ASAP talked to Ann Lesizza, Director of Administration at the Center for Business Excellence, about her career and memories of attending ASAP's Administrative Professionals Conference (APC), now in its 25th year.
What is your most important tip or trick to any new administrative professional or seasoned professional that would refresh their outlook on the career? I began as a “secretary” in 1966; this career is ever changing. The Administrative Professional field can be anything you want it to be if you keep learning and growing. Always be prepared for the next opportunity; you never know when it will be knocking at your door.
What is your most cherished story from APCss of the past? I have many, many cherished memories from APCs of the past – my very first APC in 1996 when I met five amazing women and we began a network/friendship group that lasted for years. We would meet each year at APC and have a great time. We would discuss business solutions as well as family matters. Another cherished memory was when APC made special (amazing) arrangements at the Dolphin Hotel at Disney to celebrate the many years (17th APC at the time) that I had attended the conference, made me feel like a “queen”!
What responsibility/technology/role/aspect of the administrative profession has changed the most over your career? At my first APC in 1996, we stood in lines at the telephone banks in between sessions to check in with our offices; not too many had cell phones or email. The internet and email were just beginning to take hold. It seems that now, many more admins are part of the management team.
What was your favorite APC location and why? APC took me to so many places that I probably would never have gotten to see; Las Vegas, San Francisco, Washington, DC, etc. I think one of my favorite locations was San Diego. My late husband and I extended the stay and had a wonderful vacation. But, we had a wonderful time in Nashville too! I thank APC and my company for those many cherished memories.
What advice would you give to your younger self? I would tell my younger self to get all the training I could and to not miss any opportunities available. APC provided the majority of my training over the years.
If you had one day for an on-the-job-do-over, what would it be and why?I, like everyone, have had “those” days that I wished I never got out of bed. There was the day that I never turned on the recorder at a big meeting and had to “fudge” the minutes. Or the day when I sent the President to the wrong airport in DC and she had to ride an extra 40 minutes to get to the hotel.
What or who is your ideal APC Keynoter and why? There were so many great keynotes over the years. Mary Lou Retton, Governor Ann Richards, Erin Brockovich; the overall outstanding message was that you can be and do whatever you set your mind to. Don’t waste your life on fretting over the past, push yourself to achieve your dreams.
Who was/is your favorite manager/executive and why? I’ve had good ones and some really bad ones and I learned something from each one of them. But I have to say that the best have been with the company I am with today and have been with for the last 22+ years. My current President/CEO is also a dear friend. We have “grown up” with this company. She cares about people and has a warm generous heart. She has listening sessions with staff on a quarterly basis to better understand their concerns and needs.
What learning stands out from the training offered in your 20 years of attending? I think the training that stands out most was the training on Negotiations that was given by Dr. Elaine Re. I really applied that training to so many things in my job and at home. I took over the purchasing for our company, began to handle the leases and lease negotiations, facilities management, etc. My position and responsibilities grew and I attribute much of it to what I learned at the Negotiations training and subsequent trainings that helped expand my day-to-day knowledge.
How has your training at APC evolved over time? APC has continuously offered trainings that were relevant and current. APC listened to what the attendees were asking for, they added different tracks to ensure everyone would have training that they needed. Since I have worked in this field for so many years, my biggest hurdles were technology. I hate Excel spreadsheets. APC has offered specialized training in various software and devices that are used in our jobs daily.
What is your prediction of the profession over the next 25 years? Based on the last 25 years, I can’t even imagine what the next 25 years will bring. I’m sure there will be much more virtual training and every desk will have “Alexa” to answer questions. The one thing that will never change and will probably need to increase over the years will be the need to network with our peers. There is that special training piece that you gain when you hear from others their problems and solutions. There is the vital connection you get when you realize that every day thousands of Administrative Professionals are sitting at their desks or sitting in meetings and helping to ensure that their company achieves its goals and is successful. Behind every successful organization, there is a strong admin team.
Thank you, Ann, for your amazing contributions to the profession, to your colleagues, to the Conference, and to the APC & ASAP Team. You are a dear friend to us. Cheers to another 25 years in the biz!
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