Last month the IAM was invited to attend the Environment Agency's National Secretaries Training and Development Day. This was the third national meeting of those who support their management teams throughout the 12 geographical areas they operate.
For many Administrative professionals, a key part of their role is to reach and find solutions to changing circumstances to ensure the smooth running of the organisation. IAM general manager Andrew Jardine, offered an insightful presentation about problem solving (you may be interested in this blog post about problem solving).
One of the event organisers, Sue explains "many organisations, with the added pressures that modern working life bring now, operate as efficiently as possible. But this also means there is little flexibility left to deal with the unexpected. So when everything is going well the great work that keeps everything running smoothly can often be overlooked. But when this is disrupted it is often down to the quick thinking and organisation skills that are often found within administrative professionals to fix the situation. I believe this is when administrative management staff come into their own and when their skills are put to the test under the watchful eye of grateful colleagues".
The agency has been holding these meetings, not only as an opportunity to share best practice, but to recognise the value of their administrative employees and to help build confidence.
She explains that "without effective systems, an organisation cannot thrive. Administrators use their skills and working practices to enable leaders and specialists to deliver their roles well. Administrators need to be proud of what they achieve each day and recognise that they perform a vital role in their business... and maybe when appropriate, gently remind those around you of how many hours you have spent "adding value" and making colleagues lives much easier".
Prior to the event, we caught up with her to find out a little more about her career. She started in Administrative and Customer service roles, before moving as an Office Junior and later joining the Environment Agency. After studying a Diploma in Administrative Management with the IAM she secured her first team leader role, before moving into Management. Throughout her career she has been responsible for a number of departments and is currently the Area Environment, Planning and Engagement Manager.
Her main responsibilities now involve working with other leaders within their area to deliver priorities, managing issues and risks to agree approach and response, reviewing area performance to ensure corporate objectives are met and to look for opportunities to work in partnership with others. It is important to do the job well, but it is also important to be seen as a professional in my own right. That is why I strongly believe in continuous development and the credibility provided by my membership of the IAM".
You may also be interested in one of our member profiles.
On top of their "day job" of managing offices, diaries, travel and more; PAs, EAs, Office Managers and Administrative Managers alike are increasingly being called upon to organise corporate events.
Oona Macdonald and Holly Jones, set up the PA guide for this very reason (the PA guide is a venue guide and PA network in Birmingham). Here are their tips on finding the perfect venue.
Firstly, you'll need to establish the tone of your event - Are you aiming to entertain, inform, or impress your guests? Will your event be informal or formal? How many attendees are you aiming for? This should hopefully help you narrow down what kind of venue you should be looking for.
Draw up a shortlist of venues that you think might be suitable. It is always worth asking your friends or colleagues if they have recently been impressed by a particular venue and keep an eye out for newly opened venues as they can increase interest in your event. If you haven't already been to a venue, arrange an appointment to have a look at the space and facilities before you book, website photos and review sites can sometimes be deceiving.
Start organising your event as early as possible, it will give you time to plan more thoroughly, more venue and date options and the chance to get a good quality attendee list. It is also advisable to check that your chosen date doesn't clash with any other corporate events, major sporting events or even school holidays.
Establish how much you have to spend on the event, without a set budget it is easy to overspend. Talk through your requirements and budget with potential venues to make sure that holding your event there is feasible. Ask if there are any deals to be done, if you don't ask, you don't get! Make sure everything relating to costs is agreed before your event too, you don't want any surprises when you get the final invoice.
When planning the details of your event imagine you are one of your guests. Walk through the details of the event as they would and not down all of the little details that you need to cover off. Things like reserved parking spaces, clear signage, a welcome desk and cloakrooms are all small details but important details to think about.
Can your venue cater for any food or drink requirements and, if not, do they restrict you to working with specific catering companies? Consider whether they can cope with specific dietary requirements. It is also sensible to establish early on whether your venue has the correct equipment for your event - are they able to supply microphones and screens etc? Or, will you have to hire them from an external source.
