2003 AIOP – Office Professional of the Year Awards

THE Australian Institute of Office Professionals hosted breakfast functions in cities throughout the country on Wednesday April 23 to recognise the achievements of the nation’s office professionals.

The WA event was held at the Hyatt.

WA AIOP president Gail Lilly said the event, formerly known as Secretaries Day, was renamed Office Professionals Day two years ago to take account of the expanding job description of modern secretaries.

“Business are demanding that employees become more multi-skilled and the AIOP acknowledges this changing role,” Ms Lilly told WA Business News. “We promote cross training and the embracing of further studies.”

Carol Ward has worked at Grant Thornton for more than 24 years.

“I consider myself an office professional, really. I feel I know everything about the company,” she said.

WA Local Government Association employee and AIOP judge Helen Haley said: “Personal assistant, payroll officer, whatever you want to call them, they are the company backbone”.

Ms Ward said office professionals were integral to the success of a business,

“We free up their [other colleagues] time so they are able to do other tasks,” she said.

Ms Lilly echoed this sentiment when she told the breakfast that CEOs were only as good as their office professionals.

Although Ms Haley said any stigma attached to the word ‘secretary’ had gone, male faces – apart from Channel Nine presenter Peter Holland and former WA premier Richard Court – were few and far between at the breakfast.

Ms Lilly said secretarial and administrative work remained a profession dominated by women, with 98 per cent of AIOP members being female.

This year’s top AIOP award went to Richard Court’s personal assistant of 21 years, Wendy Ireland. A self-confessed quiet achiever, Mrs Ireland has many strings to her bow, including holding a current pilot’s licence.

Accepting the award, Mrs Ireland said the role had been under-rated and undervalued for too long, and urged office professionals to work harder and take on more responsibility.

Mrs Ireland listed loyalty as the key to good employer-employee relations.

The encouragement award went to Mellissa Mclean for her reception-administration assistant role at the Waters and Rivers Commission Swan River Trust, while Maree Clune, the administration assistant to WA Newspapers chief-of-staff Chris Manly, won the achievement award.

Nationally, the AIOP has 2500 members, with 280 coming from WA. Ms Clune said AIOP experienced an average of 20 per cent growth in membership per year.

The WA branch has 35 corporate members including Edith Cowan University, Burswood and City of Sterling.

Those seated at the Burswood table decided the definition of a good secretary was someone who had, “patience, patience and more patience”.

Major sponsors included Drake and Avery Denison Office Products.

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