By Stefanie Sinn & Nancy Heltman
It’s not often you join a company and feel like you have found a place you can call home for the next 10 or 20 years, but that’s how coming to work at Major, Lindsey & Africa (MLA) and Allegis Partners (AP) has felt for many. That’s not to say that everyone who comes here has the intention of cultivating a lifelong career as an administrative professional—some do, some don’t—but for those who find themselves investing in the organization, they discover opportunities to grow and develop and build a true career. That is exactly what Michael Schultz, Associate Director in New York, did nearly 14 years ago when he arrived at MLA as an administrative professional.
Michael Schultz’s Story
“When I started at MLA, the company was about one-third of the size it is today and the New York office only had about 22 people or so. I had a background of being an operations jack-of-all-trades for many small companies. I used to say things like ‘I'll be your right-hand man,’ and ‘I have my fingers in a lot of pies.’ (Maybe I still do!)
In those early days, it became apparent to me that many processes were, well, haphazard and lacked uniformity. I've always been a person who loves order, so, before I knew it, I was charged with revising our law firm profiles (a task that actually took years to complete) and improving the harvesting and distribution of various research materials and recruiting metrics. I also really love it when database records are meticulously maintained, easy to follow and uniform, so I was asked to create process tools and help train both admins and recruiters, first in New York, then in other offices and eventually at our annual meetings. I soon became known on the law firm side of the business firm-wide as the go-to guy.
People around the company knew me, and I was happy to assist wherever I could. That's the other thing —I get a kick out of serving people—and that's a good thing for an admin. I look around and am able to see what needs to be done, and if I can, I do it. That's not always an easy position to take. Big things and small things and ‘it's not my job’ things—it all needs to be done, so, well, let's go! My fingers were in all the pies. I'd been given a lot of opportunity, and I was pretty fulfilled. MLA is good at that; if you want to grow, they'll help you grow.
I didn't do all this to climb the corporate ladder and get title X. My trajectory developed organically over many years and lots of trial-and-error. Today, our admin leadership has worked very hard to build a clearly-defined career track for admins, as well as a suite of tools that admins can use to understand the importance of personal growth/development and manage their own career journey—and that's what it really is, a journey.”
The MLA and AP Admin Career Road Map
MLA and AP’s administrative career path offers many possibilities to grow in different ways depending on what you are seeking. Most administrators join the organization as either an administrative assistant or administrator, which means scheduling appointments and interviews, performing research, assisting with meeting materials and much more. From there, administrators can grow into senior roles, such as Senior Administrator and Associate Director. Some administrative professionals have grown into a career path on MLA’s and AP’s research team. This role is ideal for someone who takes pride in working behind the scenes to bring success to others and themselves.
Kenya Boddie, Administrator in San Francisco and one of MLA’s newer administrative professionals, writes, “I became excited about the possibility of working at MLA the moment my recruiter showed me the job description. Mainly because I honestly felt that the combination of my skill set, prior experience and knowledge perfectly matched what MLA was looking for. But the further I advanced into the interview process, the more I knew that MLA was where I wanted to be. The company background, its values and its dedication to diversity in the workplace definitely made an impact on me. Lastly, and I think most importantly, it was the people. The recruiters and the admin team were so nice and welcoming; it made me want to be a part of their team. I don’t think I’ve ever met such amazing people; they definitely set the bar high!”
A Global Reach
Those administrative professionals who are most successful at Major, Lindsey & Africa and Allegis Partners are the ones who care about the success of the organization and the people in it. When you can look beyond your local office and envision the company as a whole and how what you do affects someone in another office, its career changing. As Yoon Jae Lee, Administrator in Boston, explains, “Joining Major, Lindsey & Africa meant taking on bigger responsibilities on a global level. During the interview process, I was intrigued by the company’s idea of being able to collaborate with other offices and striving to stay borderless between one another. This has stayed true throughout my employment at MLA, being trained by admins from various offices and having been involved in searches in Amsterdam while also collaborating with the administrative team in London.”
A Cultural Phenomenon
The key to turning a job into a career is acclimating to the culture of the organization—and feeling that “click.” “I continue to work for MLA because of the culture of the company as a whole. The administrative staff is viewed as an integral part of the corporate team with an emphasis on continuing professional and personal development,” explains Catherine Pyle, Office Administrative Manager in Houston. “Every colleague, regardless of professional status, benefits and flourishes with unwavering support and encouragement in all aspects. This career path allows me the opportunity to be a part of such an interwoven professional dynamic.”
Major, Lindsey & Africa and Allegis Partners promotes a collegiate atmosphere, where everyone is seen as a member of the team and treated as a professional. “In all honesty, I accepted the position with MLA because I was in need of a job. However, during my time here, I have become extremely grateful that I did,” Kimberly Ferrell, Administrator in Houston, admits. “This is a wonderful company to work for. This is a company that genuinely cares for its employees—which is refreshing. The kindness and understanding displayed toward me during a really tough period in my life is something I will never forget.”
“Major, Lindsey & Africa has been a place for me to continually develop my known skills and identify new areas of interest. There is a collegial community that encourages professional and career development with access to training and mentoring to complement self-directed goals,” shares Teresa Rockwell, Associate Director in Houston. “Flexibility is also a huge contributing factor as to why I choose to stay – flexible environment that enhances work/life balance and the flexibility to progress through multiple roles with increasing levels of challenge and responsibility.”
Qualities for Success
But what does it take for a person to excel here, to gain those “increasing levels of challenge and responsibility” mentioned above? Simple: Hard work, passion and drive.
Administrators are the support system for the entire organization—the backbone of the operations. They need to be able to pay attention to the small details and enjoy teamwork. A day does not go by without the opportunity to think outside the box and come up with new ideas in support of the recruiters, the candidates and the company.
Joining the Fold
If you are someone who seeks a career that’s going to make you successful and happy, desires to do more than just clocking 9-5 and want to be part of something bigger, MLA and AP want you!
“It just felt right; it felt like a ‘breath of fresh air.’ I was so used to working in the administrative field and feeling overlooked and overworked. MLA has definitely changed my perspective about being an admin. I am looking forward to the opportunity to grow and develop my own career path within the company,” Endredi Jones, Administrative Floater in Houston, says.
Michael Schultz sums it up well, “If you are an admin who wants to make a larger contribution, who understands the importance of team synergy, who finds fulfillment in horizontal as well as vertical growth, and who wants a ‘place at the table,’ then you will find a lot of opportunity at MLA.”
Could you be the next professional administrator to grow your career with MLA and AP? Explore potential and exciting careers at Major, Lindsey & Africa by clicking here.
Nancy Heltman is an associate director based in Charlotte. She joined Major, Lindsey & Africa in 2009 as an administrator and has worked her way up the ranks, supporting recruiters up and down the East Coast.
Stefanie Sinn is an internal recruiter for Major, Lindsey & Africa and Allegis Partners. She oversees the internal recruiting process globally for our administrative staff and Solutions Practice Group and assist in recruiting executive search talent specifically for Allegis Partners.