Secretary


Secretary

A secretary, or administrative assistant, is a person whose work consists of supporting management, including executives, using a variety of project management, communication & organizational skills. These functions may be entirely carried out to assist one other employee or may be for the benefit of more than one. In other situations a secretary is an officer of a society or organization who deals with correspondence, admits new members and organizes official meetings and events.

A secretary has many administrative duties. Traditionally, these duties were mostly related to correspondence, such as the typing out of letters, maintaining files of paper documents, etc. The advent of word processing has significantly reduced the time that such duties require, with the result that many new tasks have come under the purview of the secretary. These might include managing budgets and doing bookkeeping, maintaining websites, and making travel arrangements. Secretaries might manage all the administrative details of running a high-level conference or arrange the catering for a typical lunch meeting. Often executives will ask their assistant to take the minutes at meetings and prepare meeting documents for review.

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Etymology

The term is derived from the Latin word secernere, "to distinguish" or "to set apart," the passive participle (secretum) meaning "having been set apart," with the eventual connotation of something private or confidential, as with the English word secret. A secretarius was a person, therefore, overseeing business confidentially, usually for a powerful individual (a king, pope, etc.). As the duties of a modern secretary often still include the handling of confidential information, the literal meaning of their title still holds true.

Origin

Since the Renaissance until the late 19th century, men involved in the daily correspondence and the activities of the mighty had assumed the title of secretary.

With time, like many titles, the term was applied to more and varied functions, leading to compound titles to specify various secretarial work better, like general secretary, financial secretary or Secretary of state. Just "secretary" remained in use either as an abbreviation when clear in the context or for relatively modest positions such as administrative assistant of the officer(s) in charge, either individually or as member of a secretariat. As such less influential posts became more feminine and common with the multiplication of bureaucracies in the public and private sectors, new words were also coined to describe them, such as personal assistant.

Modern developments

In 1870 Sir Isaac Pitman founded a school where students could qualify as shorthand writers to "professional and commercial men." Originally, this school was only for male students.

In the 1880s, with the invention of the typewriter, more women began to enter the field, and since World War I, the role of secretary has been primarily associated with women. By the 1930s, fewer men were entering the field of secretaries.

In an effort to promote professionalism amongst United States secretaries, the National Secretaries Association was created in 1942. Today, this organization is known as the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) The organization developed the first standardized test for office workers called the Certified Professional Secretaries Examination (CPS). It was first administered in 1951.

In 1952, Mary Barrett, president of the National Secretaries Association, C. King Woodbridge, president of Dictaphone Corporation, and American businessman Harry F. Klemfuss created a special Secretary's Day holiday, to recognize the hard work of the staff in the office. The holiday caught on, and during the fourth week of April is now celebrated in offices all over the world. It has been renamed "Administrative Professional's Week" to highlight the increased responsibility of today's secretary and other administrative workers, and to avoid embarrassment to those who believe that "secretary" refers only to women or to unskilled workers.

Contemporary employment

In a business many job descriptions overlap. However, while administrative assistant is a generic term, not necessarily implying directly working for a superior, a secretary is usually a personal assistant to a manager or executive. Other titles describing jobs similar to or overlapping those of the traditional secretary are office coordinator, executive assistant, office manager and administrative professional.

  • At the most basic level (Grade / Band 1 or 2) a secretary is usually an audio typist with a small number of administrative roles. A good command of the prevailing office language and the ability to type is essential. At higher grades and with more experience they begin to take on additional roles and spend more of their time maintaining physical and electronic files, dealing with the post, photocopying, emailing clients, ordering stationery and answering telephones.[1]
  • A more skilled executive assistant (Grade / Band 4 to 6) may be required to type at high speeds using technical or foreign languages, organize diaries, itineraries and meetings and carry out administrative duties which may include accountancy. A secretary / executive assistant may also control access to a manager, thus becoming an influential and trusted aide. Executive assistants are available for contact during off hours by new electronic communication methods for consultations. Specialized secretaries at higher level also include Medical and Legal Secretaries/Personal Assistants.
  • The largest difference between a generalized secretary and skilled executive assistants is that the executive assistant is required to be able to interact extensively with the general public, vendors, customers, and any other person or group that the executive is responsible to interact with. As the level that the executive interacts with increases so does the level of skill required in the executive assistant that works with the executive. Those executive assistants that work with corporate officers must be capable of emulating the style, corporate philosophy, and corporate persona of the executive for which they work. In the modern workplace the advancement of the executive assistants is codependent on the success of the executive and the ability of both to make the job performance of the team seamless whereas the job place evaluation is reflective of each others performance executive secretary for now.

