All-Star Ninja Team Snapshot
Ana Cunanan, Annabelle Olmo, Catherine Clemente, Elvia Marquez, Emily Diola-Cernal, Emma Miles, Estela Cota, Gina Barreras, Grace Pangilinan, Jacqueline Dupont, Jesielyn Enopia, Kathleen Robinson, Kristy Wolk, Lisa Milanes, Nancy Nordberg, Sherri Rudd, Simon Perry, Tiffany McClain, Tonya Carter, Vanessa Castro, and Vickie Jette
Maxim Integrated in San Jose, CA
Every year, the admin team presents an Honorary Assistant Award to one non-admin Maxim employee who provides outstanding support to the assistant community.
For every Ninja who’s operating as a department of one and crushing it, there’s a team of admins who are using their collective energy and resources to lead an organization. That’s why we chose to launch a brand new award category this year: OfficeNinjas All-Star Team!
Collaboration takes work. In addition to self-awareness and emotional intelligence, it requires solid business skills, like negotiation, project management, and communication. The admin team at Maxim Integrated in San Jose, California, have all this and more. How else could over 20 (!) Ninjas work internationally and across multiple time zones to create career training opportunities, leadership programs, and inter-company awards just for Maxim admins?
These teammates are an inspiration! And, lucky for us, they’re sharing the blueprint for admins who are eager to harness the power of their fellow Ninjas.
Enjoy our Q&A with Nancy Nordberg, Executive Assistant to the CEO, on behalf of the admin team from Maxim Integrated!
Maxim Integrated Admins connect across time zones and celebrate their 2020 OfficeNinjas All-Star win during a fun(ny) remote team building game presented by The Go Game.
How long has your current team worked together?
We are going on our fourth year.
Tell us about the craziest project you have ever had to collaborate on.
Our team hosts our annual Assistant Excellence Conference, multiple awards programs, and monthly educational meetings. So, needless to say, we are always crazy busy!
It takes a lot of passion and cross-collaboration to produce so many events in a year, but we’ve built a culture of cooperation within and across the assistant team so working together on separate projects but to a common goal is part of the fabric of our team.
What’s your favorite part of your admin team?
We respect one another. We know each other. And we agree that it’s okay if you don’t know what you don’t know.
We’ve done extensive outreach to create a fully engaged admin team — we do not work in isolation. The domino effect is that we know each other, we understand each other’s personalities, stresses, and successes.
We’ve organically nurtured an environment of safety. You can say you need help. You can say you don’t understand. You can say you’ve never heard of something. You can say that you’re behind.
Mutual respect reigns.
Maxim Integrated CEO and members of the Admin team pose for a group photo during a monthly education event.
What’s one tradition that your team has?
We have a few special traditions.
Do You Know is our monthly lunch and learn event co-lead by admin team members Jacqueline Dupont and Ana Cunanan. Each lunch and learn consists of two educational presentations — we’ve explored a variety of business and company culture topics — and each one is an incredible learning experience.
Do You Know is attended by ~30 assistants, our speakers, and a slew of internal guests, including our CEO, Chief Human Resources Officer, and other executives. And our global assistant team doesn’t have to miss out! We have each event professionally recorded and shared with them.
Speaking of our global assistant team — at our yearly Assistant Excellence Conference, we celebrate our HQ assistants (we have 30 at our HQ in California) with an elegant lunch and inspiring and informative speakers. But we also have 47 assistants who are located around the U.S. and internationally. Since our remote team members cannot attend, we’ve made it tradition to send each of them a “thank you” gift for being an important part of Maxim Integrated’s success.
Another tradition that is so important to us is our presentation of the annual Honorary Assistant Award. This award honors a non-assistant Maxim employee who best exemplifies the attributes of a highly successful assistant and provides outstanding support to the assistant community. In previous years, we’ve presented the award to an IT helpdesk employee, a facilities manager, and an HR manager from the Philippines!
This person is nominated by the global assistant community and selected by a panel of admin judges, coordinated by admin team member Lisa Milanes. The winner receives a certificate of recognition and a beautiful trophy with their name and title, and the inscription: In appreciation for your dedication to our Maxim Assistant community.
This award is so well received, and everyone involved believes in what it represents. It is a high honor to be an assistant!
Maxim Integrated’s SVP & General Counsel Ed Medlin announces the 2018 Honorary Assistant Award winners, an annual awards program created by the Admin Team to recognize non-admin colleagues for their outstanding collaboration.
How do you respond when a member of your admin team is stressed or upset at work?
We have a tremendous advantage — we know each other, which has cultivated an environment that encourages communication. Since I understand my teammates, I can comfortably ask, “Are you okay? Do you need a moment?” The response is often, “Do you have a minute?” or, “Things aren’t so great.”
We work hard to build our communication and relationships with each other so that it’s safe to ask and to share.
How does your company set your team up for success and help you grow together?
In part, our success is inspired from the top down. Our CEO Tunc Doluca, requested in my 2011 annual review that I “become the assistants’ advocate and take them to the next level.” And our company has backed me up by funding resources for professional development through a number of programs.
Recently, Mr. Doluca challenged Maxim assistants to grow their business acumen. Once again, the company is funding budget programs that meet the challenge. Our monthly Do You Know lunch and learn has carried the torch, with topics that focus on understanding business processes. Meanwhile, our One Maxim Meeting Recap program specifically teaches Assistants about Maxim’s business.
Mr. Doluca has set an expectation of growth and development. And, because there is a lot to managing a budget, our budget team has a finance partner who provides guidance throughout the year.
