Smart moves: A licence to outdo Moneypenny

The photocopier is whir-ring busily, the PCs are actively processing data and the filing cabinets are stuffed full of folders. So what's the most under-used resource in the average office? Surprisingly, it's the person in charge - the office secretary.

A recent survey by BT Business Paging, and the Secretarial Development Network (SDN), released last week, found that 73 per cent of secretaries and personal assistants feel under used.

"If companies are going to remain competitive then they need to make the most of their secretaries," says Freda Gardiner, the chairman of SDN.

The not-for-profit company was founded in 1991 to help secretaries achieve their potential. To do that it runs a range of workshops, seminars and discussion groups on subjects ranging from Finance for Non-financial Roles to Motivation Through Empowerment. It has hundreds of members, divided evenly between individual members, organisations and associates. Membership benefits in- clude involvement in and access to research, in- house consultancy and training, access to a full programme of training and development events and free sub- scriptions to magazines which focus on the secretarial sector.

"The term `secretary' is a misnomer," says Judy Fisher, director of a London recruitment consultancy specialising in secretarial and support staff for the media. "The image of a secretary as Miss Moneypenny, seated across the desk with shorthand pad and pencil, is over. Secretaries are now doing far more, and, in the media particularly, graduates use the role as a stepping stone towards becoming, say, a senior editor."

Stella Fox is secretary to the general manager of Castle Cement in Ketton, Rutland and finds that while she fulfils a traditional role for most of her working day she also plays a vital role as liaison to the general public. "I take calls and queries all the time, often to do with controversial issues. Sometimes I feel more like a diplomat."

Other firms are also changing. Janet Graham was one of several secretaries at Pfizer, the drugs giant, who joined SDNin 1995. Using the resources and advice provided, she formed an in-house secretarial network, which proposed a promotion system for secretaries.

"Before, secretaries were graded according to whom they worked for," Janet explains. "This limited promotion pros-pects. We spent a year working on our proposal, which was accepted by senior management, and now have two promotion reviews a year."

Last week, SDN facilitated a discussion group for secretaries and associates on challenges in secretarial development. Low self-esteem raised its head as one of the greatest challenges faced by secretaries, possibly because this is a career often chosen by women returning to work, at a time when confidence is running low. It also became evident that managers need to be trained to work with secretaries more effectively. Secretaries would welcome more feedback from their managers as well as opportunities for teamwork.

But SDN is not just about looking after the high-flyers. Ms Gardiner believes that it is the only organisation of its kind open to all levels of secretary.

"Junior secretaries who have perhaps just completed their NVQ level 2 need of support," she says. "We are unique in that we will even accept members with no formal qualification, providing they can get a reference and examples of their work."

For more information contact Freda Gardiner, SDN, 30 Nottingham Road, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire LE65 1DQ; tel: 01530 563000; email SDNLtd@aol.com.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
News
Comic miserablist Larry David in 'Curb Your Enthusiasm'
peopleDirector of new documentary Misery Loves Comedy reveals how he got them to open up
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Life and Style
David Bowie by Duffy
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Hell, yeah: members of the 369th Infantry arrive back in New York
booksWorld War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
advertisingVideo: The company that brought you the 'Bud' 'Weis' 'Er' frogs and 'Wasssssup' ads, has something up its sleeve for Sunday's big match
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Environment
Dame Vivienne Westwood speaking at a fracking protest outside Parliament on Monday (AP)
environment
Life and Style
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness