The Evolution of Administrative Professionals  

Ana Hillis, Administrative Assistant & Microsoft Office Specialist

More than 40% of the Canadian workforce is at high risk of being replaced by technology and computers in the next two decades. Among the top 5 occupations that are facing a high risk of automation, Administrative Assistant ranked 2nd.¹

However, Sean Mullin, Executive Director of the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship at Toronto’s Ryerson University, doesn’t believe all these jobs will be lost. “Many will be restructured, and new jobs will be created as the nature of occupations change due to the impact of technology and computerization.”, says Mullin.²

This calls for an evolution of administrative roles in the workplace. A need Ana Hillis, Administrative Assistant at a large Oil & Gas company in Calgary, saw as a chance to upgrade her current skills by becoming a Microsoft Office Specialist.

“It was one of my goals that I wanted to accomplish, and my boss [supported] doing any kind of training that will benefit not only myself, but the rest of our department”, says Ana when making the decision to start her Microsoft Office Specialist certification journey.

Unsure how to start, Ana sought the help of Janine Violini – a Microsoft Certified Trainer working with SAIT Polytechnic’s Administrative Information Management (AIM) Program. The AIM program helps students learn how to effectively use office software for productivity, to organize information, and solve problems to help businesses run smoothly.³

The result? Ana is now certified as a Microsoft Office Specialist in Excel and PowerPoint and is also a Microsoft Office Specialist Expert in Word.

Empowering the Workforce

Since getting Microsoft Office certifications, Ana has earned validation for having reliable skills and respect amongst her colleagues and superiors at the company.

Many have asked Ana for training including employees from different departments. Ana has become the literal expert on how to use Microsoft Office. The need has become so great that Ana was asked to develop her own training sessions that immediately address the skills her colleagues are struggling with.

“My goal is to try and implement training sessions that anybody can come to, as well as specialize them to what people need”, says Ana. “I have 30 people in my group [and] they tell me how great this is. They have written my boss saying how some of the things I have taught them have helped them save time.”

Ana is even training her boss, a VP,  who is also benefiting from her certification knowledge. After hearing the success others were having, Ana’s boss attended her training sessions and loved them, saying the training Ana provided “saved him a ton of time” with his own workflow.

 Productivity and Efficiently

In the current global market, businesses need to run effectively and efficiently. For Ana, it can be frustrating having to reformat entire documents for her colleagues, when having Office skills can strengthen workforce productivity.

“[People] don’t know that it could look better, or they can save an hour every day putting their documents together.”

According to a study, 85% of supervisors say Microsoft Office certified employees are more productive*. Having Microsoft Office Specialist certified staff reduces the reliance on and cost of technical support. Proficient employees improve efficiency and productivity to meet performance objectives that drive businesses forward.

 Increased Confidence and Job Security

Aside from skills validation and respect, Ana has gained an incredible amount of self confidence and self-worth.

“My value, and the value I bring to my company has doubled. Not only has it brought value to my company and to myself in my position, but also to me”, explains Ana.

Ana now displays her Microsoft Office Specialist certification badges on her email signatures and on LinkedIn, which Ana recounts, “so many are people looking at my profile, it’s crazy.”

For Ana, being a Microsoft Office Specialist is a career succession for herself. “I have always been the kind of person [to] make my own job, so I’m thrilled that I have been able to put myself in a position that I can do that at this company”, says Ana. “I think having that certification gave me the confidence to say, ‘hey, I really do know my stuff.’”

The Future

So, what does this mean for other Administrative professionals or companies that want to move forward?

“Our jobs are not the same as they were 20 years ago, and in 5 or 10 years they’re not going to be the same”, says Ana. Her advice?

“We need to keep up with the skills required to help our teams and make sure [everyone] can do their jobs efficiently. If we don’t know how to use these programs, then how can we possibly stay at our jobs?”

Contact CCI Learning to learn more about Microsoft Office Specialist or training your employees to become certified in Microsoft Office Specialist.


¹ CBC News 
² CBC News
³ SAIT AIM Program
*Microsoft Office Specialist Productivity Study, Certiport, 2012.

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