Jane Adams is the Administrator to the Centre for the Development of Teaching and Learning at the University of Reading, which also includes PA duties to the Director. Jane is a member of the Institute of Administrative Management (IAM) and is also a keen blogger.
I’ve been working at the University of Reading as the Administrator to the Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning for 2 years now and in that time my perception of what an administrator does has dramatically changed. When I joined I thought that administrators (and I’m generalising here) helped make sure an office ran smoothly, did the filing and photocopying and tidied up the loose ends that other people had created.
In reality, it’s far more than just that. My job as I have come to know it is much more complex and varied than I ever imagined it could be, with relationship building, decision making and proactive planning being an integral part of my role.
My days start early; I’m usually in the office for a good hour before the rest of the team come in and I try and make that hour count because it’s usually the quietest time of my day. After I’ve greeted the cleaners and checked the departmental email and twitter accounts it’s full steam ahead, starting with my own in-box which always reminds me of the magic porridge pot story I loved as a child. It just seems to keep filling up.
My current team is made up of seven people and I am basically their go-to person for all kinds of support, from departmental finance, organising meetings, ordering stationery, receiving deliveries, liaising with staff across the University, updating the website, editing the blog, planning events, booking rooms, arranging catering, being a secretary at meetings and much much more.
This is in addition to my own work on specific projects, planning ahead for anything on the horizon and dealing with those curve balls that come out of nowhere and land, with burning urgency, in your in-tray. I’m the office problem solver; the first person people generally seek out when they can’t find things, don’t know how to do something, need something fixing or need to know who to get in contact with. In essence I see my role as supporting my manager, the team, the office, and by extension the University, and that’s a lot of people to keep happy and organised on a daily basis!
No two days are the same for me, I can be sat taking minutes in a committee meeting with the Pro-Vice Chancellor, all the Faculty Directors and the Head of my Directorate one day and liaising with the porters and cleaners about the bins and office post another. It sounds like a cliché but I’ve really learned that in a role like this you need to be proactive to plan for the known tasks, flexible enough to handle the unknown ones and calm enough to do both at the same time.
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