professionals from around the college who offered to share some tips on working conditions expected of the Office Administration graduates when they start their careers.
The panel included Gerard Mercer, Dean of the School of Business; Michael Collins, Dean of the School of Animation, Arts and Design; Elisabeth Connell, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Finance and Administration; Donna Barton, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Student Services and Information Technology, Laura Christopherson, Operations Manager for the School of Community and Liberal Studies; Lisa Todd, Executive Assistant to the Dean of the School of Animation, Arts and Design; and Stella Coleman, Executive Assistant to the Dean of the School of Business.
Students presented a comprehensive list of questions to the panel about real world working conditions in an administrative capacity. The Executive Assistants agreed that their jobs were really about dealing with people, and that the technical aptitude was important yet secondary to people skills. The Sheridan Office Administration students were reminded they would need to work well with others, be approachable, and have a healthy sense of humour during stressful times.
A similar message about ‘soft’ skills was reinforced by the panel of Sheridan Deans. In response to the question: “What qualities do you think a person absolutely has to have in order to be successful in this position?” – the answer was – trustworthiness. The Deans agreed that their Executive Assistant must be implicitly trusted.
The Deans also stressed that their executive assistant needs to be professional and poised, one who others must see as someone they both respect and can count on.
Last was the need for superior communication skills, along with a perceived approachability. Deans Mercer and Collins agreed that Executive Assistants, were extensions of themselves into the college community and beyond, and needed to be well perceived by others, and able to communicate well with students, staff, other executives, as well as with the community.
The panel and visits were arranged by Leasa Steadman, Professor in the Office Administration group of programs as part of the Administrative Simulations course offered to the students in their final semester at Sheridan College.