Executive Assistant of the Week: Orange County

Claudia Burnette
Executive Assistant to Vice Chancellor
University of California Irvine

Claudia Burnette currently serves as the assistant to the vice chancellor and the manager, administrative support for University Advancement at the University of California, Irvine. She provides executive-level assistance to the vice chancellor as well as leadership and coaching to the administrative support team.  Before her appointment, Claudia served in executive assistant roles at Metagenics, Western Digital, and Allergan, Inc.  Claudia received her BA degree in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University.  Claudia received two certifications from the International Association of Administrative Professionals:   Certified Professional Secretary (CPS) and Certified Administrative Professional (CAP).

Claudia will be one of the distinguished contributors at the ELS Forum: Orange County on February 6-7, 2019

1) Independently, what have you done to work towards professional development in the past?

I was a long-time member of the International Association of Administrative Professionals (IAAP); formerly Professional Secretaries International (PSI). I served in many leadership roles at the Chapter level, including President. This organization offered continuing education, professional growth, and extensive networking opportunities. Additionally, I earned an AA degree in Secretarial Sciences and a BA degree in Organizational Leadership.

2) Tell us about a career accomplishment of which you’re particularly proud.

I am particularly proud of the reputation I have established over a long career. I often receive calls from former colleagues asking for career advice, interview advice, network connections, etc. I am a strong proponent of our profession and I am always happy to help someone advance within her/his career.

3) Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you were first starting your career?

I recall two “lessons” that I like to share. One:  When I was young and self-important … I was indignant that I was being stonewalled by someone in the accounts payable department. I expected my boss to be as annoyed and impatient as I was, in fact, I was quite annoyed that he hadn’t joined me in my outrage. Then, he said to me:  “Claudia; we need them more than they need us – they are driving this bus and we need to hop on to get where we need to be.”  Remembering those words of wisdom has served me well over the years. Two:  I was working in a very busy, fast-paced department. My boss hired a consultant to provide marketing support. The consultant used a drawing program that we did not use. I felt the consultant should conform to our program and I shared that belief with my boss; I said:  “I don’t know how to use that program!”  He replied:  “You will tomorrow.” As simple as that, you will tomorrow. The point of that story is … it can be that simple. From that point on, I did not build my own roadblocks … when I didn’t know something and when I felt fear of the unknown, I reminded myself:  “you will know tomorrow” and I put my head down and figured it out.