Laure Rabaey

Why did I become a Management Assistant?

After completing my secondary education I had no idea what I wanted to study. After several college visits I chose the Management Assistant programme at Hogeschool Gent university college. Ultimately it was an informed choice and over time it became clear that it was also a good choice! Of course you learn a lot more on the workfloor but it was the perfect preparation for my current job!

2009 Bachelor Office Management of the Year

In the course of my second year (in 2008) at the Ghent University College one of our lecturers mentioned the Secretary Plus “Bachelor Office Management of the Year” contest. It was the test of choice and a good springboard for graduate students in Office Management. In contrast to almost all of the other students I immediately became convinced that I wanted to participate. It was the ideal benchmark to be compared with other students with the same passion for this profession.
All the candidates, all last-year students in “Office Management” in Belgium took part in a four-round selection procedure. They tested our motivation, our competences and skills that are important for a professional career in office management. After each round a limited number of candidates were selected to go to the next round. After the intake discussion, the language, computer and psychological tests, the practical session whereby you replace a fictional assistant and the job interview I was invited to take part in the final!  There they presented me with the 2009 “Bachelor Office Management of the Year” award. I was surrounded by my proud family. My legs were shaking, I was so nervous.
So I will always remember my first introduction to Secretary Plus.

Throughout the entire contest I could always rely on the ladies who were responsible for the organisation of the contest as well as the ladies at the Secretary Plus Office in Ghent who have always shared valuable information and tips with me!

Springboard

With this award Secretary Plus aims “to build a bridge between education and the business community by rewarding promising Management Assistants and valorising the multifaceted job of co-manager”. They rewarded my motivation and efforts. As the winner I was also offered a contract by Secretary Plus Outsourcing Solutions, and the opportunity to start work immediately for my first employer! I think of this award as a real springboard for my career.

All this has given me the required self-confidence as well as a clear insight into what the position of Management Assistant really has to offer. It has opened a lot of doors for me and today I hold the challenging and instructive position of Management Assistant CEO in an international company like the Plopsa Group.

Future

I think that this job will only continue to evolve in the future. For quite some time Secretary Plus has been raising awareness among schools, the business community and also Management Assistants that they are so much more than just a “secretary”. It can be very instructive for all the parties involved to read and closely monitor the publications of Secretary Plus, such as their digital magazine “Vision”, the book “Het Assistantberoep – Verandering is de enige constante”, their website www.assistantplus.com and so on.

I myself have started a LinkedIn group called “Lerend Netwerk Vlaamse Management Assistants” with almost 300 members to date. We network in this group by asking each other questions, exchanging tips, publishing job openings… Why Flemish Management Assistants? Because the profession is similar and yet so different in the Netherlands and in the rest of the world. Our Dutch neighbours are also much more ahead of the curve, publishing more professional magazines, organising custom information days/evenings and so on.

In the future I want to actively help improve this by keeping the current Management Assistants up to speed with events by and for Management Assistants, promoting Learning Networks (like that of Voka, the Flemish Chamber of Commerce), supporting publications, following training (like the Open Academy Plus training programmes that Secretary Plus offers) as well as providing support for these trainings and making them more accessible. At the same time I also want to raise enthusiasm among students who are still weighing their options or who have chosen this training programme for this fascinating, evolving and varied job. 

Laure Rabaey,
Assistant CEO (Plopsa groep)