The 4th BENEO Assistants Meeting took place early September in Tongeren, Belgium. It combines in a special way the three corporate values of BENEO: Care, Improvement and Inspiration. Our time together in Tongeren was entirely dedicated to these values.
The beginnings: How a vision becomes reality
The idea for this meeting was born in 2015. It was my vision to create a forum where BENEO assistants worldwide could share their knowledge and experience. Since then, the Assistants Meeting has been a matter close to my heart, and it always fills me with joy when we get together.
In the beginning and in my role as board assistant, I managed the organization of this meeting almost alone, which was extremely demanding and time-consuming. Later, I received support from my fellow board assistants. Together we shared the preparation, organization and agenda building. This move towards collective organization reflects the community spirit and commitment of the assistants.
Impetus for professional development
One of the central goals of this meeting is to improve our daily work and gain new inspiration. The exchange with colleagues from different countries encouraged us to explore new approaches and applications in our work. This common exchange of ideas is the engine for professional improvement.
A significant long-term effect of the Assistants Meeting is the creation of a solid network of assistants within BENEO. The opportunity to meet like-minded people in person and get to know the faces behind the email addresses makes daily work easier and more familiar. Networking with each other strengthens our professional bond and promotes collaboration.
The previous meetings have encouraged us to develop our professional skills and expand our network. We can be proud of what we have achieved and at the same time we look forward to the future with expectation, ready to explore new horizons. With this in mind we organized this year’s Assistant Meeting after a long pandemic-forced pause.
Finding balance between work and private life – Balance@BENEO
The first day of the meeting was dedicated to the corporate initiative “Balance@BENEO”. Our colleagues Eileen Rajczyk from the USA and Miet Misselyn from Belgium led us through the topic in a playful way. This also included to discuss what all is involved in the balance between work and private life, stress and relaxation. These were taken up and deepened by the facilitators at the subsequent workshop. Questions about responsibility, how to behave in difficult situations, how to set priorities and how to cope with stress were worked out, discussed and even acted out in a lively agile way. The importance of affiliation and recognition was also discussed, as this is often a challenging topic in the assistance profession.
Assistants 4.0: Ready for the future – Shaping the future
We also discussed the challenges of the modern professional world, which is characterized by mobile work, the internet, social media and artificial intelligence. Despite the changes in the assistance sector, it is evident that our organizational strength, attention to detail and networking skills are still of great importance for successful collaboration within the organization. Change is inevitable, but it also provides opportunities to improve and evolve. We need to rethink and change proven processes to keep up with the ever-increasing load of information. This is the real challenge we should all face. During an agile working session led by our colleague Anne-Catherine Van Den Heuvel, we developed solution approaches and resumes. This modern approach to work proved to be extremely exciting and effective.
Shaping the future is very closely linked with being familiar with available IT tools. Being aware and knowing how to use them can have a significant impact on daily work. Hence, BENEO’s IT Coordinator Laurent Lesage took us on a super interesting and entertaining excursion to discover Microsoft 365. Laurent guided us through these new tools and made us want to explore further with a lot of wit and joy.
Talking about future we also received insights into the work of BENEO’s New Business Development department. Our colleague Liv Janvary introduced us into the diverse areas of this department and helped us to understand its work and accountabilities.
Moving forward together
A total of 26 women and one man attended the meeting. This cross-gender participation shows that more and more people, regardless of their gender, are finding interest in the versatile profession of assistant. This development is very much welcomed and supported by the entire organization.
The 4th BENEO Assistants Meeting in Tongeren was a complete success and an inspiring and educational experience that has strengthened and motivated us. Our collegial community is vibrant and full of positive energy. The collaboration, knowledge sharing and enthusiasm for our profession have brought us even closer together. We look forward to continuing this journey and actively shaping the future of the assisting profession at BENEO.