A Rose By Any Other Name . . .

By Gillian Callison

Published July 21st, 2015

What's in a name?

In our society we often get caught up in the name of something, seeming to forget that it isn't the name itself, but our own personal interpretation of the name that gives it its meaning. In my profession, I have heard many titles assigned to the job I perform, but I often refer to myself as a "secretary". The title and job has been around for hundreds of years, probably even longer. I can easily envision the first secretary being the one who drew the cave paintings on the wall to ensure the details of the hunt were captured for future generations. An official keeper of the records was born!

A quick web search will bring up many origins and, over the years, variations to how the word "secretary" is defined. It can as easily be a position of high power, such as in the Secretary of State, or a position with lesser responsibilities, but a vital role nonetheless, as in a business office secretary. For the purposes of this writing, I refer largely to the most common office secretary. Other titles that could refer to this position are many, some include: Office Assistant, Administrative Assistant, Executive Assistant. The former "Secretary's Day" has become "Administrative Professional's Day". Personally, I like Secretary's Day better. It's clear and you know exactly who you're appreciating on that day. Administrative Professional's seems too broad. In my mind, it could encompass anyone who works in any administrative role, which could include managers and high-level sales people. I'm not sure how well the change of identification enhances or bolsters up a person's sense of identity in their position when it can include so many more professions.

The Professional Role

For me personally, as a secretary, I have many roles. I am a confidant, ensuring the "secret" in secretary has meaning. I am also one who creates and maintains order, develops processes for things to be accomplished quickly and efficiently and someone who is truly "grace under fire", so that when all the world is disintegrating around your boss, the secretary maintains calm and becomes the eye of the storm. This critical piece of the job is one aspect that transforms a good secretary into a great one. When others, who are bombarded by the demands of their job, can turn to the secretary and know, with confidence, that whatever is asked will be done quickly and professionally, they can then relax knowing their delegation of duties will be handled.

Another quality of an excellent secretary is one who can provide elite customer service, not only to customers or clients but also to their boss and co-workers. Treating everyone you come into contact with as a customer and providing top-notch service sets the secretary apart from your average employee.

If you are a Secretary, be proud of the name and the services you provide. It is a challenging profession to do well and very rewarding.