Transitioning from Administrative Assistant to Operations Manager

In August 2009, I was hired by the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory (UNH-IOL) as the Lab’s receptionist. My background consisted of only basic computer and technical skills that I had obtained throughout my three years earning an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts as along with prior experience growing up with a computer. A technical background was not as imperative in an administrative position as it would have been if I was hired into the lab as a technician in one of the consortiums. Over the next three years, I expanded my day to day responsibilities from answering phones and greeting visitors, to creating invoices, becoming an expert shipper, assisting with the hiring process and much more. Still after three years, I only had an elementary understanding of what the different consortiums did here at the lab.

During the summer of 2012, I was approached by the two managers from the UNH-IOL’s Storage groups. They were considering hiring an Operations Manager and asked me if I would be interested in taking on the position. Knowing that it would be a career path in completely new direction and only having limited knowledge about the technologies in the Storage groups, I knew it was something I should deliberate. I decided that I wanted to brave the challenge and prove to myself that I could succeed in this new position.

I began a six week trial period to be sure my involvement was going to be beneficial to the Storage groups and something that I wanted to do. My first week consisted mostly of learning what different testing goes on in the groups. There was a lot to learn, but eventually it all began to make sense. I am aware that in order for me to learn what I need to, I need to research more so than the next person because I do not have that technical background most people get when they are in school here at UNH. The end of my training enabled me to learn how to schedule testing for our vendors, how the storage groups operate, and how to improve efficiency.

My time thus far at the UNH-IOL has been a wonderful learning experience. I have acquired a great understanding of how our business operates from an administrative point of view, such as billing and invoicing, purchasing, and hiring. Now I am learning about what we do from a technical point of view. It is extraordinary knowing that every day I go to work there will be something new to do, something new to learn, and something new to experience. It has been exceptionally beneficial having a hand in both sides of how the business operates I believe a it will open doors to many new and exciting opportunities in the future.

Kerry Auchterlonie, Operations Manager