By Scott Kennedy and Lisa Cantonwine
Embassy Canberra hosted an office management specialist (OMS) workshop for Mission Australia staff, May 7. Participants from the embassy and the consulates in Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney gathered at the stately and historic chief of mission residence in Canberra for a full day of networking, planned speakers, and professional development opportunities.
The day commenced with a virtual guest speaker, OMS Coordinator Diana Jackson, giving an overview of the recent changes to the OMS career and plans for future career evolution. Senior mission leaders, led by Chargé d’Affaires Michael Goldman, then joined for a panel discussion on fostering inclusive and dynamic working relationships between principal officers and their OMS team members. Panel members agreed that OMS is an office’s force multiplier. They emphasized that, beyond the daily duties, a great OMS helps soothe tensions, reduce stress, and improve productive lines of communication and cooperation within a mission. Mission leaders also shared that many of them do not have an OMS until they reach the senior ranks, and they appreciate a forward-leaning OMS who “manages up” and helps them understand the range of duties an OMS can perform on their behalf as they transition into more senior roles.
OMS participants later moved into the library for the first of two small group discussions focusing on the OMS career and front office skills, best practices, and the importance of networking. During a break for lunch, Embassy Canberra’s locally employed staff and eligible family member office management assistant counterparts joined participants for a joint “One Team” working lunch. The workshop finished with a tour of the Australian Parliament House, led by the embassy’s political specialist. The tour was designed to enable OMS colleagues to see firsthand where many high-level meetings, bi-lats, and symposiums occur.
OMS participants left the workshop with a strong esprit de corps, feeling prepared to put new knowledge into improving the efficiency and productivity of their respective offices. The opportunity to network and share experiences and challenges also strengthened the working relationships between the administrative staff at the embassy and its constituent posts.
Scott Kennedy is the office management specialist to the acting deputy chief of mission. Lisa Cantonwine is the office management specialist to the chargé d’affaires in Embassy Canberra’s Executive Office.