Case study

Office manager — Alan Reeves

Alan studied creative writing and marketing and now manages staff members in his role as an office manager at Click, a search marketing agency

How did you get your current job?

I had to send in my CV. I started off at the bottom rung in the office and worked my way up.

This has been important because I now know exactly what it's like to do the job that I'm managing. It gives you an insight into the skills that are needed to handle the most basic admin tasks to the complex challenges.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

The creative writing skills I gained from my degree have been really important because my job is all about communication.

I have my own workload, as well as monitoring and managing a team of staff, so I need to ensure that I'm clearly telling people what they need to do and what I want from them.

What do you do day-to-day?

I'm responsible for the management of the office and the work that the team do. This means that I need to set them suitable tasks and ensure that they are capable of doing those tasks.

I then need to monitor their progress and advise them. All of that is wrapped up in the personal development plan process where we appraise staff and see if there are any training needs that could help them.

What are your career ambitions?

My team is about to double in size and I'd like to see it progress even more. There will be a new learning process for me as I get to manage apprentices for the first time, but I'm looking forward to developing more staff members and getting them to gain more skills.

What do you enjoy most about the job?

Working in my job there are a lot of things going on all the time, which I really enjoy. It's really important to be organised and to keep an eye on the wider picture. It's a bit like juggling and making sure that you don't drop the ball.

I've learned that the best thing to do is to simplify the processes of your role and to make things as streamlined as possible, which reduces the complexity of what you need to get done.

What are the challenges?

I'm about to do some training in people-management skills. I really enjoy that part of the job, but it requires a fine balance.

You need a good relationship with the people you work with but an understanding that you have a different role because you're responsible for the wider office.

What advice would you give others who are interested in this career?

Working in an office is a very different environment to university, which requires different behaviours. There's a lot of expectation for you to manage your own work and results.

It was a bit of a shock to me when I first started in an office and I think managers have to be sensitive to the fact that new starters might be in a similar situation.

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