by Junne S. Grajales, JUNE 2021
MPTC president and CEO Rod Franco’s executive assistant of more than 18 years, Lea Nebre (LSN) recently held “Heroes without Capes”, a two-part online learning session for secretaries, aimed to better understand the needs of today’s executives by learning how to prioritize, become more effective, and how to efficiently deal with conflict.
A learning session for secretaries has long been in the pipeline for LSN. She believes the lessons learned from her over 32-year career as an executive assistant, allow her to offer insights that resonate with the more than 50 attendees who are experiencing their own set of challenges.
The Role of an Executive Assistant and Secretary
An executive assistant and secretary are often expected to manage routine duties such as calendar management, travel arrangement, and meeting execution. Lately, and with the caliber of LSN, executive assistants and secretaries have grown to be the pillars of strength of our officers. “We are the glue that binds all the pages together,” LSN declared. “We serve as the company’s lifeline, the unsung makers of order, and the true heroes who command an army and run the show.”
Why Inspiration Matters
As a source of motivation, LSN shared that MPTC chairman Manny Pangilinan’s (MVP) first job was as the executive assistant to the president of the Philippine Investment Management Consultants, Inc. (PHINMA), where he served for six years. MVP’s inspiring story is a nod to the possibility of a likewise highly successful future.
Top Seven Skills Needed for the Future
The world of work is evolving rapidly, and we constantly need to keep up and stay on top of industry trends. With this perspective in mind, LSN underlined skills that one must learn to thrive in 2021:
- Emotional Intelligence
The key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels, tone of voice, and facial expressions. It is the most powerful form of listening, conveying empathy, and hearing the feelings behind what is being said.
2. Diplomacy and Negotiation Skills
Being diplomatic is a key to success in the business or any negotiation. It enables healthier management of work relationships via a “win-win method.”
3. Top-Notch Communication Skills
Communication goes hand in hand with discretion, loyalty, and reliability. It involves the capability to listen, understand, and respond clearly while managing emotions.
Conferences bring like-minded people together, that share the same desire to build on careers and who understand the power of networking. An expansive list of contacts encourages a trade of opinions to support long-term relations and shared trust.
5. Technology and Software Skills
Having access and familiarity with the latest company management tools is a must. With today’s ever-changing world, and several processes quickly shifting to automation, being highly computer literate signifies progress and innovation.
6. Taking an Initiative is Always an Appreciated Attitude
Understand the importance of taking the initiative, properly going above and beyond while collaborating with a team, and not waiting around to be told what to do.
7. Embrace Other Perspectives and Make the Right Choices
Behavior is the main factor in creating a healthy environment. A wise approach is to be able to look over differences and develop long-term beneficial relationships with the team.
- The assistant is all-knowing. We act as the eyes and the ears for the boss.
- We should be able to read the boss’s mind and pre-empt their every move. We are also the gatekeepers and chief secret keepers.
- Tell my mistakes to me, not to others, because my mistakes are to be corrected by me, not others.
- Those who gossip with you will gossip about you.
The Power and Importance of Attitude
Using correct grammar does not define your intelligence; school grades do not define your knowledge. “It’s the attitude that truly defines who you are,” she emphasized.
LSN chooses to remain positive and lives by the adage: “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.” Having the right attitude is a big factor in the changes. “Continue to adapt to the environment,” she underscored. “Otherwise, you will be left behind.”
A Legacy-Leaving Mindset
In celebration of her 20th year of service to the company last 2019, she advised, “Use every opportunity to do work to the best of your ability. Always go the extra mile.” She continued, “We are not only mere secretaries but also our bosses’ business partners. We are equally important. Bear in mind that behind the boss’s success is an empowered secretary.”
About the writer:
Junne S. Grajales. Junne Grajales is an Internal Communication Specialist for MPTC’s Communication and Stakeholder Management (CSM) Department. She is a graduate of Consular and Diplomatic Affairs at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde. where she served as the Editor-in-Chief of The Benildean, the official student magazine. Her skills include writing about culture and lifestyle, public relations, and event management.