Most everyone has met someone throughout life they admire. One of the individuals I admire is a career-minded administrative professional, who has made a difference in so many different ways. Meet Karlena Rannals, CAP-OM.
I recently had the opportunity to connect with Karlena and asked her a few questions about her career and IAAP.
Tell us about your career as an administrative professional. Like many in our profession, working in an office environment was not something that I set out to do. I started out (very young) working the back office at a bank. I then went to Japan on an accompanied tour with my spouse and ended up working as a secretary. I was the only American in the office as all others were Japanese nationals. The Major that I worked for gave me a lot of latitude to make the job meaningful. When I returned to the U.S., I moved to California. I went to a temporary agency and landed the assignment at the Rancho Santa Fe Fire Protection District. That was 33 years ago.
What do you most enjoy about your career? Considering most of my career has been with one employer, I love the variety of duties. I started as the only admin in the office and did everything: phone, customer service, correspondence, filing, payroll, accounting, etc. Today, the office has grown to four admins, and I supervise many of the tasks that I used to do, but my role has expanded to include budget preparation, investments, workers’ compensation, benefits administration, Clerk of the Board of Directors, and the list goes on. I can honestly say there are no two days alike.
Tell us about your involvement in the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP). I saw a piece come across my desk in 1991 advertising a luncheon celebrating Administrative Professionals Day. I decided that I needed to expand my network outside the fire service. I attended the luncheon and was impressed with the event, speaker, etc., and was invited to attend a local chapter meeting. I was a perpetual guest for about 18 months. I knew that if I was not a member, the leadership could not ask me to do anything. Within six months of joining, I was asked to fill the unexpired term of Treasurer. I served at all levels of chapter leadership. I then decided to get involved at the Division level serving as Division President in 2005-06. While serving as Division President, I decided to submit my name as a candidate representing Southwest District. I was successful in that endeavor and continued to serve at the international level ultimately serving as International President in 2012-2013. As a point of interest, I gained a best friend from my chapter involvement. I would never have met Angie had it not been for me joining the chapter.
What is the value of being a member of IAAP? The IAAP core purpose is the opportunity to learn, lead, connect, and excel. The value of being a member is that if you take advantage of all tenants available, you will grow both personally and professionally in a very safe environment. The opportunities that I have had by being an active member of the Association would never have happened staying only within the fire service network. Whether you pay your dues yourself or you have employer support, the investment of less than $20 a month has a better rate of return if you are active and take advantage of all of the educational opportunities that are available.
You are currently serving as the Conference Chair for the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP) California Division’s Model Branch Event taking place in Costa Mesa on May 15-16, 2015. How exciting! What can you share about this educational program? The committee is excited to highlight not only the Division but our educational event also models the new structure of IAAP. We have four dynamic speakers that after a full day of networking and education, attendees will have earned six recertification points. Our content focuses on social media, leadership, and a session on tips and tricks for the Microsoft Suite featuring Excel, Word, and PowerPoint. The cost at $299 is affordable as compared to our many competitors. Register today!
Why do you choose to take on “extra work” by volunteering for leadership positions within IAAP? I believe in this Association, and I believe in my Division. With all of the organizational changes within the Association, I wanted the Division to have the opportunity to model the new structure. California Division has been a leader in the Association and has consistently produced quality educational events. I wanted to see the Division end with one of the best events.