Sofie, would you like to tell us a little about your relationship with IMA – International Management Assistants?
- I became a member in 2013 and have had a few different roles on the board of IMA in Sweden. Since the autumn 2020, I am Vice Chairman of IMA globally. We are five people from different countries in the Executive Committee and we collaborate with IMA's boards in around twenty countries to drive, develop and provide value to our approximately 1500 members. It is non-profit and involves some work, but it also provides training in leadership and is very educational.
Why is IMA important to Executive Assistants?
- IMA's mission is to "connect and engage peers within and across borders and empower our members to excel." That is our purpose and we do it by offering development, training and business networking through a series of activities, conferences, collaborations and initiatives. We also work to visualize and to be a voice for our profession. Everyone who gets involved in the association does so on a non-profit basis in addition to working as an Executive Assistant (or similar titles), which means that we are in the role. We are aware of what training we need, and we help shape the role to be attractive in the future. It's a network for Assistants, run by Assistants. A valuable EA is an EA with a large network of resources and access to continuous training.
This year's theme for the 48th International Annual Conference in Helsinki on September 30 is The Power of Storytelling. Why do you think it is important for EA's?
- In our profession, a lot is about internal communication and relationships, reaching out with messages, connecting with people. In the role of EA, you are an ambassador for your workplace, we contribute to sales and conduct negotiations. Storytelling is a skill that can be used for many things - for example to reach out on LinkedIn, or succeed in a job interview. Storytelling can also be about creating motivation and commitment in others. It's a very exciting topic that I look forward to learning more about.
Why are the IMA conferences important?
- We are not an association that works with organizing events, but we focus on professional development which takes place, among other things, in the form of conferences, with the aim of learning things that give value back to our companies. We determine the training themes based on what we need to be trained in internationally, and then develop a program with experts who train us in those areas. Everything is organized by EAs! We have been doing this since 1974 and our international conferences and training days change between countries, so it is an excellent opportunity to also see the world and create an international, unique and valuable network.
Is there a particular program item you are looking forward to?
- We have fantastic experts who will inspire us and teach us about how we can use storytelling in our profession. André Noel Chaker, Tuija Seipel, Christoffer Wahlberg, Lucy Brazier OBE and other experts are in the program. Among other things, Christoffer will teach us to use our own stories to help others understand what we do and why it is important.
Why is it so important to go to these types of meetings, together with others in the industry?
- It is so incredibly rewarding to talk to EAs from many different companies, industries and countries and discuss and pursue issues together. It is important to have different perspectives and diversity in your business network. IMA is a very positive network and you gain new insights, can benchmark and get to know many interesting companies that create opportunities. Then we have a lot of fun together too!