Editor’s Note: We're searching for the best and brightest admin professionals and workplace operators in the US. Know an outstanding Ninja? Nominations for the 2020 All-Star Awards are now open!
We’re thrilled to finally introduce you to our first featured OfficeNinjas All-Star, Jackie Powell!
Jackie comes to us from West Des Moines, Iowa where she works as an Administrative Assistant for a team of 21 at UnitedHealthcare. She received multiple nominations from her colleagues, all of whom spoke to her welcoming personality, vast institutional knowledge, and willingness to always go above and beyond the call of duty.
One colleague summed it up:
There’s not a question you can ask Jackie to which she doesn’t know the answer. You know how a lot of job descriptions have a mention of “Other duties as assigned?” Being willing and able to do those other randomly assigned duties is why Jackie is an office ninja. She not only does her regular job, but she leads our office community action council, which means she figures out a charity each month and helps coordinate our office involvement with that charity. She also leads our emergency preparedness committee…Our office would not function without her.
Inquiring minds want to know: How is Jackie so amazing? We decided to go right to the source with a fun Q&A.
Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
ON: How long have you been an office ninja?
JP: I will be celebrating 10 years as an Administrative Assistant on April 25th.
ON: What’s your favorite part of being an office ninja?
JP: I love having all the answers. Ha! In all honesty, I enjoy being the go-to person, having my hands in everything, and providing the best service I can. Maybe that’s why some people call me ‘Radar’ (that’s a M*A*S*H reference if you didn’t catch it). I am a people person, a listener, a helper, and a giver. If at the end of the day I can say I was one of those to one person, then I’ve accomplished something.
ON: Tell us about the craziest day you ever experienced as an office ninja.
JP: Oh goodness, that is a tough one. It’s a toss-up between moving the office across town (twice), the flood, or a power outage. In this case, I’ll choose the flood. I may as well have walked into a crime scene that day. Everyone had their own “witness statement” they were more than eager to share. The water started in the break room then progressed through the ladies bathroom, the hallway, and into the receptionist area. It was a mess. Luckily, it was only about three inches of water. It was an inconvenience for a little while, but we all got through it.
Events like this one really challenge your ability to handle the situation while repeatedly answering the same questions, providing updates to leadership, and keeping tabs on all the moving parts of the clean-up. It’s days like this that I thrive.
ON: How do your team members help you succeed?
JP: I’ve been learning new systems and taking on additional job tasks in order to relieve some of the workload within my department. Throughout the process everyone has been very supportive and helpful. Essentially, we’ve switched shoes. They are answering the same questions over and over, sending me encouraging notes, and motivating me to keep powering through. They remind me that I am not working alone and how much they appreciate the work I do.
ON: Where does your drive come from? What keeps you motivated?
JP: My family.
When I was young, I remember my mom telling stories about her job (she was a trainer in a call center). She talked about the complaints and ill-mannered, downright outrageous things customers would say on the phone. It taught me how never to treat a person, even if you are unhappy with the service you receive. It also taught me to listen to people, because a lot of the time that’s what they really want. They’re looking for someone to listen and assure them that someone else cares about their situation.
Also, my husband. He checks in with me throughout the day and listens patiently in the evenings while I recount EVERYTHING. (LOL – I’m a little bit of a storyteller.) He truly cares about me and what happens throughout my day. When a person knows they are loved and cared for, they tend to take care of others. Kinda like paying it forward.
ON: What’s your favorite afternoon pick-me-up?
JP: There is this website full of juicy gossip and world news. I like to take a break from the “office focus” and enter someone else’s world for a few minutes. I usually pick articles about my favorite celebrities, the Royal Family (yes, I’m one of them), or any other headlines that grab me.
ON: What is your greatest professional achievement? What are you most proud of outside of work?
JP: Well, I hate to think of myself as a “One Hit Wonder,” so I tend to look at several achievements as great. One such achievement was landing the job that set off my career as an admin. I had no experience as an assistant and was pretty much fresh out of high school. My first day on the job, I showed up to find all my computer equipment still in the boxes at my desk. My boss pretty much told me “good luck” and left me to figure it out.
I had learned how to use software applications in school, but no one ever taught me how to set everything up (this was before the panels and cords were color coded). It was my first “sink or swim” opportunity to prove to myself and to my boss that I could face this challenge head on and succeed. Now I could practically do it blindfolded.
Outside the office, I am proud to say I am the same person no matter where I am. What you see is what you get. I enjoy bestowing my knowledge on others in order to help them succeed, whether it’s at work, at home, at church, or with my friends. If I can help in any way, I will.
ON: Any exciting project you’re currently working on?
JP: Being an OfficeNinjas All-Star! That is certainly exciting! I just hope to represent the office ninja community the best I can to make them all proud to be office ninjas.
ON:What are the top 3 traits of an OfficeNinjas All-Star?
JP: 1. Going above and beyond every chance you get. 2. If something needs to be done, just do it. Because, c’mon, if you don’t do it who will? (And if no one does it, it’ll drive you nuts and haunt your dreams. LOL) 3. It’s all about psychology! Listen, watch and learn from people.
ON: What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
JP: “It’s not about them. It’s about you.” In essence, I should be working for me. Having a job, in the end, is about personal goals: financial, fun, long-term, short-term, etc. It is about being able to look back and say “I learned something. I did what was right. I can move forward.”
Every New Year about 45% of people make a resolution, but only 8% succeed in completing that resolution. If you aren’t doing it for yourself, then you are less likely to find satisfaction and complete what you started. It’s not about being selfish. It’s about determining your priorities, finding what makes you happy, and then putting your heart into it.
ON: Office ninjas often have tips and tricks of the trade. Any you care to share?
JP: Learn everything you can about the business, office, equipment, and people. You are not alone. You are amongst allies. It won’t burn a hole in your desk if you leave it for the next day. Find an admin who has been around for a while and let them become your mentor, resource, and friend.
Any office ninja would be lucky to have you as a friend, Jackie!
Please join us in congratulating Jackie by leaving a comment below!
As part of her award, she’ll be receiving a year of tasty snacks from today’s featured sponsor, Love With Food.
You too could score some tasty treats from Love With Food! Head on over to today’s Flash Raffle and enter by 11:59 PM PST for a chance to win!
Today’s All-Star is presented by:
Office Snacking that Does Good. Discover new healthy snacks monthly & you’ll be helping fight childhood hunger in America.
Photos beautifully captured by Pretty Instant.