In April 1991, I answered a newspaper ad for an Administrative Assistant to the VP of Marketing. Little did I know that I would still be with this company 28 years later. How can someone be at one company so long? I’m not sure I could have had four distinct career paths with any other company (administrative, accounting, IT, and legal).
In 1991, the company entered a new phase after doubling its size with the classified advertising business. The interesting projects that greeted me on my first day included a new radio ad campaign, pulling together the company’s first prospectus to present to lenders, organizing and tracking the 70+ office leases, and many more in addition to supporting four executives. At this time, I had an Associates Degree, achieved the Certified Administrative Professional status, and continued taking classes at Virginia Wesleyan with tuition reimbursement. (I did two tours in the senior management administrative team; the second one was from 2004-2017.)
Five years later, the company purchased a new type of publication that required its operations to be completely siloed from the rest of the company. The accounting functions of this position appealed to me as well as the travel and overall responsibilities. I handled the weekly invoicing, posting deposits, reconciliations, collections, seller’s A/R, weekly payroll with sales commissions/bonuses, and updating weekly circulation routes. As the Vice President in charge determined the critical success factors for this new business, I assisted him with developing a Startup Operations Manual that would become the blueprint for opening new offices. I traveled to train the new office managers and assisted with the office launch. This rapid growth spurred another company reorganization with dedicated teams to handle these functions going forward.
In 1998 as our division grew, a dedicated Information Systems Group was created and I was added to that team along with several highly talented people from other departments. My responsibilities changed as the division changed—I started as Division Systems Administrator setting up our network in Home Office, Network Operations & Support Manager as our field offices setup networks, Manager of Production Systems as our field offices needed efficient ways to digitally paginate the magazines, and finally the Assistant Director of IT. Our team developed the long-term division systems plan and the next five years were very challenging as we endeavored to meet those goals. Kim, Michelle, Kathy, Kristin, Chris and I all had to take job-specific training classes. I had to pursue training on administering NT-based networks, network security, Windows Terminal Server, Citrix, JDEdwards OneWorld, TCP/IP, Coldfusion, and many more. If my records are correct, I took 15 technical training classes adding up to 39 days. I also had the opportunity to attend COMDEX twice and MacWorld.
A few years into our timeline, the company acquired a business which doubled the size of our division and our workload. Kim and I at times felt like the “two Bobs” from the movie Office Space. We traveled and evaluated every function, each team, met with each IT employee, and integrated the new team members. This acquisition added a great group of talented people (especially Jason) and more projects. We managed our teams remotely, traveled a lot, and continued improving the processes. As tough as this period was for all of us, it was hugely rewarding. Although the rest of this group has since moved on to other companies, we all remain friends especially in a “we survived” kind of way. I’m surprised we don’t have any pictures from this period, but this was before the days where a camera was part of your cell phone.
In 2004, I moved back to the senior management administrative team. I took my IT knowledge base with me and handled tech support for the senior managers. I continued to keep up with new devices, apps, and social media. Our CFO let me pursue these interests and conduct workshops for our management teams on how it could relate to our businesses. I was also asked to help with projects such as our company-wide migration to Google Apps.
In light of the CFO retiring in 2017, the company General Counsel asked if I would be interested in taking over the paralegal functions because she was also retiring. My workload shifted to include board consents, contracts, entity management, property & equipment sales, trademarks, domain management, compliance documents and special projects. I pursued trademark training since it was a big part of my job after our second paralegal left in August 2018. My history with the company has been the biggest asset with researching issues. Two years into this new role, I find myself constantly challenged with new, interesting projects.
In my new role in the Legal Department, I get to interact with some of our original leadership team. I’m glad LinkedIn provides a way to keep up with my former coworkers and supervisors since I’m not on Facebook.