One thing that sets Naomia Sims apart from other people is how happy she seems to be doing work that is not about her, or even primarily about her personal interests. The nature of her work as an administrative assistant is that her presence be minimal, because if she’s doing her job right—which she does—production can continue invisibly, the company she supports tilted around the usual axis, and her supervisors can launch their projects into orbit.
Naomia is a marvel. It’s the reason she’s won accolades for her work throughout her twenty years with Bank of America. This month she’s earned one more: she’s been nominated for ezCater’s 2018 Office Hero of the Year Award in celebration of admins everywhere this Administrative Professionals Day.
Naomia works for the Global Human Resources department at Bank of America. She serves three executives and occasionally gets pulled in by other people on her floor, and people from the other floors who reach out to her. Naomia laughed at her popularity there. She’s been with the company for twenty years and care is in her vernacular.
The New York Times reports that these days executive assistants, secretaries, and administrative “assistants are expected to perform as managers.” These professionals are regularly entangled with a whole range of work such as planning meetings, managing calendars, sorting emails and routing calls, a type of work that requires setting priorities and making decisions. The idea that one person can do it all, with no need of help, is not unreasonable, but does make colossal demands.
ezCater chatted with Naomia one morning about her office-hero nomination and her job. She has a warm personality and her style is inclusive and conversational.
Will you tell our ezCater readers: What’s the most difficult part of your job? Surely even office heroes must have tough days.
Calendar management, keeping up with the calendars. Because between the three executives I support they probably get about 20 meeting requests a day. You have to stay focused.
As an office hero you must have some time-saving tricks. What’s your favorite? Is there a tool or device that you as an office hero can’t live without?
If I have about 10 or 15 tasks each day, I have the projects on my desk and figure out what needs to be done immediately. I prioritize my work by how important the task is. It’s a matter of staying focused. Sometimes I will put myself in the shoes of the people I’m supporting and look at what’s most important when I’m managing their calendars. Some meetings I’m not aware of the importance of them and if I’m not aware I’ll reach out to my manager and say, “Hey, you’ve got a schedule conflict here. You have three meetings at 3 o’clock. Which one should you attend, which meeting should I decline?” I don’t make the executive decisions for that because the people I support know more about which meetings they need to attend than I do. But they let me know what’s important a lot of times.
Do you have tips for decompressing at home after a long day at the office? I think a lot of ezCater readers would love to hear about this.
When I leave here, I leave my work here. I don’t think about. Sometimes when I lie down at night and something is hanging over my head, I might think about work just to make sure that when I go in the next morning I’m going to go in and take care of this or that. Mentally, I’ll think about it before I got to bed. Most of the time when I leave for work I already know what’s ahead of me the next day. And I don’t leave work undone. If I have something that’s pending that can wait the next day, I make sure it’s on the top of my agenda. I take notes on the most critical things that have to be done. I usually will not leave work until something critical is completed. But when the work day ends, I try my best to not think about work and think about more personal things.
Will you tell our ezCater readers what’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
To work your job, do not let it work you. Meaning you take care of the task, do the best that you can, and do not let it overwhelm or overcome you, and just take one task at a time, take care of it. My father was a hard worker all of his life and he taught us always to work hard and do the best job you can, and he always did a good job in everything he did. It was just something that was taught to us.
I like the variety of my work, and so I’m just going from one task to the other and nothing is overwhelming. I won’t let it become overwhelming. I will handle it the best way that I can and try to keep a positive attitude because I’m happy, I’m healthy enough to work, because I know people who can’t for various health reasons, and I’m thankful to be able to get up in the morning and do the work that I do. I’m grateful for working with Bank of America as well because I’ve been here for twenty years and I’ve worked with some great people and my manager is great and very understanding, so I’m thankful for that.
You’re our office hero, but maybe you can tell our ezCater readers who’s your hero?
Oprah and Barack Obama.
Do you think Naomia should win ezCater’s 2018 Office Hero of the Year Award? Make sure you vote for her here. The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 26, 2018.