PACE Success Stories: Bettena Kirkland

December 20, 2023


Bettena Kirkland

Welcome to the first installment of our PACE Success Stories series! ASAP's Professional Administrative Certification of Excellence (PACE) positions you as a highly credible professional who is serious about your career in the administrative field. Below you will find the experience of a PACE-certified admin, including how the program has positively impacted their professional goals and career pursuits. 

We invited executive assistant Bettena Kirkland to speak on her journey towards becoming PACE certified and the success she has experienced as a result.

Why did you decide to pursue certification as an administrative professional?

Bettena Kirkland: I was introduced to ASAP back in 2017. There was an administrative professional group run by the CEO’s executive assistant at one of my former places of employment and we would get together and discuss organizational problems and solutions, as well as share any information, articles, etc. from the administrative field. Much of that administrative knowledge came from ASAP.

When I learned about the PACE certification, I thought it would be a great opportunity to develop and strengthen my skills. I felt a certification proved that I was not just a “secretary” or someone’s “assistant,” but a professional who brings expertise and valuable skills to my team in a variety of ways. I wanted my company to know that I was serious about my career; so, when my director encouraged me to pursue certification, I knew that he respected my career and understood the benefits of my certification. At that point, I knew I was on to something great!

What was your experience going through the course? How long did it take to complete?

I was excited to begin the process, but I was a bit intimidated by all the information. It was helpful that three other coworkers decided to get their certifications as well, so we formed a partnership. We read chapters and would help each other with questions and comprehension. I also took the PACE Prep class at APC. The one-day summit was beneficial in helping me gain full understanding of the PACE information. It gave me an opportunity to ask questions and get thorough answers from the people who contributed to the study material. I found it very helpful. It took me six months between studying and passing the test to become certified.

What topic did you enjoy or think was the most beneficial while progressing through the course?

I enjoyed the Business Management segment of the course the most. I love history and I liked learning how business has evolved from the initial conception to the present. However, the most beneficial PACE subject for me was the technology portion. I learned tech-related language and was then able to speak to my company’s IT professionals with confidence. My newfound skills made it so I could directly communicate my team’s technology needs with others when pursuing new projects and department goals.

How has receiving your PACE directly impacted your professional goals and career pursuits?

I actually got my current position by having my PACE certification! The job announcement before I applied stated that PACE was a preferred requirement. In my initial interview, I asked the HR representative why PACE was listed for the position because I had never seen it before in other job postings. She said that her boss (who eventually became the person that I currently support) suggested that she at least study the material, along with her SHRM certification. He thought it would be a good investment for the agency and prove that his team was well rounded in various areas.

I eventually made it to the final round of interviews and spoke with the head of the government agency. In the interview, he asked me why I got my certification. I told him that I was serious about my profession and was committed to my personal and professional development. I also explained that I wanted to bring value to any team that I am a part of, which made him impressed. My PACE certification gave me a leg up from the other two finalists, as neither one of them had any administrative certifications.

What advice would you offer to other admins interested in getting their PACE to level up your career?

Please do it, regardless of whether you see the immediate benefits or not! It will probably be the best professional decision that you can make. Even if your employer does not value or invest in your company's administrative professionals, do it for yourself. The certification coursework will allow you to learn new skills and be better at your job. Your innovative skills will bring value to anywhere you work. Even if you do not stay in your current position, the certification will allow future employers to see that you have current industry knowledge and are committed to your professional development.

More about Bettena:

Bettena has been an administrative professional for over 15 years. All her professional administrative positions have been with membership-based associations, which is a common industry in Washington, DC. She has had the benefit of working in all areas, from the front desk to finance, though her expertise is in membership, board support, and conference and event coordination. Her past roles include membership engagement program assistant, executive assistant to the vice president of membership, and scheduling manager for the CEO of a major labor association. She is currently the executive assistant to the chief procurement officer for the city of Washington, DC and is responsible for the calendar of the CPO while also acting as liaison between their agency and other government offices. She works closely with the Chief of Staff on special initiatives and also supports the General Counsel. 

Bettena holds an associate degree in general studies from Prince George’s County Community College. She is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Maryland – Global College, which is the online subsidiary of the University of Maryland. She has three adult children and lives in the Washington, DC area. When not working, Bettena loves to travel, visit the Smithsonian museums, and listen to all types of music. She also loves to sing Karaoke, learn fun facts, and dance!

Want to learn more about PACE or explore other ASAP training opportunities to level up your career? 

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