Managing day-to-day operations, staffing the phones, handling emails, preparing documents and presentations, scheduling, managing calendars, screening, ordering, networking, communicating, supporting. If this sounds like a lot, it is. It is what the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory administrative assistants do daily. They are, in a word, indispensable. In recognition of their work and in their honor on Administrative Professionals Day on April 26, ORNL Communications talked with some of them, and here are their stories, just a small representative sample of the people who help keep ORNL running.
Laura Bailie has one major goal, and she makes sure everyone in her groups knows it.
“I tell them I want to take whatever workload I can so you can focus on the science,” Bailie said. “I can’t do the science, so I want to give them the time so they can focus on their science. I’ll do everything else. That’s why I’m here.”
Laura has been the administrative assistant for the Mechanical Properties and Mechanics and the Nuclear Energy Materials Microanalysis groups for about a year, when she started at ORNL. She has administrative experience as a medical transcriptionist, and was lead secretary at an elementary school for five years, prior to joining ORNL.
After working in Utah where her former husband was in school, they moved to Tennessee. A high school graduate, it was through her volunteerism at her church where she really honed her skills.
My basis, my foundation, was honestly through church, what I did through my volunteerism. Being organized, doing things efficiently, looking out for other people, that was always my father’s biggest thing, and that’s basically what I do in my job.
Skills necessary to succeed are multitasking and organizing, she said. “You’ve got to be able to handle multiple things at once or there is no way you can do this,” Laura says.
But also, the self-described “people person” says there is a big social aspect, too, to being successful. “You’ve got to know how to talk to people and how to network,” she said.
The mother of three spends a lot of her free time with her children, and loves hiking to waterfalls, kayaking and paddle-boarding. Originally from Hawaii – her family is from the Philippines and her father is in the military – she never learned to surf.
For now, she is very happy in her career. “One of my favorite things are the people. Everyone is so kind and nice, and willing to help you if you need it. The people I support are amazing; I couldn’t ask for a better team!” — Lawrence Bernard
UT-Battelle manages ORNL for DOE’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. DOE’s Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit https://energy.gov/science.