For This Administrative Professional, A Simple 'Thank You' Will Suffice

For This Administrative Professional, A Simple 'Thank You' Will Suffice

By Shelley SheltonUniversity Communications
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Pearl Byrne standing at conference table
Pearl Byrne standing at conference table

It's Administrative Professionals Day – have you said "thank you" to yours lately?

Pearl Byrne, administrative associate in the Office of the President, says that's all it really takes to keep her feeling good about her job.

As of Tuesday, it's been exactly 12 years and 3 months since she began working at the University of Arizona. She started as an administrative assistant in the Office of the General Counsel, where she stayed until her current position opened and she applied for it.

Peter Likins was still president at that time, and she says he told her that the thing that won her the job was when, during her interview, she not only talked about what she could do but also asked what he wanted from an administrative assistant. That was in 2005, and she's now serving her fourth UA president.

Byrne grew up in Honolulu and met her husband there.

She worked for about seven years at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where she served as secretary to the associate dean in language, linguistics and literature. Before that, she worked for two years in a law firm doing similar work.

When Byrne's husband retired, they moved to Arizona to be closer to two of her sisters who lived here.

"Age-wise, I wasn't quite ready to retire," she said.

She saw an advertisement for the position in the Office of the General Counsel and felt it would be a good fit for her skills and experience.

"I was very fortunate to be hired," she said. "I was just so thankful to be working for a state organization again."

The best part of her job, she says, is meeting and greeting all the people who have business with the president.

"They're all so varied and different," she said. "They have different personalities. Varied responsibilities. And I like to see how much passion they have for their work."

Nancy Stiller, director of the UA Ombuds Program, says Byrne is "wonderful."

"She has amazing interpersonal skills, and they come naturally to her," Stiller said. Part of Byrne's job is to direct calls to Stiller's office when the calls are about problems or conflicts.

Stiller said Byrne is one of the most professional people she has known and has a great capacity for defusing conflicts and anger.

"People have even remarked to me how helpful she is," Stiller said.

Also important: Byrne knows when a problem is urgent and when it's not urgent, Stiller said.

The key to her job and others like it, Byrne says, is multitasking – answering telephones, assisting callers in finding information, scheduling, making calls and setting appointments.

"We try to keep them (the administrators) … where they're supposed to be, on time," Byrne said.

While she admits it's nice to be acknowledged on Administrative Professionals Day, just being noticed on a regular basis makes her want to continue to do her best, she says.

On past Administrative Professionals Days, she's been treated to lunch and has received bouquets of flowers. This year, she'll be treated to lunch on Friday, which she says is a wonderful way to wrap up the week.

But all of that isn't necessary as long as she knows she's appreciated the rest of the time, she says.

"I'm a simple person, so I’m satisfied very easily," Byrne said. "I always say a simple 'thank you' works."

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