From the Top

MPTC Executive Assistant Lea Nebre Redefines the Value of an Empowered Secretary

by Junne Grajales

MPTC president and CEO Rod Franco’s executive assistant of more than 18 years, Lea Nebre (LSN), recently held “Heroes without Capes,” a two-part online learning session for secretaries, aimed to better understand the needs of today’s executives by learning how to prioritize, become more effective, and how to effectively deal with conflict.

Lea Nebre (LSN), MPTC president and CEO Rod Franco’s executive assistant, holds a two-part online learning session for secretaries to develop communication abilities at all levels and improve core skills that are needed to meet today’s standards.

A learning session for secretaries has long been in the pipeline for LSN. She believes the lessons learned from her over 32-year career as an executive assistant, allow her to offer insights that resonate with the more than 50 attendees who are experiencing their own set of challenges.

Here are some of the lessons imparted in the learning session:

The Role of an Executive Assistant and Secretary

An executive assistant and secretary are often expected to manage routine duties such as calendar management, travel arrangement, and meeting execution. Lately, and with the caliber of LSN, executive assistants and secretaries have grown to be the pillars of strength of our officers. “Executive Assistants and secretaries are the glue that binds all the pages together,” LSN declared. “They serve as the company’s lifeline, the unsung makers of order, and the true heroes who command an army and run the show.”

The two-part learning session for secretaries highlights the necessary skills one should acquire in 2021, as well as the refinement of project, corporate travel, and stress management.

Why Inspiration Matters

As a source of motivation, LSN shared that MPTC chairman Manny Pangilinan’s (MVP) first job was as an executive assistant to the president of the Philippine Investment Management Consultants, Inc. (PHINMA), where he served for six years. MVP’s inspiring story is a nod to the possibility of a likewise highly successful future.

Top Seven Skills Needed for the Future

The world of work is evolving rapidly, and we constantly need to keep up and stay on top of industry trends. With this perspective in mind, LSN underlined skills that one must learn to thrive in 2021:

  1. The key to intuiting another’s feelings is in the ability to read nonverbal channels, tone of voice, and facial expressions. It is the most powerful form of listening, conveying empathy, and hearing the feelings behind what is being said.
  2. Being diplomatic is a key to success in the business or any negotiation. It enables healthier management of work relationships via a “win-win method.”
  3. Communication goes hand in hand with discretion, loyalty, and reliability. It involves the capability to listen, understand, and respond clearly while managing emotions.
  4. Conferences bring like-minded people together, that share the same desire to build on careers and who understand the power of networking. An expansive list of contacts encourages a trade of opinions to support long-term relations and shared trust. 
  5. Having access and familiarity with the latest company management tools is a must. With today’s ever-changing world, and several processes quickly shifting to automation, being highly computer literate signifies progress and innovation.
  6. Understand the importance of taking the initiative, properly going above and beyond while collaborating with a team, and not waiting around to be told what to do.
  7. Behavior is the main factor in creating a healthy environment. A wise approach is to be able to look over differences and develop long-term beneficial relationships with the team.

LSN recommends books that every executive assistant and secretary should read such as “The Elevated EA: Find Your Voice & Own Your Future as an Executive Assistant” by Maggie Jacobs, “The CEO’s Secret Weapon: How Great Leaders and Their Assistants Maximize Productivity and Effectiveness” by Jan Jones, and “Don’t Reply All: 18 Email Tactics That Help You Write Better Emails and Improve Communication with Your Team” by Hassan Osman

Practical Tips

LSN also imparted the following practical tips:

  • The assistant is all-knowing. She/he acts as the eyes and the ears for the boss.
  • He/she should be able to read the boss’s mind and pre-empt his/her every move. Assistants are also the gatekeepers and chief secret-keepers.
  • “Point out my mistakes to me, not to others, because my mistakes are to be corrected by me, not others.”
  • “Those who gossip with you will gossip about you.”

LSN with MPTC president and CEO Rod Franco, her boss of more than 18 years whom she fondly describes as a good boss–quiet, observant, and considerate—and is the primary reason why she stayed with the company for more than two decades.

The Power and Importance of Attitude

Using correct grammar does not define your intelligence; school grades do not define your knowledge. “It’s the attitude that truly defines who you are,” she emphasized.

LSN chooses to remain positive and lives by the adage: “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your attitude about the problem.” Having the right attitude is a big factor in the changes. “Continue to adapt to the environment,” she underscored.  “Otherwise, you will be left behind.”

A Legacy-Leaving Mindset

In celebration of her 20th year of service to the company last 2019, she shared this advice: “Use every opportunity to do work to the best of your ability. Always go the extra mile.” She continued, “We are not only mere secretaries but also our bosses’ business partners. We are equally important. Bear in mind that behind the boss’s success is an empowered secretary.”

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