Ask an Admin: How Can I Advocate for Professional Development Opportunities?

November 10, 2023


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Welcome to Career Corner: a monthly blog series from ASAP that offers career advice from seasoned professionals, in response to questions from administrative and executive assistants.

A commonly asked question for those in the administrative profession is how to advocate for professional development opportunities. This could include how to ask your supervisor for PD budget to get certified, join a professional association such as the American Society of Administrative Professionals (ASAP), or attend a training event such as ASAP's Administrative Professionals Conference (APC) or EA Ignite.

We brought this question to Preethi Balasubramanian, an executive assistant at Carpenters' Regional Council in Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, as part of our "Ask an Admin" series.

Watch Preethi's video response and read more below!

Question: How can I advocate for professional development opportunities?

Preethi Balasubramanian: As administrative professionals, we play a vital role in the running and success of our organization. Technological advancements and AI are transforming the admin profession rapidly, making professional development increasingly important to stay current, gain new skills, and advance.

When it comes to professional development, most of us look to our employers to choose what we learn or fund it for us. Therefore, we must find our voice, advocate for ourselves, and ask for what we need.

To advocate for professional development opportunities, I follow these steps:

1. Understand Company Policies

Check company policies regarding professional development. Some companies have designated budgets for employee training.

2. Define Goals

What do I want to achieve professionally this year? For example: learn a new technology, get into a new role, etc.

3. Research

Identify workshops and conferences that match my role and goals, as well as the company's.

4. Align with Company Goals

Clearly demonstrate how the chosen development opportunity aligns with the company’s goals and how the new skills can benefit my team/executive and the organization.

5. Prepare a Proposal

Create a formal proposal outlining the details of the professional development opportunity, including the name of the program, dates, costs, and a brief description of what you expect to gain.

6. Show ROI

If possible, I will provide examples of how similar investments in professional development have benefited me, other employees, or teams in the past.

7. Be Confident

Approach the conversation with confidence. Clearly articulate why this opportunity is essential for your professional growth and how it will ultimately benefit the company.

8. Be Open to Discussion

Be open to discussing the proposal. It is possible that your executive has suggestions or concerns that you did not consider.

9. Follow-up

I give my executive sufficient time to review the proposal and follow up politely to reiterate my enthusiasm.

10. If Denied

Ask and understand why the training/professional development opportunity is denied, then seek self-directed opportunities such as free online learning, reading books, participating in online forums, etc., and continue to advocate for professional development.

When advocating for professional development, keep in mind that it is not all about what you as an individual gain; it is about how your enhanced skills and knowledge can benefit the organization as a whole.

More About Preethi:

Preethi is an award winning, certified, and experienced administrative and human resources professional. She has 15+ years of experience supporting senior and C-suite executives and Board of Directors, and leading HR initiatives at various organizations from start-ups to large MNCs.

As the executive assistant to the executive secretary treasurer of the Carpenters’ Regional Council, Preethi provides direct administrative support to the EST and the executive team. In this capacity, she is responsible for activities such as, but not restricted to, board meeting organization, travel administration, strategic analysis reports, HR policies, and internal communication.

Preethi holds an MBA degree with a double major in Human Resources and Information Technology. She also obtained a Certificate in Business Communication from The University of Toronto and participated in The Leadership in Administration Program at The Rotman School of Business. She holds the international designation as an Advanced Certificate for the Executive Assistant (ACEA). She also has the Canadian designation, Canadian Certified Administrative Professional (CCAP) and the ASAP certification, the Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE).

Preethi is enthusiastic about both giving back and the administrative profession. She actively volunteers at events and conferences within the admin space. 

Preethi has held several roles within the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Association of Administrative Professionals over the last six years and is the current president.

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