I had the pleasure of presenting a topic at one of the “Do You Know” workshops. They set up prep meetings to go over details and dry runs to make sure I had everything I required and felt very comfortable prior to standing in front of everyone. They’re very considerate, encouraging, and compassionate. – Kathleen Robinson, Executive Assistant
Subscribe to OfficeNinjas
Get researched and relevant professional development content curated and delivered to you each Thursday. And, it’s 100% free.
How do the members of your team motivate each other?
We say “thank you” and recognize a job well done, both verbally and in emails. It may sound like a small thing, but it isn’t. “Thank you!” and “Great job!” go a long way. Being appreciated just feels good.
Members of Maxim Integrated’s Admin Team strike their fiercest Ninja pose.
How do you see the admin profession evolving? How does your team stay ahead of the curve?
As a recent article in the Wall Street Journal stated, “The canning jobs are gone.” Going forward, top-level assistants must be able to demonstrate administrative chief-of-staff skills. Newcomers to the profession will need a business degree or an appropriate degree that aligns with business comprehension.
Our team stays ahead of the curve through our development programs and networking with other companies. Both keep us up to date on what current and future expectations are within our career field. They keep us relevant.
What are your greatest professional achievements as a team?
Securing an $80,000 budget in 2018, to fund production of our Assistant Excellence Conference, various awards programs, and a slew of successful global growth initiatives designed to up-level our team’s talents and skills.
But it didn’t happen overnight. In 2015, when the assistants at Maxim Integrated’s headquarters in San Jose, California, decided to hold our first Assistant Conference (renamed Assistant Excellence Conference in 2016), we had no money to fund the event. So, we decided to go to the head of each business unit and functional department in our organization to ask for $300. It was a rigorous exercise in sales and negotiation!
Even though we had an extremely modest budget, we persevered and hosted our first conference on National Administrative Assistants Day in 2015. And despite the no-frills experience, what happened during the speakers’ sessions was amazing. We expected to hear professional advice on growing our careers, but they gave us so much more. And we knew we had created something special.
Petitioning and negotiating other business units for funds worked well enough and we landed bigger contributions each year — but we knew that securing our own designated programs budget would be a game-changer for our global admin team. So, in 2018, we worked hard to familiarize ourselves with the company’s formal budget proposal and approval process, meticulously prepared our presentation — and got funded!
Maxim Integrated Admin team members build their skills and get inspired at the annual Assistant Excellence Conference in 2018, hosted by Maxim’s Admin Leadership Team.
How do you cultivate your friendship outside of work?
Outside of the office, we like to participate in volunteer activities together when possible. A couple of our favorites are the ASPCA pet shelter in Milpitas, where we sterilize toys, fold blankets, and play with the kitties and puppies; and the Good Sam Cancer Center where we contributed to the blanket drive and assembled cancer-care kits.
How does your team embrace company culture?
We live the company values:
- Be Bold. We’ve asked for professional development programs and the budgets to fund them.
- One Maxim. We are global-centric; we have consistent communication with our non-HQ locations.
- Reach Higher. Our budget-funded programs provide in-house development training for assistants globally.
- Be the Difference. Our team speaks up, asks for what it needs, and executes on ideas and “what ifs.”
Maxim Integrated’s Admin team members are serious Office Ninjas and not to be trifled with.
How has company growth impacted your team?
With company growth has come larger individual organizations, which each assistant must support. Hence, there are more eyes on the assistant team. Each of us faces a larger group audience, which has challenged us to step up our game.
How does your team prepare for growth?
Maxim assistants have access to company-funded development programs, as well as budget and project management training. Our budget process requires us to look to the future and consider factors that will impact our internal and external spending.
Our buddy onboarding process for new assistants ensures new colleagues come up to speed fast on programs, procedures, and policies so they can quickly support their manager and organization through the ever-present changing times.
What inspires a healthy relationship between an executive and an admin?
Every manager-assistant relationship is different but, in all relationships, communication is key:
- Schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your manager
- Campaign for a seat at the table
- Communicate on a business level. In other words, be ready to suggest solutions to problems and provide data to support your ideas and plans
We also have our assistants complete a personality style assessment with their managers so that they have a better understanding of how to communicate most effectively with each other.
How do you encourage more executives to utilize their EAs as strategic partners?
We create opportunities for executives and managers to learn more about the future of the EA role. For example, in our upcoming Assistant Excellence Conference (AEC), one of our assistants will be speaking on the advantages of building strategic partnerships. The audience will be filled with VPs and above. Some managers will be hearing about this topic for the first time.
And in our Star Achievement program, we design interactive activities for managers and assistants to do together. These activities illustrate to the assistant and the manager the myriad possibilities for increasing productivity in an expanded EA role.
Office Ninjas often have tips and tricks of the trade. Any you care to share?
Make it a priority to provide leadership and teamwork training, think globally — and when in doubt, go to the experts!
We tap the talents of our worldwide assistants when launching programs to get differing perspectives. We look to our Learning and Development organization for advice on development initiatives and leadership coaching. And when we wanted to start funding our Assistant Excellence Conference with our own budget rather than petition for funds from other groups, we reached out to CHRO Laura Owens, who assigned a finance business partner to educate and guide us through Maxim’s formal budget process and approval, helping us land our 80K budget.
Learning is a long-term relationship and a crucial part of our team’s success.
When a passionate call for administrative upskilling is met with executive approval and an $80K budget, you know you’re dealing with an All-Star team! Thanks, Team Maxim Integrated, for showing us what collaboration looks like in action.
We commissioned an artist to hand letter and digitize a powerful mantra from today’s All-Star interview.