What Admins Want

February 13, 2024


Want a raise, quiet quitting, or struggling to stay positive as an admin or executive assistant? Stephanie Powley talks with Peyton Ticknor about common questions and issues that come up for admins and how to resolve them.

Recorded at the Administrative Professionals Conference 2023 and produced by the American Society of Administrative Professionals - ASAP. Learn more and submit a listener question at

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Leah Warwick: Hey, everyone. I'm Leah Warwick, and you're listening to The Admin Edge. This episode was recorded at the Administrative Professionals Conference 2023. Here's Peyton Ticknor, Senior Administrative Assistant, with Stephanie Powley, Executive Assistant, recapping some group therapy sessions they co-moderated at APC as ASAP Advisory Board members about what admins really want.

Peyton Ticknor: Stephanie is a C-suite executive assistant with over 15 years of experience. Welcome to the podcast, Stephanie.

Stephanie Powley: Hey, happy to be here.

Peyton Ticknor: Alright, so I want to ask you: What are the most common things you hear EAs and admins say that they want, but they're not getting?


Stephanie Powley: More pay. A better salary balance across the United States. There is a big discrepancy between what EAs are making on the West Coast versus the East Coast, and the internet has opened those doors. There really is a lot of salary transparency now across the world. It's in job descriptions. It's everywhere. It's a hot topic. All the EAs I talk to are asking how to get to that next level of salary, or how to get that level of respect from the people who are giving them their paycheck, to explain why they should be at those salary levels that they're seeing across the board.

Peyton Ticknor: What is your advice for them to go and ask for a raise?

Stephanie Powley: I think that that's a very complex question. It really depends on where you are in your career, your relationship with your manager. I think that it varies so much that there's not one set [in] stone advice; but I think the best way that works for everyone, at least as a start, is to really start documenting what you do, your biggest wins. Make sure you're keeping track of that, so when it comes time to explain why you're worth more, you have proof.


Peyton Ticknor: I agree with you, yeah.

Stephanie Powley: You have the numbers to back [it] up. I'm not just asking for you to pull this money out of thin air because I want it; there's a reason.

Peyton Ticknor: Yesterday, in the session that I moderated, that was one of the questions is: "How do I ask for a raise?" And I said, the first thing you need to do is you need to find the job description that you were hired for, and then you need to take a look at what you're doing now, and you need to document it. I feel like managers and leaders, they like to see numbers, so if you can put numbers — "I'm bringing in 50 visitors a year. I'm putting on two big events a year." If you put numbers to what you're doing and you bring it in and they look at it and they're like, "Oh, wow," because they can see what you're actually doing with the data.


Stephanie Powley: Yeah, you have to quantify your wins, 100%.

Peyton Ticknor: I agree with you. Okay, so what are the most pressing issues that need to be solved to ensure a positive future of work for EAs and admins?

Stephanie Powley: Along the same lines of respect, I think that there needs to be louder voices in the room for the EAs in companies across the world because they're usually the last line of inclusion and they're not really included in things as much as the rest of the employees. Professional development is something we usually have to ask for or fight for. It's not just built in automatically, like it is for other roles.

So I think that a lot of coaching could go out to executive teams on how to utilize executive assistants properly. Get it out there more that we're not just schedulers. We're not just using the calendar, that old-school belief about the role, and really start to explain the trajectory that a lot of admins who are respected are taking. 


I was talking to one of the vendors here, explaining how secretaries used to go from secretary to executive secretary to chief secretary, and now secretaries are going from secretary to chief secretary to chief of staff to COO. A role that used to be considered entry level, "you're the backup, you're the support" is now laddering into the C-suite. We're getting there, essentially breaking the glass ceiling for the role. 

Peyton Ticknor: Yesterday we had our group therapy session here at APC, and you and Tony moderated one, myself and Alexa moderated another. I'd like to hear what was your question that came out of your session, and how you guys gave advice to the room for that top question. 

Stephanie Powley: I was really surprised by the amount of sharing that happened in the session. Everybody got really honest and shared a lot. It got very personal. So it's really hard to pick just one because of all the stories that I remember I heard yesterday.


The one that stuck out that I think is a popular topic right now that people are, ironically, not talking about because it's quiet, [is what] one of our attendees asked — she's technically quiet quitting. She's not happy in her role. She's looking actively for another role, and she was asking her peers how to stay present in the role while she knows she's leaving, or how to stay focused or not get too flustered because she's in a toxic situation. 

