Heather M. Thomas CAP
Heather M. Thomas is an unwavering tech enthusiast. She's also a training coordinator for the Midwest Collaborative for Library Services (MCLS) in Lansing and president of IAAP's Michigan division. Because of her enthusiasm for technology, Thomas was put in charge of administering, moderating and training staff on contributing to her employer's informational blogs. From there, she became an expert in other Web 2.0 technologies, such as podcasts, wikis, social networking and RSS aggregators.
Thomas, who now oversees the MCLS's online training program, has since created a presentation on emerging technologies that she delivers at IAAP events throughout Michigan.
Advice to administrative professionals: "If there is a technology, idea or resource you are passionate about, don't be afraid to tell people — several times if you need to. Companies are constantly looking for ways to do things faster with fewer resources. Implementing technology can make it happen."
Advice to managers: "Ensure that the relationship between support staff and management is an open, inviting one where a person's ideas are welcomed without judgment and are properly recognized. Managers should also encourage membership in professional organizations such as IAAP because the ideas their staff will receive can bring an entirely new perspective to the company."
Bob Marshall believes that as telecommuting grows it will be critical for administrative professionals to embrace technologies that enhance collaboration. As part of his job as senior administrator at United Health Group in Hartford, Conn., Marshall procures and then deploys software to the vice president and director he supports, and trains others on the use of the programs.
Marshall brings an entrepreneurial spirit to his career, taking it upon himself to become an expert in WebEx, Cisco TelePresence and other video and audio conferencing programs. "These are great tools that I recommend all administrative staff become familiar with," says Marshall, president of the Greater New England Division of IAAP.
Advice to administrative professionals: "Reach out to your supervisor and ask for training that might not normally be part of your development plan. Request training in new technologies, attend IAAP events and stay on top of technology trends."
Advice to managers: "Encourage your administrative professionals to take as much training as possible in new technology and collaboration tools. This will help your admins react in a split second to your needs. Give them the time and financial support to go to conferences and explore alternative training opportunities on the Web, such as podcasts and videocasts."
Chief executive assistant Jasmine Freeman manages social media for Las Vegas-based Office Dynamics, a training and development firm for administrative professionals. From handling the technical aspects of the company blog and vlog (or video blog) to overseeing Office Dynamics' Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, Freeman does it all.
Since she took on these responsibilities in early 2009, website traffic and sales have increased significantly. "I have established personal connections with our clientele, allowing me to better understand their needs and concerns," Freeman says. "These channels also allow our clients to connect with us on an entirely new level."
Advice to administrative professionals: "Once you know who you want to connect with, why you want to connect and how you plan to connect, determine how much time you can devote to social media. I would start small. Otherwise, it can be overwhelming, causing you to call it quits early on. Second, take advantage of the wonderful tools that make using social media easier. The tools are changing almost daily, so it's important to stay educated on what is available to you."
Advice to managers: "If managers know what they hope to gain from using social media, they can sketch out their ideas with their administrative professional to define this new role or responsibility. The definition of my role has changed over the past year, and I think it's important to re-evaluate responsibilities frequently to make sure both parties are still on the same page."