Secretaries Savor More Skills, Not Sweets

Article excerpt

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Tell Lisa Passantino the word "secretary," which conjures an image of a bouffant blonde in a sweater, and she may tail you with a staple gun.

Send flowers to Jackie McQueary on Secretaries Day and she may squeeze the pollen up your nose.

Overlook Donna Baker's role as technology trainer to her bosses and she may put a bug in your program. Actually, these are reasonable, refined women. They won't do these things, I don't think. But the annual approach of Secretaries Day, nestled on Wednesday in Secretaries Week, puts them on professional alert. Yes, flowers are lovely, as is a nice card or candy or lunch. But if you think that's the end-all of Secretaries Day you haven't heard Passantino, McQueary and Baker. Passantino is a "coordination specialist" who handles meeting planning and administrative functions at the Kauffman Foundation. McQueary is "administrative assistant" to the chairman at Sprint. Baker is a "secretary" at Hallmark Cards Inc. All are members in Professional Secretaries International, the Kansas City-based association that annually promotes Secretaries Day. Their titles are partly semantics, partly a nod to their souped-up skills and responsibilities in a profession that can pay up to $70,000 a year. The association's membership survey this year found that seven out of 10 secretaries (who make an average of $28,420 nationally) think the best use of Secretaries Day is to tell the rest of us what they do. Nearly the same percentage prefer to use the day to attend a professional development seminar for more training in software, supervisory skills, communications, business ethics or meeting planning. …

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