I really think the advice that came out of that from me, from Tony, from others, was to reframe everything in a positive way. When you're frustrated with your job, try to coach your brain like, "Yes, everything is really tough today. It can be very negative." But kind of sit yourself down and say, "I still have a job. It might not be the best today." 


Looking at everything in a positive way, because the more negative you bring into your world, the more negative things are going to seem. 

Peyton Ticknor:  Absolutely.

Stephanie Powley: Something I always say to myself is "show me how it gets better." So when I'm in a bad mood, I'm always like, "Just show me how it gets better." When you say that to yourself, you're automatically going to start seeing good things.

Peyton Ticknor: I will say that I've been in a situation where I wasn't thrilled about the job or the role that I was in at the time, and somebody told me one time, they said, "All of these experiences that you're dealing with are going to be really good interview answers," and I was like [laughter] ding, ding, ding! I was like, okay, there's a positive outcome of this situation that I'm in right now. I'm going to have some really good interview answers as I'm looking for a new role.


Stephanie Powley: Yeah. What's an extremely popular interview question is: "Tell me about a challenging situation you were in, and how you handled it."

Peyton Ticknor: I get that every interview that I've ever had in the last 15 years. That's a positive spin on that question that you guys got.

Stephanie Powley: Yeah, start writing down the bad situations and how you dug yourself out of them, and then you have your script ready for your next interview. That's a really good point.

Peyton Ticknor: One of the things that came out of our session was — we had a few people in higher ed, and they were talking about how, during COVID, they lost a lot of staff and they're not backfilling that staff, and they're doing the role of two to three people now, and they're very overwhelmed, and their workload is so large they never feel like they can take time off. They're working long hours.

My advice was: As administrative assistants, we're not saving lives. We're not medical doctors. Whatever gets done in one day, gets done in one day, and the rest can get done another day. We have to take care of ourselves if we want to be better at taking care of others. 


What would you say to someone who's having that issue? They used to have five admins and now there's two, so how are they dealing with that workload? 

Stephanie Powley: My answer to this is two-fold. The first thing I want to point out is that the reason that they're not hiring anymore has less to do with funding and more to do with: We had five admins, we cut down to two, and those two admins never said no, so we don't need five admins because they're doing it. 

We kind of, as admins, pigeon-hole ourselves to where we end up taking on more. The top level, at the end of the day, it's money — they want to save money. Us as admins, if we just keep saying yes and taking on more, even taking on jobs that are above our paygrade — I know a lot of admins that are doing C-level work. They're doing the work. It's because they didn't say no. 


Peyton Ticknor: They're setting that standard.

Stephanie Powley: You're setting the standard for yourself. There's a lot of power in saying no. You can say no. It doesn't mean you're going to get fired. It doesn't mean you're going to get in trouble.

On the smaller-scale side of it, if you're going to take on — we actually had someone in our session bring this up, and one of the things that came out of it was — I think Tony might've said it, or somebody else, that basically, if you're getting all this work from all these other admins, and you have too much work, take a daily register of everything you're doing every day, and whatever's not time sensitive, stop doing that. 

Peyton Ticknor: Absolutely.

Stephanie Powley: Basically, get rid of all of the things that don't matter, that can come later, that aren't time sensitive, and only focus on what you can focus on. At the end of the day, everybody is replaceable. If you left tomorrow, they'd figure it out. Your job posting is going up. So don't take that too seriously. Also, that's a mental health thing in itself. If you're not taking care of yourself, you can't do a good job.


Peyton Ticknor: You're eventually going to burn out.

Stephanie Powley: Yeah.

Peyton Ticknor: Absolutely. Well, Steph, it was great talking with you and listening to your insight. I value your insight and your friendship for the last five years, so thank you. Where can listeners find you online?

Stephanie Powley: I think the best way to find me online is professionally on LinkedIn; I'm Stephanie Powley. You can connect with me there. Outside of professionally, I'm Stephanie Jane everywhere on social media. That's where you find me.

Peyton Ticknor: All right, well, thank you, Stephanie.

Stephanie Powley: Thank you.

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Leah Warwick: Thank you for listening to The Admin Edge, produced by the American Society of Administrative Professionals. Original music and audio editing by Warwick Productions, with audio and video production at APC by 5 Tool Productions. If you like this podcast, please leave us a nice review wherever you listen to podcasts, and subscribe. If you want to send a listener question, you can submit via the form on our website at

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