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Meet Lucia “Cia” Sherman, 2013 Administrative Professionals Innovation Award Winner

American Management Association is pleased to honor Lucia “Cia” Sherman as the winner of AMA’s 2013 Innovation Award for Administrative Professionals. Cia is an executive assistant at Scott Fischer Enterprises (Harley Davidson Retail) in Fort Myers, FL. She received the award at the 21th Annual Administrative Professionals Conference in Las Vegas on September 24, 2013.

Cia’s award-winning innovation is “The Communication Innovation,” which involved leading the design and production of her company’s Pipeline newsletter. The Pipeline is a monthly newsletter produced in-house and mailed to the home of every employee. According to Cia’s Innovation Award application, the Pipeline “has significantly reduced communications fragmentation affecting over 250 employees across six locations, including the management office in more than four states nationwide, while saving the company in excess of $100,000 annually.”

When presenting Cia with her award at the Administrative Professionals Conference, Andrea Iadanza, AMA’s Director of Portfolio Management and Operations, told the audience, “It’s always exciting to choose the winner from the excellent applications we receive. Organizations need all employees to propose new ideas and solutions and successfully put them into action. What makes Cia’s innovation so special is that it was quickly accepted by her organization. It streamlined and replaced many other communications media in the company.”

In her stirring acceptance speech, Cia recalled the first time she attended the conference, in 2011: “I came up the escalator and saw signs for the Innovation Award all over the place. Given my competitive nature, my interest was immediately peaked. I remember being in the second row, excited to learn as much as I could and taking in the whole experience. The award presentation began and as I sat through the introduction, followed by (2011 winner) Barbara Cameron’s speech on her work with Admin U, I thought—yeah, I want to do that! I can do that! And I will do that!”

We spoke to Cia Sherman to learn more about her award-winning innovation:

AMA: What is the purpose of the Pipeline newsletter?
Communication is the cornerstone of our company’s health, and as with a company of any size, effective communication has always been a concern. Over the years, our attempts to tailor our communications methods across a diverse and widespread workforce led to an inconsistent communications strategy that frustrated employees and executives alike. We now practice a business philosophy called “Organizational Health,” our belief system that is ingrained into every facet of our company. There are four principles to creating a healthy company. The newsletter is based on the third principle, which is to “overcommunicate our company’s purpose, values, strategies, and business definition.”

AMA: What challenges did you encounter when introducing your initiative and how did you overcome them?
Cia: Launching the newsletter was not an easy process. Since I rely on input from the General Managers and the Marketing Managers in each of our locations, it was time-consuming to track down the information. I kept pushing and coming up with ideas on how to make it easier for them to get the information I needed to me, including outlining a year’s worth of topics in advance! I wanted this to be a success and I knew it could be. As the publication grew and the content expanded, the value our staff placed on their contributions expanded exponentially. The pipeline is now a full 12-page color publication with a special insert once a quarter to highlight major projects.

At one point the organization considered moving the work to another department or outsourcing the publication altogether. But the first option would result in little more than moving the work around, and the latter would have cost the company over $100,000 annually. So it has remained with me. I am proud to announce that as of this Conference, I have published my 21st consecutive issue.

AMA: Do you have any advice for your administrative professional colleagues?
Cia: On that October day in 2011, I listened to Barbara Cameron and heard about someone in an administrative role breaking out of the conventional mold and making such a significant impact on her company. It really motivated me to look for innovative ways to contribute to my own company. I would urge people to find something you are passionate about, believe, and persevere. Don’t stop at the idea: take action and get it done.

Well done, Cia! AMA is proud to honor you with this award.

It’s not too early to think about AMA’s 2014 Administrative Professionals Innovation Award. We will keep you posted about how to nominate yourself or your team in upcoming issues of Administrative Excellence.

Learn more about AMA’s resources for Administrative Professionals.

About the Author(s)

Shari Lifland is Editorial Communications Manager for American Management Association.  She is editor of the eNewsletters "Moving Ahead," "Management Update," and "Administrative Excellence," and manages content for the Members-only section of AMA's Website.