Finally and most importantly, create an event plan detailing all of the aspects of your event and make notes as and when tasks are completed. This saves you having to scroll through emails or scribbled notes later. A week or so before your event, set up a meeting with your venue to run through everything, this should highlight any outstanding issues or areas that can be improved and give you plenty of time to deal with them.
This post was published to show the IAM's support (partners & supporters) for EventWell17 week. The Event Industries first National Well-being week.
Paula Gibson - Venue Scanner
1. Once you're clear about the type of event you're throwing, such as an Office Party, Conference, Product Launch etc, you'll know the type of venue you're after. The key area to consider initially is location. If you secure the correct location that appeals to the key attendee's, everyone else will follow. Don't always assume that the city centre is the best place to host the event. It's often the most expensive place to travel, sleep, eat and meet in. Extend your search further afield.
2. Searching for a venue can be hugely time consuming. There are some excellent platforms available that can help you discover and book a choice of fantastic venues in a short space of time, such as VenueScanner, where you can type in what you are looking for and find the best venues at the best prices based on your requirements.
3. A venue is going to want to know your capacity, budget and venue space layout. If you know the type of event you are looking to throw, these three elements should be quite easy to come by. The event budget should be your first consideration as this will often determine your capacity. You don't want to invite above capacity, only to discover your budget can't cover it.
4. If you have not already been to the venue, do your research, look at photos, read reviews and speak with the events team at the venue to gauge what they would be like to work with. If you can, organise a visit to the venue to meet with the Head of Events and if food will be served at your event, arrange to meet with someone from their catering team.
5. When booking the venue, ensure that there are no hidden costs or extras on the invoice and that everything is accounted for prior to the event. Discuss with colleagues exactly what will be needed during the event: AV equipment, flip charts, stationary, company branding throughout the building, etc. There is a lot to consider and each item usually comes with a price tag.
This post was published to show the IAM's support (partners & supporters) for EventWell17 week. The Event Industries first national wellbeing week.
One of the crucial things to think about when planning an event is your budget. Paula Gibson from Venue Scanner gives her top tips to make sure your event finances stay on track.
Tip 1: Clear Budget
Make sure you know exactly what your budget is to start with. Your boss may ask you to book the Christmas party or a networking event but before you start the process get clarification on the exact budget you're working with, either overall budget or price per head. This will allow you to be very direct in your search, not wasting time and energy on venues that end up being over budget.
Tip 2: Breakdown Budget
Have a very clear understanding of the type of event you are looking to host. Create a spreadsheet with a very clear breakdown of everything that needs to be considered for this event to go ahead. This should include compulsory items such as food and drinks, to those extra luxuries such as decorations. By documenting everything you require you can put together a very specific cost breakdown, you then have individual item budgets in mind before approaching the venue. It will not only make the process much more efficient, but ensure you don't go over budget.
Tip 3: Put Monday Aside
When budgeting for your event always put a little aside to cover last minute costs. However much you budget, plan, create spreadsheets, an added cost always seems to pop out at the end. Whether this is you run out of drinks (people get thirsty at Christmas parties!), you need to pay a little for taxi's, you've forgotten a last minute crucial decorative piece, you'll never be disappointed that you have that extra emergency cash. And hey, if you end up not needing it, I am sure you'll be the cherry of your bosses' eye when you tell them you went UNDER budget.
Tip 4: Events Agency
Depending on the size of the event you may want to enlist the help of a third party events agency. Before doing this, do your research on any extra's they may add to your bill at the end - it's always best to be completely transparent from the start. Equally it's worth considering the free events service certain platforms offer, such as VS Events, where you can work with an events expert at no extra cost.
Tip 5: VAT Consideration
Do not forget to factor into your budget the potential 20% VAT or service charge on your final bill. Check with your venue whether the VAT is included and ask about service charges for any restaurants you use.