In recent years, the secretarial responsibilities have undergone a vast change. Due to this reason, many people are opting for a career as a secretary. If you are one of them, it is important for you to know the major responsibilities that a secretary has to handle.
Earlier, the role of the secretaries was limited to taking notes from their bosses, typing, etc. However, with the advent of technology in companies and offices, these duties have extended to things that were meant for the managerial staff. Nowadays, employers prefer candidates who at least have a college degree. One can also enroll for specialization courses that train people to carry out their duties effectively. Though the role of a secretary differs according to the company, the basic secretarial profile is generally the same in every organization.
Basic Secretary – Duties and Responsibilities
A secretary will have to take notes and dictation from the boss for drafting the correspondence or executing the work. She can either record the dictation and transcribe it later or write it down.
She will have to keep a record of appointments and ensure that each one is conducted smoothly and on time. Follow up for attendance, venue booking, arranging notepads, pencils, water bottles, glasses, etc. are also the duties of a secretary.
Many times, she will have to conduct research for the reporting authority and carry out oral and written communication with staff members as well as clients on the behalf of her boss or department.
Handling difficult situations without any assistance is one of the prime duties of a secretary. A secretary might face managerial or administration problems; she has to sort them out on her own without the interference of the senior management.
Arranging Travel and Accommodation
One of the prime duties of a secretary is to arrange for the travel and boarding requirements of the boss or staff. This needs to be done flawlessly and meticulously especially when foreign travel and hotel bookings are involved. A minute-to-minute itinerary should be prepared for the convenience of the travelers.
Organizing Office Activities and Events
Organizing fun employee engagement activities and events for the department is not a secretary’s core activity, but it can definitely help in honing her leadership prowess.
It is the duty of the secretary to maintain the archives of documents and paperwork regarding foreign delegation visits, customer visits, inaugurations, new product launches, activities, events, etc.
A secretary has to ensure timely and accurate delivery, and pick up of important office material. Items to be couriered should be sent on time, tracked and followed up for efficient delivery.
A secretary answers the calls for her boss. She also screens the list of callers and relays the messages to the boss or leaves messages at his desk on the ‘While you were out cards’.
A secretary also undertakes the responsibility of maintaining guest relations. She welcomes the visitors and makes them comfortable by offering refreshments. She might also require to book dinner reservations or accommodation for the guests.
Manage Memberships and Subscriptions
It is the duty of the secretary to manage and renew memberships to various business forums, institutes, societies, etc. She will also have to renew the subscriptions of various publications that the reporting authority has subscribed to.
Keeps a tab on the available stock of office supplies, stationery, office equipment, etc. and makes arrangement for placing a new order.
In a small organization, a secretary might also have to undertake payroll related activities.
Maintaining a Diary
A secretary has to maintain a diary to follow the time-bound schedule of her boss and enlist his appointments accordingly. At the end of each day, she has to inform the boss about the next day’s schedule.
A secretary will have to act as a liaison between the department and her boss. She will have to give an accurate report of the departmental activities to the boss.
She may also have to help in the compilation of the MIS report, giving details of the efficiency of the department.
A secretary will have to write, edit and disseminate information through presentations, spreadsheets, letters, mails, minutes of the meetings, memos, itineraries, etc.
A secretary has to schedule, organize meetings and maintain a record of the agenda, minutes and maintain a follow-up of the tasks.
Assist in Small Financial Decisions
Sometimes, she will also have to assist in the compilation of the financial reports, budgets, plans, etc. of the department.
Routine Administration Work
The secretary has to carry out general office administration duties from time to time.
Many times, special projects like 5S or small CSR activities will be allotted to the secretary. She will have to coordinate with the rest of the staff to make the project a grand success.
A secretary has to sort all the correspondence, prioritize and label it for the boss.
Qualities and Skill Sets
~ Sound work ethics
~ Maintains good correspondence
~ Basic knowledge of computer
~ Business communication
~ Pleasant disposition
~ Presentable personality
~ Multitasking abilities
~ Organizing and Planning skills
~ Interpersonal skills
Though both are two diverse fields, people often get confused between a secretary and a corporate secretary. A secretary is an office administration position while a corporate secretary is a senior managerial position. A corporate secretary ensures that the company meets the statutory and regulatory compliance. She also keeps the board members informed about their legal responsibilities and obligations. You can become a corporate secretary by getting a certificate or an Associate degree in the subject. A course or degree in law will be an added advantage.
Corporate Secretary – Duties and Responsibilities
Arranging Meetings One of the key responsibilities of a corporate secretary is to organize and schedule meetings according to the State Corporate Laws. This includes board and committee meetings, annual meeting of shareholders, etc.
A corporate secretary has to inform the board of directors and shareholders about meetings and their agenda. He/She has to make a detailed note of the proceedings of the entire meeting, including documenting the activity and the matters discussed during the meetings by writing down the minutes and maintaining a meeting attendance log. Once the meeting is over, she has to file the records properly and convey the decisions of the meeting to the other employees.
Advice the Board Members
A corporate secretary should advice the board members and ensure that they have the right guidance and resources for carrying out their duties towards the shareholders as per the State Law.
A corporate secretary has to act as a point of contact between the company and all the securities markets, where the shares of the organization are listed. She has to check the mandatory requirements of various markets and cater to them accordingly.
A corporate secretary has to maintain accurate and up-to-date records for the various functions, decisions and actions of the company.
She also maintains shareholder relations by responding to their inquiries and escalating their communication to the directors.
A corporate secretary acts as a corporate liaison for transfer and replacement of stock certificates. She maintains a record and documentation of the stock certificates. She is also answerable to the shareholders if they have any doubts regarding the same.
A corporate secretary provides advice on issues related to corporate governance. In some organizations, the corporate secretary who carries out this specialist role, is also called Corporate Governance Officer. She is also in charge of the company’s corporate governance guidelines, policies and principles.
A corporate secretary has to communicate with the shareholders from time to time. She has to prepare, publish and send the annual reports, circulars, notices and notifications about meetings to the shareholders. She has to publicize the matters that require essential disclosures.
Election of Directors
When the company appoints a new director, it is not only the responsibility of the corporate secretary to guide him, but also to organize special training programs for him. She may also look into the governance procedure for re-election of the directors.
Code of Corporate Conduct and Policies
The secretary will have to administer the code of corporate conduct, frame different policies, prepare policy guideline manuals and ensure that compliance is being met.
A secretary has to ensure that the statutory and regulatory requirements are met. She is also instrumental in filing the mandatory reports, documents and statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A corporate secretary has to look after the compliance of the federal and state governance laws, corporate and securities laws, and other legal compliance of the company.
A corporate secretary has to ensure that the management is following the statutory requirements for activities like issuing shares, governance of the subsidiary companies, dividend declaration, acquisition, merger, signing of MOU, capital expenditure or disposition of a capital asset.
Qualities and Skill Sets
~ Organization and planning skills
~ Corporate knowledge
~ Legal and regulatory knowledge
~ Expert in business operations
~ Business communication
~ Troubleshooting skills
~ Interpersonal skills
~ Accounting skills
Though diverse, both the jobs require a highly responsible and skilled taskmaster. Even a small lapse in the duties of a secretary can affect the work, schedule and planning of her boss which may also result in a financial loss. On the other hand, failure or ignorance on the part of a corporate secretary can lead to serious legal implications for the company. Aristotle has rightly said, “Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work.” Hence, whichever job you choose, do not forget to enjoy your work to the fullest.