Training by country

Belgium

In Belgium, a Bachelor's degree in Office Management is ideal for the position. University courses economics, modern languages, and office administration offer great preparation for the position.

United States

In the United States, a variety of skills and adaptability to new situations is necessary. As such, a four-year degree is often preferred and a two-year degree is usually a requirement.

Executive assistant

The work of an executive assistant differs slightly from that of an administrative assistant. Executive assistants work for a company officer (at both private and public institutions), and possess the authority to make crucial decisions affecting the direction of such organizations, and is therefore a resource in decision-making and policy setting. The executive assistant performs the usual roles of managing correspondence, preparing research, and communication while also acting as the "gatekeeper," understanding in varying degree the requirements of the executive, and with an ability through this understanding to decide which scheduled events or meetings are most appropriate for allocation of the executive's time.

An executive assistant may from time to time act as proxy for the executives, representing him/her/them in meetings or communications.

An executive assistant differs from an administrative assistant in that they are expected to possess a higher degree of business acumen, be able to manage projects, as well as have the ability to influence others on behalf of the executive.

References

See also

External links


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Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • secretary — sec‧re‧ta‧ry [ˈsekrtri ǁ teri] noun secretaries PLURALFORM [countable] JOBS 1. someone who works in an office helping to organize the work, answering the telephone, arranging meetings etc: • His personal secretary (= one working for only him )… …   Financial and business terms

  • Secretary — Título La secretaria Ficha técnica Dirección Steven Shainberg Producción Andrew Fierberg Amy Hobby Steven Shainberg …   Wikipedia Español

  • Secretary — Sec re*ta*ry, n.; pl. {Secretaries}. [F. secr[ e]taire (cf. Pr. secretari, Sp. & Pg. secretario, It. secretario, segretario) LL. secretarius, originally, a confidant, one intrusted with secrets, from L. secretum a secret. See {Secret}, a. & n.] 1 …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • secretary — sec·re·tary n pl tar·ies often cap 1: an officer of a business concern who may keep records of directors and stockholders meetings and of stock ownership and transfer and help supervise the company s interests 2: a government officer who… …   Law dictionary

  • Secretary —   [ sekrətri] der, /...ries, in England im 16. Jahrhundert Bezeichnung des leitenden Ministers, später allgemein Minister Titel. Die wichtigsten Kabinettsmitglieder heißen Secretary of State. In den USA ist »Secretary of State« nur für den… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Secretary — Secretary, MD U.S. town in Maryland Population (2000): 503 Housing Units (2000): 218 Land area (2000): 0.258731 sq. miles (0.670109 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.258731 sq. miles (0.670109 sq …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Secretary, MD — U.S. town in Maryland Population (2000): 503 Housing Units (2000): 218 Land area (2000): 0.258731 sq. miles (0.670109 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.258731 sq. miles (0.670109 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • secretary — [n1] office worker assistant, clerk, executive secretary, receptionist, typist, word processor; concept 348 secretary [n2] desk bureau, davenport, escritoire, secretaire, writing desk, writing table; concept 443 …   New thesaurus

  • secretary — (n.) late 14c., person entrusted with secrets, from M.L. secretarius clerk, notary, confidential officer, confidant, from L. secretum a secret (see SECRET (Cf. secret)). Meaning person who keeps records, write letters, etc., originally for a king …   Etymology dictionary

  • secretary — should be pronounced as four syllables with the first r fully articulated, not as if it were spelt seketerry or sekretry …   Modern English usage

  • secretary — ► NOUN (pl. secretaries) 1) a person employed to assist with correspondence, keep records, etc. 2) an official of a society or other organization who conducts its correspondence and keeps its records. 3) the principal assistant of a UK government …   English terms dictionary


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