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WAIFEM enhances secretaries’ productivity

Aug 6, 2014, 10:45 AM | Article By: Osman Kargbo

Executive assistants and secretaries from across West Africa are undergoing a ten-day course on productivity enhancement at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi organised by the West African Institute for Finance and Economic Management in collaboration with the African Capacity Building Foundation.

The regional course, which runs from 4 to 12 August 2014, brought together participants from The Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone.

In the past, the role of the secretary was limited to typing, answering telephone calls and taking notes, as the secretary was seen as a person employed to take orders, write letters, carry out dispatches and keep records, the second deputy Governor of the Central Bank of The Gambia, Oumie Samba Savage, said while delivering a keynote address on behalf of Governor Amadou Colley at the opening ceremony of the course.

The expectations, she added, were all about the clerical aspects of secretarial work, which was the job description that existed up to the 1970s.

“Over time, the expectations of executive assistants have changed a great deal, and their roles and responsibilities in organizations have also evolved,” she noted.

“While the clerical component is still an essential part of what executive assistants do, routine secretarial duties are low in priority and much more is expected from them today.”

Mrs Savage also said some of the key expectations from modern executive assistants are good knowledge of the business, exceptional organizational skills, good interpersonal skills, good decision making capabilities, and excellent written, analytical and organizational skills.

It is clear that greater professionalism has been introduced into the work of executive and personal assistants, the deputy governor noted, saying executive assistants might set up and oversee administrative policies and procedures for officials.

“They may work with departments and corporate officials, and liaise with other organizations and associations on behalf of the executive,” she added, saying: “Indeed, the personality and capability of an executive assistant can impact on how the senior executive is perceived by others, and how the organization is perceived by key stakeholders.”

As the first contact point for internal and external clients, the executive assistant is the face of the executive team, she continued: “The effective executive assistant frequently upgrades his knowledge and skills to meet the challenges of his/her calling.”

The course on “Productivity Enhancement for Secretaries and Personal Assistants” has become increasingly popular because of the urgent need to bring to the fore the important support role of secretaries and personal assistants in institutions and governments given the highly demanding and busy schedules of chief executive officers, said WAIFEM Director General Prof Akpan H. Ekpo, while delivering his welcoming remarks on the occasion.

Designed to provide executive assistants and secretaries of CEOs and directors with the critical knowledge and skills necessary for effective and enhanced job performance,the course will enable participants to learn and understand the roles, duties and responsibilities of the executive assistant/secretary, personal assistant and senior secretary; acquire the knowledge and skills in office administration and management essential for the effective discharge of their responsibilities; develop and upgrade interpersonal skills for office management; and update their knowledge of the latest office technologies.

The broad themes being covered in the ten-day course include personal/administrative assistantship; office administrative issues and challenges; office technologies, records and data management; grammar; effective business communication skills and report writing; minutes writing; and advanced Microsoft word skills and applications.