Brooke Wiseman, executive associate to the president and CEO of Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., headquartered in Parsippany, NJ, received American Management Association’s (AMA) 2008 Innovation Award for Administrative Professionals. Wiseman attended the 16th Annual Administrative Professionals Conference in San Antonio, Texas, to be recognized for her innovative contributions to her company, the U.S. subsidiary of Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd., a leader in pharmaceutical innovation since 1899. Wiseman also received her trip to the conference compliments of AMA.
AMA’s Innovation Award for Administrative Professionals celebrates outstanding examples of creative problem solving and innovation in administrative support. The primary purpose of the award, now in its tenth year, is to serve as an inspiration to administrative professionals as they advance in their professional development and seek new knowledge and skills.
With her company growing at a rapid pace, Wiseman identified the need to utilize the administrative professionals in a more productive way. She knew that a change was needed to help meet new business demands created by the company’s growth and expansion. While all members of the administrative staff had the same title, there were wide variations in their roles, responsibilities and the level of their contributions. She decided to explore ways to clarify expectations regarding the role and to provide administrative assistants with the tools to become more highly productive and valued team members. Her innovation, “The Administrative Development Initiative,” is comprised of two training programs, the “Power of Partnerships Program” and “Monthly Roundtables.”
“The Power of Partnerships Program” focuses on enhancing the partnership of the executive and the assistant, applying a team-oriented approach that identifies the administrative professional as a key contributor. To begin, both the manager and assistant take the Myers Briggs Type Indicator assessment. Each assistant participates in six one-on-one sessions with a coach over a five-month period. Participants also engage in three customized training sessions dealing with topics based on their input and yearly goals. Fifteen administrative assistants and their managers participated in the five-month program.
“Throughout the program I developed communications sent to the managers and assistants, managed the consultant and conducted periodic surveys with the participants,” Wiseman said. “At the end of the five-month period, I gathered the participants for a closing evaluation session where I gave a presentation detailing feedback and results. Our CEO and I participated in the 2007 program and that participation greatly enhanced our own partnership and communication.”
“Monthly Roundtables” allow the assistants to work cross-functionally—sharing company information and best practices, clarifying roles, responsibilities, and administrative processes, and creating opportunities for continuous personal and professional development.
“My vision for the Roundtables was to hold a structured event led by a different assistant each month,” Wiseman said. “I attended three days of facilitation training, and then, through coaching and mentoring, I gradually transferred leadership and facilitation of the meetings to other administrative professionals.”
“This all sounds easy, right? The reality is that I had to overcome many obstacles to achieve my goals, and to do so took nothing short of sheer determination and courage,” Wiseman said in accepting AMA’s Innovation Award. “I had the wise counsel of two very talented mentors in the organization. I took risks and I was willing to regularly step out of my comfort zone. I discovered that by overcoming each new experience, I gained strength and confidence.”
Wiseman’s initiative presented some formidable challenges, too. First, in order to gain executive buy-in, she had to educate senior leadership on the value of the program and then convince them to allocate funding. “The challenge was to provide the executives and assistants with the information in a way that would help them easily understand the design, goals, and long-term value of the program. I authored a white paper titled ‘The Power of Partnerships: How to Form a High-Impact Partnership with Your Assistant,’ as a ‘how-to’ guide. It was based on my own experience and expertise through working with executives, along with the research I had conducted earlier.”
Wiseman also had to manage uncertainty from the assistants themselves. “Some of our administrative staff had some hesitation about the program because it was new, involved change, and they weren’t sure how it would affect them,” Wiseman said. “Participation and positive results allowed them both to believe in and fully support the program.”
Perhaps the biggest challenge, however, involved creating and implementing the initiative while managing her regular workload, and providing executive support to the company’s president and CEO. To reach her goal, for two years, Wiseman regularly worked long hours, late into the evenings and on weekends while juggling family responsibilities.
In the program assessments, the participating managers and assistants agreed that the programs had achieved their stated goals and made significant impacts on the organization. Specifically, Wiseman’s Innovation Award-winning programs have resulted in enhanced skills and productivity for Daiichi Sankyo’s administrative professionals as well as improved partnerships between the executives and their assistants, including more interaction, more confident discussions, the ability of the assistant to take on some of the manager’s responsibilities, and new recognition of the importance of communication.
The application deadline for AMA’s 2009 Innovation Award is June 30, 2009. Entries will be judged on the basis of documented positive results related to at least one of the following: cost savings, efficiency, productivity, problem solving, problem prevention, employee morale, accuracy and integrity of operations, customer satisfaction, organizational effectiveness and organizational communication.
To be eligible for the award, the innovation must have been developed and implemented by administrative professionals and must provide tangible, sustainable and replicable examples of excellence that can assist others facing similar work and productivity issues. The innovation also must have been implemented for at least six months prior to the application deadline.
About Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.
Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. (http://www.dsus.com/), a subsidiary of the global research-based pharmaceutical company, is based in Parsippany, NJ. A central focus of Daiichi Sankyo’s research and development is cardiovascular disease, including therapies for dyslipidemia, hypertension, diabetes, and acute coronary syndrome. Equally important to the company is the discovery of new medicines in the areas of infectious diseases, cancer, bone and joint diseases, and immune disorders.
American Management Association (http://www.amanet.org/) is a world leader in talent development, advancing the skills of individuals to drive business success. AMA’s approach to improving performance combines experiential learning—learning through doing—with opportunities for ongoing professional growth at every step of one’s career journey. AMA supports the goals of individuals and organizations through a complete range of products and services, including seminars, Webcasts and podcasts, conferences, corporate and government solutions, business books and research. Organizations worldwide, including the majority of the Fortune 500, turn to AMA as their trusted partner in professional development and draw upon its experience to enhance skills, abilities and knowledge with noticeable results from day one.