By Julie Bales, VA to a number of private clients.
Julie Bales, PA to Entrepreneur and author Dan Bradbury, has been told countless times that she is ‘just admin’.
PA Life spoke with Julie Bales, to find out more about her experience hearing these words…
“Having worked in an administrative based role for over 25 years, I feel I’ve done my time and earned my stripes.
I’ve had a variety of roles including Admin Assistant, Admin Manager, Business Support, EA and now currently PA to Entrepreneur and Author Dan Bradbury. Like most of us in a PA or EA role, it’s something that’s developed out of our extensive skill base, adaptability to change and willingness to support.
So, even after all of the dedication and professionalism we show, after all of the confidential information we’ve been a part of and the huge number of tasks that have landed (sometimes unnecessarily) on our laps. Why do people still think of the role we play as ‘just admin’?
Let me make this clear! Not one of us in this role is ‘just’ anything, nor anyone else ever in what they chose to do. We all have an important, valid and worthwhile place at the table.
I don’t believe there’s a profession that works across every department in every industry, yet we still have to fight to be recognised as professionals in the workplace. From health care to education, from construction to hospitality and internally from sales and marketing through to finance and HR – admin support runs through every aspect of any organisation and I’d challenge anyone to find any other role than can make a claim on this!
The question I’m wondering though is that ‘Is it the way we see ourselves?’ Whilst I believe as a profession, we will always champion each other and recognise the hard work that we all do – are we as good at championing ourselves? Is it the language that we use about ourselves, or has it become acceptable to allow the sometimes derogatory conversations and other people’s mindset about the role we play?
I can only imagine some of the stories we’ve all got about such times…
One of my most memorable was a time I was sat in the vicinity of someone discussing a similar role to mine with my executive, in comparison with theirs. They weren’t especially complimentary of the PA role (used to that!) and didn’t see the value in the support that a PA provides. (I could obviously write a whole new article on the ROI we provide!)
But to hear the phrase ‘she’s just admin’ being said out loud, while I was there I found unbelievable. Whilst I don’t think we need to justify anything – this person had less experience in their profession than I had with less professional qualifications. My biggest regret in that situation was that I didn’t speak out or challenge their perception of the role. It definitely woke me up though to the way that we are too accepting of other people’s opinions and thoughts.
I know I’m one of the lucky ones – my executive values my input and support and doesn’t take kindly to being criticised about what he chooses to spend his money on for his business – me! I do know from experience though that this hasn’t always been the case and I’ve had to fight to even be heard in the past.”