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Getting technical pays off for admin

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in Admins,Office Management

Carol Downing joined SurfTech as office manager in 2014 and has been learning about industrial coatings ever since. The surface technology company coats metal, plastics, glass and ceramics using a variety of technologies and products for different applications. “I’ve had to learn all the different facets [of the business]—powder coatings, paints and so on.”

Here are her success tips for thriving as an admin in an industrial company.

•  Keep learning. Part of her job involves HR duties, so Downing says it’s important that she stay up to date on laws and regulations. She relies on webinars, as well as independent research. “On the HR side, you need to know your laws and responsibilities, and what you can and can’t do,” she says.

In addition, she reads up on the science behind the product. “You need to know what your company actually does,” she says. “Having more of a chemistry background would have been huge for me. I’ve had to learn it, and it’s not something you can just rattle off.” She says she relies on her operations manager to help. “I’d be lost without him.”

•  Connect with all departments. After checking customer emails in the morning, Downing checks in with the techs and talks to the shop foreman. “We have a low-key check-in to keep communications open,” she says. “I ask him if there’s anything they might need from me so I can schedule it, and I can tell them what I have from my emails and let them know what needs to get out for the day.”

•  Support the customer. Downing says she invoices customers, pays bills and manages accounts receivables, but the customer always comes first. “No matter where you are or what industry you’re in, the customer base is the same; no matter where I’ve worked, you take care of the customer,” she says. “Without them, you have nothing. I talk to customers daily, and if they need something, I make it happen.”

•   Stay flexible. Downing says she works with a great group of people, and she’s always willing to lend a hand on the floor when necessary. “I make sure other employees know we’re not afraid to help,” she says.

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